Van Horn Hires Assistant Coach

FAYETTEVILLE -- When it come to recruiting, Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn knows selling the program to parents is just as important -- and maybe more -- as convincing a prospect to sign with the Razorbacks.

And when it comes to landing a top-notch assistant coach, Van Horn knows it's not the assistant who'll solely make the decision. That's why Van Horn invited Melissa Butler to campus this week while he wooed her husband, former Alabama assistant Todd Butler, into accepting the Hogs' coaching vacancy which he did Friday.

"They just moved into a brand new house last week," Van Horn said. "He's got two young kids and then all the sudden, three days after they moved in, they're getting a call from me.

"His wife said, ‘I knew this was going to happen.' But she's one of the main reasons they're coming. She really liked it here and felt this would be better for him."

Butler served as hitting instructor, outfielders coach and recruiting coordinator at Alabama and will do much of the same at Arkansas. He was Van Horn's first choice to replace Matt Deggs, who accepted a similar position at Texas A&M earlier this week.

"Todd is an energetic and a very enthusiastic coach that a lot of programs would love to have," Van Horn said. "We feel very fortunate to get him. I thought it was a little bit of a long shot when I went after him and then to have him make the commitment to come here is big for our program.

"He's a tireless recruiter who loves to work with hitters. Our players and our fans are really going to enjoy him."

The 37-year-old is from Alexandria, La., and familiar with Arkansas and the Southeastern Conference after spending seven years (during two different stints) as an Alabama assistant.

During the first from 1995-2000, he helped the Crimson Tide to six NCAA Regional appearances and three trips to the College World Series. In 2001, he took over the head coaching job at McNeese State, where he compiled a 90-83 record, before returning to Alabama in 2004.

Being a Louisiana native has helped Butler land some of the nation's top recruits. The Tide had three consecutive top 10 recruiting classes during the late 1990s and the 1999 Class ranked No. 4, the highest in school history.

"Todd's a go-getter," Van Horn said. "He has a little bit of a different personality than Matt, but the players will really respond to him and respond to his coaching because he's been a Division I head coach and they'll be able to tell real quick that he really knows what he's talking about.

"He really felt like this was a good opportunity for him and he knows that I really go to bat for my coaches when it comes to getting head coaching jobs."

It was Van Horn who recently lobbied with Texas A&M to hire former Nebraska pitching coach Rob Childress, who was responsible for hiring Deggs this past week.

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