College : : Story
Thursday, August 15, 2013

Assistants ready to lead

Kendall Rogers        

When college baseball programs look for a new head coach, some tend to gravitate toward established head coaches. Others, though, have no problem looking hard at some of the nation’s rising assistant coaches.

That much is true when one peers at this year’s college baseball coaching carousel. Of the 23 head coaching changes so far this offseason, only one remains open in Tennessee-Martin. And of those remaining, 13 were filled by assistant coaches.

Virginia Tech lost head coach Pete Hughes to Oklahoma, but filled that hole with talented assistant Pat Mason. Meanwhile, San Francisco’s Greg Moore went to Cal State Northridge, Indiana’s Ty Neal parlayed a magical Hoosiers campaign into the head job at Cincinnati, and a crop of former San Diego assistants in Jay Johnson and Eric Valenzuela got jobs at Nevada and St. Mary’s, respectively.

As the offseason continues and we prepare for the 2014 college baseball campaign, there’s another talented group of assistant coaches to watch, many of whom will have their opportunity to be head coaches next summer.

Without further ado, we take an inside look at the 10 rising assistants most ready to be head coaches, while also featuring a best of the rest category.

Scott Forbes, North Carolina

It’s only a matter of time before Forbes lands a head coaching job. Forbes has been in the mix for several jobs over the past couple of seasons, most recently being a finalist for the Auburn vacancy, which ultimately went to long-time Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway. Forbes just completed his eighth season with the Tar Heels, his fourth campaign as associate head coach on head coach Mike Fox’s coaching staff. In addition to having an infectious and charismatic personality, Forbes is a well-respected pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. Judging by how close Forbes was to landing the AU gig, percentages are high he jumps off this list next summer.

Kevin McMullan, Virginia

Should just any program around the country try to reel in McMullan as head coach, history suggests it won’t exactly be easy. McMullan was legitimately in the mix for the Ohio State opening a couple of summers ago. However, he has since been very selective with jobs he approaches despite plenty of interest around the college baseball community. McMullan has a stellar reputation in the industry. He recently completed his 11th seasons with the Cavaliers, including eighth as associate head coach. In addition to being a good recruiter, McMullan also has done a great job with the Cavaliers’ offense, which finished last season with impressive marks.

Mike Martin Jr., Florida State

Once the elder Mike Martin decides to retire, boy, he’s going to have a tough decision on his hands between his son, Mike Jr., and pitching coach Mike Bell. Bell did a terrific job with the FSU pitching staff last season. Martin Jr., as usual, did his thing, too. Martin Jr. just completed his 16th season as an assistant for the Seminoles. Martin Jr. serves as the Seminoles’ recruiting coordinator, while also working with the hitters and catchers, both areas where FSU has been stellar over the years. Martin Jr. has gotten looks from Georgia and Auburn over the past year, but perhaps he now should wait for the FSU job to come open.

Chris Lemonis, Louisville

Here’s yet another guy, like McMullan, who is waiting for the right opportunity. Lemonis had an on-campus interview at Penn State University this summer, and was one of three finalists scheduled for an on-campus interview. However, Lemonis decided against taking the trip and stayed at UL for family reasons. Lemonis’ return to the UL program is absolutely huge. He just completed his seventh season with the program, where he serves as an excellent recruiting coordinator, while also leading the development of the Louisville offense, which has been very good under his watch.

Mark Wasikowski, Oregon

Wasikowski certainly has made his presence known with the addition of several high profile recruits for the Ducks. But what makes Wasikowski so intriguing is his experience in a variety of situations. Wasikowski, who played at Pepperdine, spent time at SE Missouri State, Florida, 10 seasons at Arizona, and now is getting ready for his third campaign with the Ducks. In addition to serving as recruiting coordinator, Wasikowski also coordinates UO defensively and has a strong hand in the Ducks’ offense, along with fellow assistant Jay Uhlman.

Butch Thompson, Mississippi State

Go ahead and throw Thompson in the same pile of coaches as Scott Forbes and others. There’s absolutely no doubt he gets a head coaching gig, likely sooner rather than later. Thompson is highly regarded as one of the nation’s elite assistant coaches, particularly pitching coaches. Thompson’s resume is fantastic, only improving this past season by helping MSU reach the CWS Championship Series in his fifth season with the program. Thompson also had a three-year stint as pitching coach at Auburn before briefly accepting the head coaching position at High Point, before quickly accepting a spot on John Cohen’s MSU staff. Thompson is ready for the next step.

Cliff Godwin, Mississippi

Godwin is a rising coach to watch moving forward and will only see his stock rise over the next couple of seasons. Godwin has had quite a bit of success on the recruiting trail for the Rebels, while also recently completing his second seasons as hitting coach for the program. Godwin is known as a relentless recruiter and has an impressive resume. Before Ole Miss, he spent three seasons as the associate head coach at UCF. And before that, spent time on Paul Mainieri’s LSU staff. Godwin was courted by Arkansas during the offseason, but he chose to stay at Ole Miss to continue pursuing a head coaching job.

Skip Johnson, Texas

There’s a chance Johnson sticks around Texas until Augie Garrido retires with hopes he’d get the head coaching job at UT. However, he’s worth a long look for a program out there looking for someone to stabilize things, especially from a pitching standpoint. Though the Longhorns have struggled the past couple of seasons, the problems certainly haven’t been on the mound. Johnson recently completed his seventh season with the Longhorns, and he has plenty of head coaching experience having previously worked 13 seasons as the head coach at Navarro Junior College. Johnson also serves as a key recruiter for the ‘Horns.

Marty Lees, Oklahoma State

Lees might just be ready to take the next step in his career, especially after the 2014 season. Lees joined the Cowboys and Josh Holliday’s staff prior to the 2013 campaign. However, he earned his stripes as an assistant on Pat Casey’s Oregon State staff. Serving as recruiting coordinator and defensive specialist, as well as associate head coach for three seasons, Lees helped the Beavers capture back-to-back national titles during his 11 seasons with the program. Should Oklahoma State have a solid ’14 season, Lees could very well be a name to watch moving forward. He definitely has the resume of someone who’s head coach material.

Brad Bohannon, Kentucky

Bohannon is another younger assistant who could see his stock continue to rise over the next year. Bohannon had an opportunity to make a couple of moves this past summer, but chose to stay put at Kentucky, seemingly waiting on a head coaching job. Bohannon is considered to be a relentless recruiter and has really amassed solid classes during his 10 seasons with the program, helping out both former head coach John Cohen and current head coach Gary Henderson. If a program is looking for young energy eager to transfer things, Bohannon should be on the list.

Best of the rest

Mike Bell, Florida State

Mike Clement, Kansas State

Jake Gautreau, Tulane

Kevin Schnall, UCF

Spencer Allen, Creighton

Matt Siegel, Arizona

TJ Bruce, UCLA

Bryan Prince, Georgia Tech

Javi Sanchez, LSU

Travis Jewett, Vanderbilt

Bradley Lecroy, Clemson

Sean Kenny, Michigan

Andy Sawyers, Texas A&M

Karl Kuhn, Virginia

Brian Green, Kentucky

Gino DiMare, Miami (Fla.)

Copyright 1994-2018 by Perfect Game. All rights reserved. No portion of this information may be reprinted or reproduced without the written consent of Perfect Game.