For the first time since 2005, the Oklahoma baseball program is searching for a new head coach after the departure of Sunny Golloway to Auburn. Much like back in 2005, this transition also has its own share of drama but that appears to be dying down as both sides go their separate ways.
While there are any number of OU baseball fans who are surely happy to see Golloway gone, there is an inherent risk to any change in leadership be it voluntary or not. Like or dislike the guy, Golloway has led this program to multiple 40-win seasons and Super Regional appearances.
However, that is obviously irrelevant as things stand today with Golloway in Alabama and a vacancy currently in Norman.
So could Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione be considering as a possible replacement and the new face of this OU baseball program? Well, we've put together a list of possible candidates based on the current talk and/or rumors surrounding the job opening.
Reported Leader In The Clubhouse
Dan Heefner, Head Coach Dallas Baptist
Pluses: Having led his DBU teams to six straight wins over Oklahoma, hiring him away would be a net plus for OU in that aspect alone. Has experience as a hitting coach with a proven track record of success. Six years as a head coach under his belt, but still a young guy at just 35 years old. Recruiting ties to the state of Texas.
Minuses: Other than owning them on the diamond, no real ties to the program or state of Oklahoma. Fair or unfair, the level of competition has to be taken into account when assessing his success at DBU.
Solid candidate and all the pieces line up with respect to him currently being considered the favorite for the job. The hire probably wouldn't necessarily "wow" anyone per se, but Oklahoma could certainly do much worse.
Matt Siegel, Assistant Coach Arizona
Pluses: Another young guy in his mid-thirties, Siegel led one of the top offenses in the country last year who also happened to win a national title. Has a reputation as a very good recruiter and already has ties to the state of Texas after a previous stint at TCU.
Minuses: Doesn't have a ton of coaching experience, six years as an assistant, and zero as a head coach. Like Heefner, no previous ties to the Oklahoma program (which isn't a requirement by any stretch, just something we'd expect Joe C. to take into consideration with any candidate).
Would be a bit of a risk given his somewhat lack of experience, but could have the highest possible upside of any name on this list. Castiglione has shown a tendency in the past to make this kind of hire.
The Rest Of The Field
Ray Birmingham, Head Coach New Mexico
Pluses: Has the resume - 1,000 career wins, junior college national championship, three straight postseason appearances.
Minuses: Probably on the wrong side of the age curve for this particular hire. He's already issued a statement expressing his desire to stay put at New Mexico.
Randy Mazey, Head Coach West Virginia
Pluses: 20 years of coaching experience. Recruiting ties to the state of Texas after a six year stint as an assistant with TCU. Has an established reputation of recruiting and developing top level pitchers.
Minuses: Swiping a head coach from a fellow Big 12 member wouldn't be easy. Adding to the difficulty is the fact Mazey just took the WVU job in 2012, so would he be interested in making another so quickly?
David Pierce, Head Coach Sam Houston State
Pluses: Just led the Bearkats to their first conference regular season title since 1989 in his first year as head coach. Named one of the ten rising stars of the D-I baseball coaching ranks by Perfect Game. Has spent virtually his entire college coaching career in the state of Texas, so he (like several others we've mentioned) definitely has the strong recruiting ties there OU needs in a new head coach. Had success as an assistant at Rice both as a hitting and pitching coach.
Minuses: As we mentioned, he just finished his first year as head coach of SHSU. You'd have to think if offered that Oklahoma is a job he'd leave for even after only one year, but it's a bit of a risk on some level. No ties to the Oklahoma program or state.
The Longest Of Long Shots
Ryan Minor, Manager Frederick Keys (Baltimore Orioles Class A affiliate)
Pluses: OU alum. Considered to be a talented manager during his multiple stints within the Orioles organization.
Minuses: The likelihood of him being offered and/or taking the job seem to be slim at best. This is really more of a wishful thinking candidate on the part of nostalgic OU baseball fans.
There are a couple other names out there like Todd Whitting (Houston), Allen Gum (Central Arkansas), Mike Bell (Florida State), or Denney Crabaugh (OCU). Of course if you've heard of any other possible names not listed here feel free to share them in the comments. And as always, we want your input. Do any of these names excite you more than another? Who is your preferred candidate?
Things appear to be pretty fluid at the moment with very little information being available with respect to who Castiglione is considering. So no name is a bad name at this point.