Tuesday Morning Coffee Break

Mississippi State athletic director Greg Byrne will be leading the search for a new head baseball coach to take over for Ron Polk who will be retiring at the conclusion of this season. So, who will he hire? Just for fun, here's a list I came up with of 10 possible candidates, some long-shots and some that may very well be strongly considered for the prestigious head coaching position.

The list is in alphabetical order.

Mike Anderson - Nebraska Head Coach (5+ Years from 2003 to present)

Personal Honors - Two-time conference coach of the year, and national coach of the year once.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - 10 of his players have been selected All-Americans.

Overall and Conference Record - His record at Nebraska prior to 2008 is 214-100 overall and 81-54 in conference play. Three of his five teams have won 40+ or more games, including 57 in 2005.

Championships - Two of his teams have won the Big 12 title while the other three ended up 3rd, 4th and 8th in the conference.

Postseason Play - His teams have appeared in 4 regionals (hosted 3, won 1, reached title game three times), 1 super regional (hosted it, won it) and 1 College World Series. His teams overall record in NCAA post-season play is 11-8.

Hitting - During his 8 years as the Nebraska assistant coach in charge of hitting, his teams hit in the .320+ to .330+ range 5 of the 8 seasons. Since he has become head coach, his teams have hit .304, .281, .302, .310 and .288. And they have only averaged over 7 runs per game once during that span.

Pitching - Although known as a hitting coach during his assistant coaching days at Nebraska from 1995 to 2002, when he became head coach Nebraska's pitching ERA went down dramatically. In his five years, his teams ERA have been 3.79, 3.76, 2.69, 3.48 and 4.60.

Fielding - A strong advocate of defense, three of his teams have had fielding percentages of .975, .975 and .974, the three best fielding percentages in Nebraska history.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - Unranked; 2006 - Unranked; 2007 - Unranked.

Pro Players - In his five years as head coach, 33 of his players have been drafted by MLB with 3 (Drew Anderson, Joba Chamberlain, Alex Gordon) having already reached the Major Leagues.

Misc - Served as an assistant coach at Nebraska prior to taking the head job. A 1990 graduate of Northern Colorado. 42 years old. Has not ties to the south.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - Overall record was 214-92, 1 Big 12 championship, 4 regionals, 2 College World Series.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 24-4 and 10-1 in conference play and ranked as high as 9th in the nation. The team batting average is .287, the team ERA is 2.86, and the fielding percentage is .966.

Analysis - Although he doesn't sign highly ranked recruiting classes, he appears to do an outstanding job of evaluating players and then developing them. While previously known as a hitting coach when he was an assistant coach at Nebraska, once he became their head coach he put the emphasis on pitching and defense and has won big doing that to the tune of almost 43 victories per year. He's probably a long-shot for the MSU job since he's going into his 14th year at Nebraska and has no ties to the south.


John Cohen - Kentucky Head Coach (4+ Years from 2004 to present.)

Personal Honors - Named the SEC and National Coach of the Year once.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - He has had 2 All-Americans.

Overall and Conference Record - His record at Kentucky prior to 2008 is 131-93, including a 47-71 SEC conference record.

Championships - His teams have won 1 SEC Championship (2006). His other teams have finished 6th, 6th and 5th in the Eastern Division of the SEC.

Postseason Play - His teams have appeared in 1 NCAA regional (hosted it) and have a 2-2 NCAA postseason record. They didn't advance to super regional or the College World Series.

Hitting - His teams averaged .288 his first year, .300 his second, .299 his third and .320 his fourth season. During the last few years, they have been the leader or among the top 2 or 3 in on-base %, walks, hit by pitch, sacrifice bunts and sacrifice flies.The past three years, his teams have averaged 7.1, 8.2 and 8.5 runs per game despite hitting just 39 and 44 home runs in two of those years.

Pitching - Although his pitching staffs of late have been middle of the pack in the SEC ERA-wise after being in the bottom half of the conference (5.86, 5.23, 3.95, 4.56) they have been the best in the SEC when it comes to not giving up walks in 2006, 2007 and in the current 2008 season.

Fielding - His teams fielding percentages during his first four years have been fairly low at .959, .952, .965 and .960, although there has been dramatic improvement in that category during 2008 with a .980 fielding percentage.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - Unranked; 2006 - 21st; 2007 - 31st.

Pro Players - He has had 16 players drafted or signed as free agents by MLB teams.

Misc - He has very strong ties to the south. He played his college baseball at Mississippi State, coached at Northwestern (La) State as head coach, and as an assistant coach at Florida and Missouri. He is from Tuscaloosa, AL, as is his wife.

Four Years at Kentucky Prior To Hiring Him - The overall record was 101-122 with no postseason play.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 25-5 (7-5 in SEC play) and ranked as high as 10th in the nation. The team batting average is .350, the team ERA is 3.17, and the fielding percentage is .980.

Analysis - In a program not known for success in the SEC, he has won more than 34 games twice in his first four years, including 44 wins in 2006. He is an exceptional recruiter. Known as a very good hitting coach with an aggressive style of play, he doesn't relay as much on home runs to score runs, but more on getting players on base anyway possible and then moving them over with hits, bunts and sacrifice flies. His pitching and defense are normally in the middle of the pack of the SEC. He has strong ties to MSU since he was a player there, but has recently signed a new contract with Kentucky. Considering both he and his wife are from Tuscaloosa, the Alabama baseball job could be a factor in his decision. Despite that, you have to think he's one of the front-runners for the MSU job if he wants it, especially considering the excitement he would bring to the job and fanbase.


Gary Gilmore - Coastal Carolina Head Coach (12+ Years from 1996 to present)

Personal Honors - He has been selected Big South Coach of the Year four times.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - Six of his players have earned All-American honors.

Overall and Conference Record - His teams have an overall record of 457-263 and 165-86 in conference play. His teams have won 40 or more games 7 times, including 6 of the last 7 seasons. He has also had two teams win 50 games during that period.

Championships - His teams have won 4 Big South Conference championships. His other teams have finished 2nd 4 times, 3rd 2 times and 4th 2 times.

Postseason Play - Six of his last teams have advanced to regional play (hosted one), all within the last seven years, although none of them have moved onto super regional play. His teams have a 7-12 postseason won-lost record.

Hitting - During his 12 years at Coastal Carolina, eight of his teams have batted over .300, including five that hit .313 or higher. In the last seven seasons his teams have averaged 7.8, 7.4, 6.8, 6.9, 7.5, 6.0 and 7.2 runs per game.

Pitching - Over the course of the last few years, when his teams have been so successful, their ERA has usually been in the 3+ to 4+ runs per game range.

Fielding - In the last six years, his teams have fielded in the .963 to .971 range.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - Unranked; 2006 - Unranked; 2007 - Unranked.

Pro Players - Over 60 of his players have advanced to pro baseball including 7 who have made it to the Major Leagues.

Misc - His team plays in a low-rated RPI conference. His contract extends through the 2015 season. He played his college baseball for Coastal Carolina.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - The overall record was 144-145 with 1 regional.

Current Season - His current team is 24-7 and ranked as high as 21st in the nation. The team batting average is .310, the team ERA is 4.03, and the team fielding percentage is .974.

Analysis - His teams are usually good hitting teams that are solid pitching and fielding-wise. He has done a phenomenal job at Coastal Carolina averaging over 43 victories per year over the course of the last seven years, but he's probably a long-shot for the MSU job due to factors such as playing and coaching at Coastal Carolina and having a long-term contract.


Tim Jamieson - Missouri Head Coach ( 13+ Years from 1995 to present)

Personal Honors - He has been named conference coach of the year twice.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - He has had five All-American honorees.

Overall and Conference Record - His overall record at Missouri prior to 2008 is 441-308, including a 181-175 conference record. His teams have only won 40 or more games in two of the 13 seasons he's been at Missouri.

Championships - His teams have won 1 conference championships His teams other finishes are 2nd (1 time), 4th (2), 5th (1), 6th (1), 7th (5), 9th (1) and 10th (1).

Postseason Play - His teams have appeared in six regionals (5 in the last 5 years, hosted 1), and have advanced to super regional play once. Their overall record in NCAA postseason play is 9-13.

Hitting - His teams have hit .300 or better in 4 of his 13 seasons, but in the last three years - his most successful three-year period at Missouri - they have hit in the .283 to .285 range and averaged 8.1, 6.4 and 6.7 runs per game.

Pitching - Pitching-wise, six of his thirteen teams have had an earned run average under 5.00 with three of his last four having ERAs under 4.00. They usually have very good control, averaging less than three walks per game.

Fielding - Not enough data to notice a trend, but his 2007 team had a .973 fielding percentage and the 2008 team's fielding percent is .971.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - Unranked; 2006 - 29th; 2007 - 19th.

Pro Players - 40 of his players have been selected in the MLB Draft with 1 going on to play at the MLB level.

Misc - Tim is a Missouri native, as is several of his family members and his wife, but he has some ties to the south since he played baseball and coached at the University of New Orleans for 10 years.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - 165-114 overall record, finished 6th, 3rd, 4th, 3rd and 5th in the conference, participated in 1 regional.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 22-8 and 5-4 in the Big 12, and ranked as high as 4th in the nation. The team batting average is .288, the team ERA is 3.51, and the team fielding percentage is .971.

Analysis - A solid coach who is a good recruiter and who was known more as a hitting coach as an assistant for Missouri, but has become more of a pitching/defense type coach since he became a head coach. His strong ties to Missouri as a Missouri native and a long-time coach at Missouri makes him a long-shot for the MSU job, but he does have some ties to the south thanks to his 10 years at the University of New Orleans as a player and coach.


Rick Jones - Tulane Head Coach (14+ Years from 1994 to present)

Personal Honors - He has been selected Conference USA coach of the year three times and national coach of the year twice.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - He has had 20 All-American selections during his 14-year career.

Overall and Conference Record - His record at Tulane prior to the 2008 season is 600-284 and 244-118 in conference play. He has had ten 40-win seasons, including two 56-win seasons.

Championships - His teams have won 4 conference championships. His other teams have finished 2nd 4 times, 3rd 2 times, 4th 2 times, 5th 1 time and 7th 1 time.

Postseason Play - Jones has led Tulane to regionals in 11 of his 14 seasons, including nine consecutive trips from 1998-2006. Two of his teams advanced to super regional play, winning both to go on to the College World Series. His teams have hosted 2 regionals and 2 super regionals. They are 26-24 in regional and CWS play.

Hitting - Since 1998, his teams have usually hit .314 to .340, although it's more likely to be in the .314 to .320 range.

Pitching - His teams' ERA are almost always in the low to high 4.00's range and they have given up more hits than innings pitched in all but one season since he's been the head coach at Tulane.

Fielding - After usually being in the .960+ range, four of his last five teams have been in the .970+ fielding range.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - 13th; 2006 - 36th; 2007 - 30th.

Pro Players - 52 of his players have signed professional contracts with 3 going on to play in the Major Leagues.

Misc - He's in his mid-50's, age-wise. Twelve of the thirty-four players on his roster are either junior college players or transfers from other D-I schools. With the new APR rules, those type players are going to be much harder to recruit.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - 144-134 overall record, no postseason play.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 21-9, 3-2 in conference play and unranked. The team batting average is .292, the team ERA is 3.50, and they have a .973 fielding percentage.

Analysis - He's been nothing but a winner almost every year he's been at Tulane. A drawback that could hurt is his use of transfers from other D-I schools. He normally has between 5 and 6 on his teams. That's not going to be very easy to do in the future due to the new APR rules. He recruits well and develops his players exceptionally well based on the number of All-Americans he's had during his career. If he should be interested in the MSU job, a drawback could be his age - he's in his mid-50's - but his proven ability to recruit and win should easily offset that. He's also used to going after exceptional students. And with MSU surrounded by schools with extra academic scholarship money, a coach that can find and sign kids who can come in on academic scholarships is a huge plus.


Dan McDonnell - Louisville Head Coach (1+ from 2007 to present)

Personal Honors - None.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - 2 of his players have been named All-Americans.

Overall and Conference Record - His overall record his first year on the job was 47-24 and 19-8 in the Big East Conference.

Championships - He has won no championships.

Postseason Play - His first year on the job saw his team participate in a regional, a super regional (hosted it) and the College World Series. Their postseason record was 7-4.

Hitting - His team batted .313 and averaged 7.1 runs per game.

Pitching - His team's ERA was 3.14 his first season, one of the best in the Big East.

Fielding - His team's fielding percentage was .971 last season.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - 8th (Ole Miss); 2006 - 32nd (Ole Miss); 2007 - 28th.

Pro Players - 6 of his players have signed with pro teams.

Misc - He was the assistant coach in charge of the infield and recruiting at Ole Miss for six years. And four of the six recruiting classes were ranked among the top 20 with three in the top ten nationally. Five of the six teams participated in regional action with two going on to play in super regionals. He signed a long-term contract with Louisville at the conclusion of the 2007 season. A Citadel graduate who also coached there for eight years.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - 162-124 overall record, 1 Regional.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 16-12 overall and 4-5 in the Big East conference and unranked. The team batting average is .296, the team ERA is 4.45, and the fielding percentage is .965.

Analysis - Without question a very good recruiter. But the jury is still out on him due to only being a head coach for a little over a year. He inherited a very, very talented team his first year and did a great job getting it to Omaha. And after losing most of last year's offense (3 position starters, 2 starting pitchers and 1 reliever returned), his 2008 team, as you would expect, is struggling this season thanks in large part to having to play freshmen, D-I transfers and inexperienced players in starting and backup roles. He definitely is worth looking at and you would think MSU would be a school that he would be very interested in, especially considering the success that he had at Ole Miss, a baseball program in the state of Mississippi that doesn't have the tradition that MSU has.


Brian O'Connor - Virginia Head Coach (4+ Years from 2004 to the present.)

Personal Honors - Has been selected ACC coach of the year once.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - Five All-Americans selections.

Overall and Conference Record - His overall record at Virginia is 177-66 and a 72-38 in conference play. All four of his teams have won at least 40 games.

Championships - He has won no conference championships. His teams have finished 2nd and 3rd in the Coastal Division of the SEC and 7th and 2nd overall in the other two years in the ACC Conference.

Postseason Play - All four of his teams have reached regional play - hosting three of the four - although none of the teams have made it to super regional play. Their postseason record is 5-8.

Hitting - Three of his four teams have averaged better than 7 runs a game. Playing in a big ballpark, Virginia believes in small ball which includes a lot of walks, HBPs and stealing a lot of bases. In his first four years as head coach, O'Connor has had his teams steal 98, 81, 115 and 128 bases. And they've stolen 73 in 32 games in the current season.

Pitching - In three of the last four years, Virginia has had one of the top three ERAs in the nation.

Fielding - Coming into this season, all four of his teams had a fielding percentage of .970 or better.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - 18th; 2006 - Unranked; 2007 - 13th.

Pro Players - He has had 16 draft picks in the last four years and 3 have played in the Major Leagues.

Misc - He was born in Nebraska and raised in Iowa. He graduated from Creighton where he was an assistant coach for two years. His wife is also from Iowa. He also was an assistant coach in charge of pitchers and the recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame prior to taking over the head job at Virginia.

Virginia the Four Years Prior To Hiring Him - Overall record was 105-119, no postseason play.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 24-8 overall and 8-6 in conference play, and ranked as high as 14th in the nation. The team batting average is .307, the team ERA is 3.28, and the team is fielding at a .964 clip.

Analysis - An outstanding pitching coach and a solid hitting coach who also loves to pressure the defense with his style of offense, which includes walks, HBPs, and stealing a lot of bases. He is also known as an outstanding recruiter. He has no ties to the south. An intriguing possibility due to his outstanding success at a school with no baseball tradition, but he's probably a long-shot for the job due to no ties to the MSU program or the south.


Tommy Raffo - Mississippi State Assistant Coach (1994 to present. No head coaching experience.)

Based on talking to Tommy Raffo over the years, here are some things I've gotten from him in regard to what I feel is his philosophy as a potential head coach.

Expectations as a Head Coach - His expectations would be the same as the achievements the MSU team had when he was a player in 1987-90 - 50+ win seasons, SEC championships, hosting regionals every year and going to the College World Series with the expectations of winning the national championship.

His Hitting Philosophy - His players would be aggressive at the plate and on the base paths, attacking the first pitch if it's a strike and trying to get on base any way possible, basically trying to find every way possible to create runs. Stealing bases would also be a big priority.

His Pitching Philosophy - Pitching would be a priority in recruiting and high-profile guys like former Bulldog pitchers Jeff Brantley, Paul Maholm, B.J. Wallace, Jay Powell and Eric DuBose being what he would be looking for.

His Recruiting Philosophy - Recruiting would be an extremely high priority. While State would still recruit Mississippi and the southeast heavily, they would also recruit more on the national level and more potential high draft picks would be recruited. One coach would be assigned the job of recruiting coordinator, but the head coach would be on the forefront of recruiting and out on the road as often as possible. Players would be heavily recruited and brought in for unofficial visits as early as possible, and given early offers.

Analysis - Tommy has experienced the winning tradition of Mississippi State first-hand as a player and knows what it takes to put a team on the field that wins and wins in a big way. While he has learned many things from Ron Polk such as the MSU tradition and organization and done things the way Coach Polk prefers while working under him, he also will be his own coach with his own philosophy, just as the coaches that I have written about in this article have done once they became head coaches. The one thing that is a drawback for Tommy is that he lacks what the other coaches on this page don't and that is head coaching experience. But despite that, I look for him to be one of the prime candidates for the MSU job due to his knowledge and understanding of the MSU tradition and his overall coaching philosophy.


Brian Shoop - UAB Head Coach/former Birmingham Southern Head Coach (1 Year at UAB from 2007 to present, 17 years at BS)

Personal Honors - Has been named conference coach of the year several times and national coach of the year twice.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - Not enough data available.

Overall and Conference Record - His teams have an overall 717-336 record and have won 40 or more games in a season nine times, including one 55-win season.

Championships - At BS his teams won 9 conference titles and one NAIA national championship.

Postseason Play - His UAB team did not participate in a regional, but his Birmingham Southern teams played in 10, most when they played in the NAIA.

Hitting - His Birmingham Southern teams usually hit in the .300 to .315 range and stole a lot of bases. In fact, 10 of his 17 teams stole more than 100 bases in a season, with a high of 209 in 1999. His teams normally scored about 7+ runs per game.

Pitching - His pitching staff normally is in the high 3 to low 4 runs per game range.

Fielding - His teams are solid fielding teams, usually in the .960+ range.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - Unranked; 2006 - Unranked; 2007 - Unranked.

Pro Players - 2 of his UAB players signed pro contracts and 32 Birmingham Southern players were either drafted or signed as free agents, 1 of whom has made it to the Major Leagues.

Misc - He ws an assistant coach at MSU under current head coach Ron Polk. Although he was born in Ohio, he has been in the south for over 24 years.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - The teams were 123-160 and didn't participate in postseason play.

Current Season - His 2008 team is currently 12-17 overall and 1-5 in conference play. They are hitting .282 with a team ERA of 5.34 and a fielding percentage of .963.

Analysis - Has coached under Coach Polk so he understands the Mississippi State tradition. An aggressive offensive minded coach who makes things happen at the plate and on the base paths. A solid pitching coach who has a lot of ties to the south. I look for him to be one of the coaches who will be strongly considered for the job.


Steve Smith - Baylor Head Coach (13+ Years from 1995 to present)

Personal Honors - He has been selected the Big 12 coach of the year for time.

Players Honors (All-American Only) - He has had 12 All-American selections.

Overall and Conference Record - His teams have an overall record of 490-311 and 199-150 in conference play. Five of his teams have won 41 or more games, including 1 team that won 50.

Championships - His teams have won two Big 12 Conference championships. The other teams have been 2nd two times, 4th two times, 5th four times and 6th three times.

Postseason Play - Nine of his teams have participated in regional play, three going on to super regionals. His teams have hosted 3 regionals and 2 super regionals. One team made it to the College World Series. His teams overall record in NCAA postseason play is 23-19.

Hitting - His last four teams have batted .293, .284, .269 and .299. Prior to that, they were in the .301 to .326 range. Those four teams scored 6.6, 6.3, 5.2 and 6.0 runs per game.

Pitching - His pitching staffs normally have an ERA in the 4+ runs per game range. He's also had 3 staffs average 3+, 2 average 5+ and 1 average 6+ runs per game.

Fielding - There wasn't enough data to determine his teams fielding stats.

Collegiate Baseball Top 40 Recruiting Rankings 2005-2007 - 2005 - 38th; 2006 - 7th; 2007 - 39th.

Pro Players - Smith has had 62 players drafted or signed as free agents by the pros, 5 of whom have played in the Major Leagues.

Misc - Smith was born in Gulfport, MS and played part of his college ball at Mississippi College. He also coached at MSU for current head coach Ron Polk for several years. He graduated from Baylor, as did his wife.

Five Years Prior To Hiring Him - The teams had a 167-112 record and played in 2 regionals.

Current Season - His team is currently 19-11 overall, 6-6 in Big 12 play and not ranked nationally. His team is hitting .283, the team ERA is 4.82 and they are fielding at a .971 clip.

Analysis - He has connections to the the state of Mississippi and Mississippi State. He's a solid coach and solid recruiter who understands the tradition of Mississippi State baseball. He's a possible candidate due to those things, but he and his wife's ties to Baylor are very strong strong. And that could be a big factor for both of them.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


Gene's Page Top Stories