By: Terrill J. Weil
DA BOOT SPORTS!
BATON ROUGE, LA: Sunday afternoon news broke out of Oxford that Ole Miss has offered Mike Bianco a contract extension and that he has withdrawn his name from the LSU head coaching search.. This is no surprise to us here at Da Boot Sports, or to some other media outlets. A source during the week informed me that LSU has had their Tiger Eye fixed on other candidates who are still coaching a team in Omaha, Nebraska.
Bianco was never LSU's first choice to replace Paul Mainieri. If he was, he would be LSU's new head coach already. Bianco has done a great job at Ole Miss, but simply doesn't have the postseason history as a head coach that the Tigers are looking for and we wish him well in his continued career in Mississippi.
The coaches who could be on Scott Woodward's radar are, Chris Lemonis, Brian O'Connor, and Tim Corbin...
Some think O'Connor is a front runner. In 18 seasons at Virginia he has a 749-317-2 record with five appearances in the College World Series, (Runner up to Vanderbilt in 2014, National Champions over Vanderbilt in 2015)...
He also has close ties to Paul Mainieri, as he was a huge part of Mainieri's staff at Notre Dame for several years. However, from 2018-2020 the Cavaliers have slipped, not making a Regional, (2020 due to COVID-19). Even this season with Virginia making it back to Omaha, it took a late season surge to punch their ticket there after a mediocre 35-25 overall, 18-18 in conference record. This could loom large in Woodward's decision if others are interested in the open LSU position. O'Connor is 50 years old and apparently draws a salary of $900,000.
Chris Lemonis has been fantastic in Starkville in his first three seasons after doing a solid job as the head man in Indiana from 2015-2018. He was also on Dan McDonnell's staff in Louisville for seven years helping the Cardinals reach Omaha three times.
He has lead the Bulldogs to Omaha two out of his three seasons, and if not for COVID-19 could have very well been there in 2020 as well. Lemonis is 110-35 at State and has shown the ability to recruit at a high level.
He is also the youngest of the three front runners at 47 years old and has a salary of $600,000. LSU could be his opportunity at a huge pay raise while taking a job at another one of college baseball's most prestigious programs.
Tim Corbin and his Vanderbilt Commodores sit on top of the college baseball mountain as the defending national champions. The Commodores look as strong as ever as they have begun their title defense in Omaha. Corbin is my personal favorite and I believe is Woodward's also. However, one concern is his age. How much longer will the 59 year old Corbin choose to continue coaching?
He also carries a pretty hefty salary, ($2.3 Million), that would need to be topped to lure him away from Nashville. Woodward however has shown that you can't put a price on chasing championships as he shocked the Nation when he was able to ink Kim Mulkey away from Baylor a couple of months ago.
In 19 seasons in Nashville, Corbin has a 798-374-1 overall record while going 306-216-1 in the SEC. Vanderbilt has qualified for a NCAA Regional 16 out of 19 years during his tenure, (2020 due to COVID-19), highlighted by five trips to Omaha, winning it all twice while finishing runner up once, with this season still to be determined of course.
Early on Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan was rumored to be high on Woodward's list, which thankfully turned out to be a rumor. I personally would have lost several nights of sleep if LSU would have brought him over from Gainesville to take over. I don't care what he has accomplished with the Gators. I just feel like he isn't a good fit for Baton Rouge and thankfully so did Mr. Woodward.
Another was the very successful former Oregon State head coach, Pat Casey who has a career record of 900-458-6 along with three national championships (2006, 2007, 2018) with the Beavers. The legendary 62 year old Casey had reportedly met with LSU, but apparently no deal could be reached or agreed on. With the recent cover up of sexual assault on the LSU campus, most have felt like Casey comes with too much baggage after a former star OSU pitcher pleaded guilty in 2012 to felony child molestation. It reported in June 2017 that Luke Heimlich had admitted to inappropriate contact with his niece, who was 6 at the time of Heimlich's court proceedings. He rejoined the team in 2018 with the support of Casey and Oregon State President Ed Ray.
Others who were rumored to be on LSU's list of candidates were Cliff Godwin of East Carolina and Dan McDonnell of Louisville who without a doubt is one of the Nations best. With neither advancing to Omaha and no deal with either being announced yet, it is a strong sign that for some reason Woodward has others higher on his list.
No matter who Scott Woodward decides on to replace Paul Mainieri, I have all the confidence in the world that it will be a great hire that will take the LSU baseball program back to the top....