Van Horn Interviews Alabama Assistant

FAYETTEVILLE -- Alabama hitting coach Todd Butler is the leading candidate to replace former Arkansas assistant Matt Deggs, who accepted a similar position at Texas A&M on Wednesday.

Butler interviewed on campus this week and Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn made it clear that the job was Butler's to turn down.

"I brought him up here to look around for a reason," Van Horn said. "It's early, but he's the guy that I'd like to get right off the bat."

Butler, a 37-year-old who is the Crimson Tide's hitting coach, outfielders coach and recruiting coordinator, fits Van Horn's mold of an ideal candidate perfectly. He's from the South (Alexandria, La.) and familiar with Arkansas and the Southeastern Conference after spending seven seasons at Alabama during two separate coaching stints.

From 1995-2000, Butler helped lead the Tide to six NCAA Regional appearances and three College World Series. He was the head coach at McNeese State for three seasons, where he compiled a 90-83 record, before returning to Alabama in 2004.

In addition, Butler is one of the top recruiters in the South. In the late 1990s, he led three consecutive top 10 recruiting efforts, including a No. 4 finish in 1999 which was the highest ranked recruiting class in Alabama baseball history.

That's one reason why Alabama coach Jim Wells was awaiting his assistant's return late Thursday.

"Coach Van Horn called a couple of days ago and asked for permission to speak with Todd and I said that he could," Wells said. "He went up there to talk to them and that's about the extent that any of us know at this time,

"Right now, we're looking forward to his return to camp and just waiting to see what his status is."

Van Horn first met Butler when Butler was an assistant at Blinn (Texas) Junior College in 1992 and they've been crossing paths on the recruiting trail ever since.

Van Horn said he doesn't know what Butler will decide, but sounded fairly confident with how things went during the visit to Fayetteville. In fact, he has not scheduled any other interviews at this time.

"It went good," Van Horn said. "I won't bring anybody else in if we don't have to because he's the guy that I want and I told him that and have no problem admitting that.

‘He's a great hitting coach and a great recruiter. He can really relate to the kids and talk to the parents. He'll be a great head coach one day.

"He's seen everything and now has some decisions to make, but I don't think it will be too long for us to know one way or the other."


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