Tigers Still Looking For Baseball Head Coach

Auburn's baseball coaching search is into week three and things could begin to heat up with the college baseball season coming to an end.

Auburn, Ala.—More than two weeks since Auburn dismissed head baseball coach John Pawlowski, the job still remains open as the summer begins to heat up and the collegiate season comes to an with the College World Series in Omaha.

With several prominent names still thought to be in the running, the job could be much more attractive following the draft with Auburn's signing class likely to be intact heading into the fall and key veterans expected to be back on the diamond next season as well.

Perhaps the biggest name on the board is Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway and he could be emerging as the frontrunner for the job. Just finishing his seventh full season with the Sooners, Golloway led his team to a Super Regional in 2013 before falling at LSU. It was the sixth NCAA appearance for Oklahoma under his guidance, including a College World Series appearance in 2010.

Golloway was seen on the AU campus on Friday taking a tour with Athletic Director Jay Jacobs and former Auburn baseball star Joe Beckwith, who pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kansas City Royals.

Prior to his time at Oklahoma, Golloway coached at Oral Roberts and turned the program into a perennial winner. He was at ORU eight seasons with the first two as an independent. Moving to the Mid-Continent Conference in 1998, Oral Roberts made six consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances before he moved on to Oklahoma. For his career Golloway has a record of 638-316-1.

Known for pitching, defense, and small-ball philosophy, Golloway's Sooners finished 21st in the country in ERA in 2013 led by first round draft choice Jonathan Gray on the mound.

Another one of the names thought to still be involved has some baseball ahead of him in the coming days as Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson and his Bulldogs are in the College World Series. They will face Oregon State in the opening game on Saturday.

Butch Thomspon

Originally from Amory, Miss., Thompson played at Birmingham-Southern and also coached there under Brian Shoop. The 20-year coaching veteran has been in the SEC since going to Georgia in 2002. In his four seasons as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator he helped the Bulldogs to an SEC Championship and College World Series berth.

Moving to Auburn in 2006, Thompson had three recruiting classes ranked in the top 18 in the country. Included in that group was a top five ranking in 2007. That was the class that featured Hunter Morris, Trent Mummey, Brian Fletcher, Kevin Patterson and the heart of the 2010 SEC Western Division title team at Auburn.

In his five seasons at Mississippi State, Thompson has led a rebirth for the Bulldogs on the mound as his first team shaved two and a half runs off its ERA from the previous year. In 2012 Mississippi State led the league in ERA and won the SEC Tournament led by SEC Pitcher of the Year and first round draft choice Chris Stratton. In 12 seasons as a pitching coach in the SEC Thompson has had 33 pupils drafted with five this season at Mississippi State.

Recruiting coordinator and associate head coach at Arkansas, Todd Butler has been with the Razorbacks for eight seasons and has been part of eight NCAA Tournament teams and a pair of College World Series participants. The hitting coach and in charge of recruiting, Butler has seen 57 of his players drafted in eight seasons in Fayetteville including a school record 11 this year.

Todd Butler

During Butler's 21-year career as a NCAA Division I assistant or head coach, he has helped his teams to five College World Series appearances, 17 NCAA regionals, four NCAA super regionals, six conference tournament championships and his teams have been ranked No. 1 four times in his career. In addition, Butler has coached 33 All-Americans, 135 players drafted in the MLB Draft and 20 Major League players.

Playing at McNeese State, Butler's first break came at Alabama where he was an assistant for Jim Wells. Butler served as the hitting instructor and outfielders coach during his first stint with the Crimson Tide from 1995-2000. He helped guide Alabama to six NCAA Regional appearances as well as three trips to the College World Series in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Alabama advanced to the SEC Tournament in all six of those seasons, claiming the SEC Tournament title in 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1999.

A longtime assistant at South Carolina, Jim Toman has put together the best six-year start in program history at Liberty after the Flames advanced to the NCAA Tournament this season before falling in the championship game in the Columbia, S.C. Regional. His teams have won 35 or more games in five of six seasons at Liberty 43 wins in 2010 and 41 wins in 2012. In 2011 Liberty had seven players taken in the MLB Draft, the most players ever for a Liberty team and tied for the most in Big South Conference history.

Toman went to Liberty after spending 11 seasons as Ray Tanner's top assistant at South Carolina. During his time with the Gamecocks he served as the recruiting coordinator and coached the catchers. In his career Tomas has recruited 15 Top 25 classes, including all 11 of his seasons in Columbia. A native of Pennsylvania, Toman played his college baseball at North Carolina State.

Rated the number two college baseball coach under 40 by Baseball America, Samford's Casey Dunn is someone who knows what it takes to win not only at Auburn, but in the state of Alabama. Playing at Auburn from 1996-1999, Dunn earned All-American honors as a senior and helped the Tigers to a berth in the College World Series in 1997. Starting his coaching career at Spain Park High, Dunn started the baseball program for the Jaguars and helped them to a pair of playoff appearances in three years.

Moving to Samford for the 2005 season, Dunn has led the Bulldogs to 30 or more wins in five of the last seven seasons. Included in that run was the first-ever NCAA Tournament berth in 2012 and 41 wins. That followed up a 37-win season in 2011. Samford has had nine players drafted by Major League Baseball the last two seasons including first round selection Phillip Ervin this year.

Thompson isn't the only candidate still playing baseball this season as North Carolina assistant Scott Forbes will be coaching in his sixth College World Series in eight seasons in Chapel Hill. Under his guidance the Tar Heels have finished in the Top 35 nationally in ERA in each of the last eight years including 14th nationally this year. With two pitchers drafted this season Forbes has now had 22 pitchers either drafted or signed to professional contracts in the last seven years.

In addition to his production on the field Forbes has shown he can get top quality talent to Chapel Hill as well. Every class he has signed since he arrived at North Carolina has been ranked in the Top 10 nationally.

As a player Forbes hit .321 at Wesleyan from 1995-97 and led the team to a pair of Dixie Conference titles and a fifth-place finish at the 1997 Division III CWS. As a senior, he hit .387 with 61 RBI and 27 doubles, which set the NCAA Division III single-season record. That season, he earned second-team all-region honors and was named Most Valuable Player of the Dixie Conference Tournament as well as Wesleyan's MVP. Forbes also earned a spot on the regional all-tournament squad. He spent the 1994 season at Middle Georgia College, where he helped the team to the Georgia junior college state title.

Auburn officials haven't given a time frame on when they plan to make their choice. When Pawlowski was hired he took over the program on June 20, 2008 after the position became vacant when Tommy Slater stepped down on May 17th. Pawlowski, who was fired on May 27th, had been head coach at College Charleston nine seasons before taking the Auburn job.


Inside The AU Tigers Top Stories