Butch Thompson (above) is associate head coach at Mississippi State.
Auburn, Ala.--The interviews are underway in Auburn's search to replace baseball coach Sunny Golloway with current Mississippi State assistant Butch Thompson and former Clemson coach Jack Leggitt both spending time on the Plains last week.
While several more names are expected to possibly interview this week, Auburn’s need to have a new coach before the November early signing period means a short timeline for Athletic Director Jay Jacobs and his staff as they look to fill the position.
Even though he doesn’t have the head coaching experience of Leggitt or many of the other candidates who could surface, Thompson would be a logical selection and a guy who could be a good choice for the Tigers at this time because of his connections in Alabama and ability to connect with people on a personal level.
A players’ coach and an outstanding recruiter, Thompson could do the one thing that has been missing from Auburn baseball recruiting in quite some time, make the Tigers a force in-state.
Recruiting top players from Alabama every year during his time in Starkville, the former Auburn assistant has proven to be one of the top coaches in the country in terms of getting talent on campus and that is something missing from Auburn’s program.
It won’t be an easy decision, however, with guys like Mike Martin Jr., Karl Kuhn and Todd Whitting also possible interviews this week. A longtime assistant for his father Mike Martin at Florida State, Martin Jr. has served as the hitting coach and recruiting coordinator for the Seminoles and had huge success.
During his time there the Seminoles have batted .300 or better 11 times and posted an on-base percentage of at least .400 15 times. Six of the top 11 hitting teams in FSU history have come under Martin’s watch. In 2009 he was named ACC Assistant Coach of the Year by SEBaseball.com while being named one of 10 rising assistant coaches in the game by Perfect Game USA in 2013.
Martin Jr. has been integral in the development of 12 Major League Baseball players during his time at Florida State and has had 52 position players drafted during his time in Tallahassee.
Karl Kuhn is shown at the College World Series
One of the top assistant coaches in the country during his 13 seasons as Virginia’s pitching coach, Kuhn helped the Cavaliers to the national championship last season after reaching the championship series a year earlier. Even during the era of the live bat in college baseball Virginia has been a different breed on the mound, posting a cumulative ERA of just over 3.00 during that span for the second-best mark in the country.
In his time at Virginia the Cavaliers have had 37 pitchers drafted, including 21 in the first 10 rounds. Five former pitchers under Kuhn have reached the major leagues.
Perhaps more of a longshot at the moment is Whitting. A Houston graduate and former assistant coach for both the Cougars and at TCU, Whitting has turned around the program in his five seasons as a head coach. Winning just 45 games his first two seasons, Whitting has won 127 games the last three years. That included 48 wins in 2014 and 43 wins a year ago.
Known as a great recruiter, Whitting has spent his entire coaching career in Texas, but has strong connections throughout the South.
Auburn's decision on a new coach is expected to be made in October.