Since head coach Augie Garrido stepped down on May 30, Longhorn fans have been left speculating over a potential replacement. And while a bevy of recent contract extensions has helped dwindle a lengthy list of candidates, numerous qualified coaches remain. Here are the top five candidates to become the Longhorns’ leader at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
1. Oregon State head coach Pat Casey: The two-time national champion has a lifetime gig in Corvallis, Oregon, if he wants it. Casey took a doormat Oregon State program to the peak of collegiate baseball in back-to-back years, claiming national titles in 2006 and 2007. But 10 years after his first championship, it may be time for Casey to move on. The Beavers finished fourth in the Pac-12 in 2016 and failed to reach postseason play. If there’s a time for Casey to bolt to a bigger program with significantly stronger resources, it’s now.
2. UCLA head coach John Savage: Savage had gone under-the-radar in the Longhorns’ coaching search over the past two weeks. That is until last Saturday, when Jeff Howe of 247Sports reported that he was one of two Texas coaching targets. And while the other top candidate — University of Virginia head coach Brian O’Connor — pulled himself out of the running, Savage is still very much in play. But with a 2013 national title under his belt and one of the Pac-12’s premiere programs, it may be hard for Savage to leave UCLA.
3. Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday: Texas is familiar with Holliday, who has matched wits with Garrido since 2013. Despite a short tenure in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Holliday has made quite the impact. He won Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2014 and currently has his team competing for a College World Series. He’s been the Cowboys’ most successful coach in recent memory, but he could be coerced into heading south for the prestige — and pay raise — that comes with joining the Longhorns.
4. Former MLB player Lance Berkman: In a surprising piece of news on Tuesday, Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported that Berkman was throwing his hat into the ring. Despite Berkman’s claim that Texas hasn’t made contact, he seems very confident in his candidacy. Berkman’s MLB credentials are impressive, but he’s the least experienced of Texas’ top coaching candidates. He is a long shot for now.
5. Dallas Baptist head coach Dan Heefner: Heefner doesn’t have the name recognition that many on the 40 Acres are clamoring for, but he is certainly a qualified candidate. The Patriots’ skipper has led his team to four NCAA tournaments, including a super regionals appearance in 2011. The pressure associated with Texas athletics may not appeal to Heefner, but he is no stranger to the program: the Heefner-led Patriots ended the Longhorns’ 2015 season in that year’s NCAA Tournament.