Editorial: OSU Makes A Change In Softball

Rich Wieligman is out as the Oklahoma State softball coach. In the end it is his name on the program, so when you finish 21-31 overall and 3-13 in the Big 12 -- and trust me the Cowgirls were spared two more losses in both columns when the two games scheduled for the weekend with the nationally ranked Sooners were postponed and ultimately cancelled -- he's the one who is ultimately responsible.

It's too bad that it didn't work out better because I think Wieligman is a good coach, and fundamentally sound. He is a former baseball standout that played in the minor leagues. He knows the game and I saw some pretty cool stuff in softball practices when he first hit town.

That cool stuff carried the Cowgirls to success and in three years back to the NCAA and eventually to the Women's College World Series in 2011. Again, Wieligman has to take the blame for the program fading, but if he had the same caliber of help he had during the program's first four years under his guidance then he might still be guiding.

Wieligman had good assistants. He lost his first one, Matt Meuchel, to Nevada after the first season as the Wolfpack hired their former assistant back to become head coach.

For a long stint Wieligman had Calrisa Crowell coaching the pitchers. You see the head coach was the guy for hitting and the finer points of defense, but in softball it is all about the circle and the girl in it and the coach directing and developing her. Crowell was outstanding, a great hire by Wieligman.

He also had Tom Gray, another good hire that was good with teaching, coaching, and both he and Crowell were good in recruiting. Oklahoma State overachieved some in the circle and the offense and defense was solid and the Cowgirls were better than competitive in the Big 12 and eventually back in Oklahoma City for the Series.

Then Crowell left and Gray was gone and there was somewhat of a revolving door of assistant coaches. This season, in a critical year for Wieligman and the program, the program had two first-year assistants.

In the college sports coaching equivalent of which came first, the chicken or the egg. Wieligman had trouble hiring top-flight assistants because they weren't sure how long they would be in Stillwater because of how long the head coach would be there. It goes to show you how critical assistant coaching hires are in some sports.

In football, Mike Gundy will tell you he is always looking to hire coaches smarter than he is, better coaches than he is. In the end, hiring those kind of coaches reflects back really well on you and will allow you to keep that title of head coach under your name.

Eddie Sutton used to say he only wanted to hire coaches that he felt could develop and become head coaches themselves someday. He did a good job of it.

Since that Women's College World Series trip in 2011 and as the coaching door spun over at Cowgirls Stadium, Oklahoma State was 102-111 overall and 22-54 in the Big 12.

A word to the wise, and whoever gets hired as the next head coach of Cowgirls softball. In a conference that is really tough and in a state that also includes two other really stout Division I programs, including one that is your arch-rival, make sure you hire some good help because it will take three really good coaches to get the Cowgirls rolling again and make sure one of those coaches really knows how to recruit and develop pitchers.

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