BRAD BOHANNON (PHOTO BY JASON CALDWELL)

Brad Bohannon is Alabama’s new baseball coach, but will complete duties with Auburn

Brad Bohannon is Alabama’s new head baseball coach

It is interesting that Alabama has hired an assistant coach from rival Auburn to be the Crimson Tide’s head baseball coach. It was not, however, an important factor other than the fact that it is another successful step that Brad Bohannon has made in his coaching career prior to landing his first head job.
In fact, following Bohannon’s introduction in Tuscaloosa Monday, he was to fly to Tallahassee to complete his Auburn duties as the Tigers are playing in an NCAA Regional Tournament.
The introductory press conference was much about Bohannon’s history as a Southeastern Conference assistant coach. He first worked for John Cohen at Kentucky and completed his 12-year run there under Gary Henderson. For the past two seasons he has been at Auburn under Butch Thompson, who Bohannon described as “as fine a man is there is in college athletics.”
Bohannon is known particularly as an outstanding recruiter, and he mentioned how two major league scouts, Sean Gibbs and Tim O’Neil, had made a big impact on him in learning to evaluate players.
By all accounts, Alabama’s job is open in part because former coach Greg Goff — who was fired after just one year at Bama — did not have a good relationship with his players. Bohannon said he is grateful to all his former players. “In the 14 years that I’ve been in the league, I’ve not gotten a hit, I haven’t made a pitch,” he said. “It’s all about the kids, they’re the ones making the plays. I’m just thankful to each and every one of them for buying into me and what I was selling at the time and for giving me everything they had while playing for me.
“I can’t wait to start recruiting. I can’t wait to get kids on campus this week and show them our great place. I can’t wait to look them in the eye and look their parents in the eye and say, “Hey, you come to Alabama you can win a SEC championship because that’s been done 14 times before. You can be a first-team All-American because we’ve had 15 of those. We can go to the College World Series because it’s been done five times. You can be a first-round draft pick. It’s all been done here before. I mean, this is a program that has won 2,500 games. That’s just unbelievable and a big part of that is because of the coaches that have been here before. (Former coaches) Joe Sewell, Barry Shollenberger, Jim Wells, and Mitch Gaspard and staff have done a great job of creating a tradition that can be a competitive advantage for us heading forward.
“I’ve coached in this league 14 years, and you can’t survive in this league, much less thrive, if you have a lot of shortcomings. You're really forced to figure things out. I’ve finished first in the league and I’ve finished last and I’m very clear on the difference — it all starts on the mound. Early on, we’re going to coach to our personnel. I think it’s important initially for me and our coaching staff to adjust to our players. Over time we’re going to strive to be balanced. I love three-run home runs, but you also need to be able to score at times without getting a hit because it’s tough to string together five hits on a Friday night in our league when you’re facing a future big leaguer.”
He said that he would begin working on his staff after completing his duties with Auburn. (And, he said, “I’m going to give that team everything I have to win that ballgame.”
Bohannon is taking on a team that finished last in the SEC this season. He said, “I'm not going to talk about the challenges, I'm going to talk about what we have, and we have a lot. We have one of the best ball parks in the country. We have one of the best college experiences in the country. We get to take kids to Alabama football games, the SEC experience is second-to-none. So we have a lot to sell, and we're going to talk about what we do have and not what we don't have."
One thing that Alabama has is a three-game winning streak against his soon-to-be former Auburn team as the Crimson Tide swept the Tigers in Auburn this year. What did Bohannon see in Bama that weekend? He said, “I thought the team really competed well, for that particular weekend. And there’s some good pieces. When I was talking to the kids, I think of, gosh, it felt like we played 70 innings in about a 36-hour period. So, when you’re dealing with college kids and you’re in this league, there’s so many ups and downs. It’s all about when you catch teams and if you see any teams who are (playing) their best baseball one weekend and you catch them on a weekend where they played their worst, you have another. There’s some good pieces in place, and I felt the kids competed pretty well. And I’m excited to build on that.”
Alabama Athletics Director Greg Byrne noted that he had talked to a number of sources in his selection process, including former Alabama Coach Jim Wells and ex-Crimson Tide All-America David Magian.
Byrne said, “As we went through the process, we talked to a lot of different people. As we were identifying potential candidates, Brad Bohannon’s name continued to surface. I knew Brad briefly from about 12 years ago when he joined John Cohen’s staff at the University of Kentucky. When we hired Coach Cohen at Mississippi State, we talked about trying to get Brad to Starkville, but he, for some reason, wanted to stay in Lexington, where he was able to meet his future wife, Kim.”
Byrne said, “I think the best coaches are smart. Brad certainly fills that bill. He has his MBA from Wake Forest when he was there (as a graduate assistant coach). He then went out to Intel in Portland, Oregon, and worked in finance.”
Byrne also pointed out a thee-and-a-half hour meeting he had with Bohannon in which Bohannon presented a comprehensive plan for player development, recruiting, alumni and community relations, academics, and compliance. Byrne was particularly impressed by Bohannon’s recruiting history, including signing players from different states and Canada.
Byrne also revealed that his staff had called a number of former Bohannon players to learn about him as a coach, and all of those former players said if they had it to do again, they would want to play for Bohannon.
As for Bohannon continuing his duties with Auburn, Byrne said, "I think he should. I know that if we had an assistant coach that was being hired away from our department, I'd want them to give their all to Alabama. It doesn't matter what school it is. I think it's important that we treat the people that we bring in the way we want to be treated and that's the way we're handling this."
The AD concluded, “I knew that was the kind of coach we wanted here at The University of Alabama.”


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