Earlier, we detailed the case for firing Mitch Gaspard as the head baseball coach at The University of Alabama. Despite evidence to the contrary in our personal lives, we do believe that it is always best to head into a situation with a plan. So, with that in mind, these are our choices for the best replacements.
Dan Heefner, Dallas Baptist University: Number One with a bullet
Heefner is in his ninth year as head coach of the DBU Patriots. Recognized by Baseball America in 2013 as one of the Top 10 Coaches in College Baseball under the age of 40, Heefner has guided the DBU program to the NCAA postseason on five separate occasions and owns a career record of 302-168 (.643 win percentage). Most recently, Heefner guided the Patriots to a historic season in 2015, as DBU won a school-record 46 games and hosted the program’s first-ever NCAA Regional Tournament. The Patriots also held the No. 1 RPI in the nation for eight of the last nine weeks of the regular season and finished the year ranked No. 15 in the country. Heefner has a history of success on the big stage and — more importantly than ever in the SEC — developing pitching.
Dan McDonnell, Louisville: Does he even want to move up?
Under McDonnell, Louisville has appeared in three College World Series (2007, 2013, 2014), four super regionals, and 7 NCAA Tournaments. He has won two Big East Tournaments and four Big East regular season titles. McDonnell was one game away in 2015 from leading the Louisville Cardinals to three straight College World Series appearances. He is a Citadel graduate and spent five years as an assistant at Ole Miss, so he knows the recruiting terrain. Whether he would make the move is up for debate.
Casey Dunn, Samford University: He's very good, but...
Pros: Under his leadership, Samford has posted 30-plus wins in eight of the last 10 seasons. The team has also played in the Southern Conference Tournament title game in four of the last five years. In 2012, Dunn coached the Bulldogs to their first SoCon championship and NCAA Tournament bid. The team also set a school record for wins with 41. In 2012, Dunn’s squad produced a school-record seven Major League Baseball draft picks, with a total of nine players eventually signing on with MLB teams.
RED FLAG ALERT: He’s a Barner. However, sources indicate Dunn would listen, if approached.
Jim Schlossnagle, Alabama better open the checkbook
Following assistant stints at Clemson and Tulane and a two year HC tenure at UNLV, Schlossnagle was named the head coach at TCU in 2004. Since the Horned Frogs moved to the Mountain West and later to the Big 12, they have won the regular season title in every year except one under Schlossnagle. Including five super regional appearances and three CWS appearances. The issue here is whether he would see this as a lateral move. He already makes $75,000 more than Gaspard, is in a comparable conference and in a big park with a brand new practice and player development facility. So, unless The University is poised to make a substantial financial investment, he seems less likely than the previous three names. Schlossnagle is a graduate of Elon College in North Carolina and UNO in New Orleans.
Dave Madagan, Arizona Diamondbacks: A popular wild card
Dave is my favorite baseball player in Alabama history, leading the Tide to its runner-up finish in the 1983 College World Series against Texas, a result that prompted buckets of crimson sports tears from yours truly. His .525 batting average in 1983 remains fifth best in NCAA history. Since leaving the University, Magadan has seen varying degrees of success as a journeyman hitting coach. The Padres, during his tenure, were dead last in MLB hitting. However, while with the Red Sox, improvements were seen, highlighted by a World Series win. He is currently the hitting coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks, receiving high praise for 1B Paul Goldschmidt’s recent success.
Magadan has no college baseball coaching or recruiting experience. However, he does have name recognition within the University’s donor circle, which always counts for something in Tuscaloosa
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