5-Things: We have a Baseball Coach!

It took less than 3-weeks for the Bears to replace Steve Smith as head baseball coach, picking Steve Rodriguez to be the 19th head coach in Baylor baseball history.

1.The Baylor Bears have a new head baseball coach, as they announced the hiring of Steve Rodriguez as the school's 19th head coach in program history. Rodriguez comes to Baylor from Pepperdine, where he was an All-American second basemen on the 1992 World Series Champion squad. He was the Head Coach of the Waves for the past 12 years, accumulating a 401-300 (.572) record. In his 12 years as skipper, the Waves advanced to 8 NCAA tournaments, including 1 Super Regional appearance in 2014.

"I am absolutely thrilled to be the next head coach of the Baylor baseball program," Rodriguez said. "Baylor's incredible commitment to athletic success, academics and faith makes this team the ultimate baseball program to be a part of for my family. We are honored and privileged to be part of Baylor Athletics, and we are excited about the future of Baylor baseball."

When this process started, I had only maybe 1-2 names ahead of Rodriguez on my personal list, primarily because I thought it would be tough to get him to leave his alma mater. The only man for sure that I would have taken over him was Dan Heefner, the Dallas Baptist head coach that turned the Bears job offer down earlier in the process. With the Bears adjusting after Heefner said no, it was a quick process to focus in on and then ultimately choose Rodriguez. As reported by the Waco-Trib, the Bears contacted him on Sunday, flew him and his family to Waco on Tuesday and then offered him the job on Friday.

2.I am curious how involved Baylor President Ken Starr was in this choice, and how familiar he was of Rodriguez and the baseball team during his time there as the Dean of the Law School. Rodriguez cited his familiarity with Starr during his press conference, and also spoke about the similarities between the two schools. His success at a small private school was one of the reasons he was so high on my list. It is a different world for college baseball coaches when you have private school status. He succeeded in a difficult situation, and kept the Waves program performing at the top of their conference with 6 conference titles.

3.There was news in the track and field world as well, as two Baylor Bears competed for national titles in their respective fields. Speedster Travon Bromell was going for the very difficult 100 and 200 sweep. He advanced to the finals in both distances with the fastest heat trial time. Even with running faster in the finals though, Bromell didn't have enough in the two loaded fields, finishing 2nd in the 100 and 3rd in the 200 as USC’s Andre De Grasse won both events. Also competing in a finals event was Rachel Johnson in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. The senior finished in 6th place, and earned All-American honors in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track this season.

4.It was a torrid week on the recruiting trail for Baylor football, with three commitments in the last 8 days. Denzel Mims got the party started, with Jared Atkinson joining him a few days later. The two wide receivers however were the appetizers for the big announcement Sunday night, as the Bears received a verbal pledge from 4-star defensive tackle Bravvion Roy.

The 149th ranked player in the country, Roy chose Baylor over Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and LSU. He is the first defensive tackle in this class, and will be joined by 1-2 more. With at least 2 and maybe even 3 of the Bears top tackles leaving after this year, depth will be needed, especially if Andrew Billings leaves early for the NFL draft. This is a big-time get for the Bears, and really solidifies the position after losing the commitment of Jordan Elliott, who has since committed to Houston. With one star-caliber recruit in the fold for the interior defensive line, the Bears can continue to focus on the top-tier guys and gamble that they hit on one more.

5.Finally, rumors of the Baylor football schedule getting an upgrade started to circle Friday and Saturday. Ian McCaw has said the last few weeks that he wants to upgrade the schedule, and not just long term, but also for games before 2020. That would mean 2016-2019, games where the Bears are scheduled to take on Duke twice, SMU, Louisiana Tech, Rice, Liberty, Abilene Christian, UTSA and Incarnate Word. They are fully booked for all of those years as of right now, so any changes would require a buyout.

One can only assume we would not upgrade the schedule by buying out Duke, who we play in 2017 and 2018, so really next season is the most likely candidate. The Bears open play against Northwestern State, then after an off week, are home against SMU. Honestly, that schedules looks about perfect for a buyout and chance to play a big-time game to open the year, especially if the rumored game is overseas. With an off-week directly after the game, the Bears can recuperate from any difficult travel requirements, and try and get back on their normal schedule.

For more on what we are hearing about this, including possible opponents and sites, come inside the Bear Pit Premium Forum for the latest.


Bears Illustrated Top Stories