Back in May 2017, this isn’t exactly where we expected we would find ourselves just six short years later. The Tide was in the midst of the one-year calamity of Greg Goff, when we publicly pleaded for new-AD Greg Byrne to do something, anything — but Goff could not remain the head coach for reasons of his character as much as the on-field product.
Specifically, I wrote:
The mere fact that he is not a good coach is not enough, however. It is that he is not a role model, a mentor, an ambassador for Alabama or the sport. I would not send my child to Alabama to participate in this program, and that is about the damning indictment I can make.
The University of Alabama can handle the losses; we’ve gotten through bad times before.
But, what the program cannot survive is the destruction of goodwill in the baseball community, the exposure to liability he represents, the damage to recruiting pipelines, the alienation of alumni, the loss of donations from boosters, the support of students, and the hard-earned money of fans. The program cannot survive season-after-season of a beautifully-renovated $42 million dollar facility that has become little more than a mausoleum, a sad-but-hopeful monument to what could be. In short, what the program cannot survive is the loss of its credibility, credibility I fear that is already evaporating.
And in every respect, save the winning and losing, we are right back where we began — with credibility destroyed, with an overgrown manchild sacrificing our student athletes for his own short-term pecuniary gain, with another head coach who is not only not an ambassador, but is one that is staring down federal felonies.
Like so many things in the Athletics Department of late, it is unacceptable.
We don’t blame Greg Byrne for Goff — that was a Chris Besanceney guy — but hiring Brad Bohannon is on his hands. And while Bo’s actions may not be Greg’s fault; ultimately, they are his responsibility. That is what sets men apart from boys: ownership. Thus it is incumbent to not only own the Bohannon hire, but to correct it in as immediate a fashion as possible, and with a man of high character and acumen.
Alabama Baseball merely lost credibility in 2017.
Effective yesterday, the Athletic Department has lost my faith.
With that in mind, here’s how to win some of that back with any one of these high quality, affordable coaches that Alabama could realistically attract: SEC talent, SEC exposure, world-class facilities and venue, and the highest paid league in the country are going to draw interest.
Patrick Murphy, Alabama Softball
This is not as crazy as it seems at first blush, particularly when you’ve spent any appreciable amount of time around Murph: he’s a baseball fanatic, a nerd, a historian of the sport. When he’s not at Rhodes, he can usually be found at the New Joe watching Tide Baseball — talking baseball, and nothing but.
Murph is just 57 years old — and a young 57. One of the most popular players in history departs in a few weeks, and the Tide lack an identity after Fouts. Alabama softball is at an inflection point. It’s as good a time to move on as any, assuming he does want to. Pair that with his unease in a softball landscape of velo pitching and hitting, a visit to a far more traditionalist style of play on the diamond would likely suit his temperament fine: great pitching, small ball offense, sound defense. Virginia won a CWS based on just that a few years ago. Tim Corbin has practically made it his MO at Vanderbilt. The Texas Longhorns are perennially powerful because of what they do on the mound.
He has 1125 wins (.692), has won over 100 post season games, has about two dozen WCWS appearances, brought home a ring in 2012...and he’s affordable. He makes $275,000 being a softball legend. Alabama baseball pays the 12th worse in the SEC — we could double Murphy’s salary, still be stingy on the balance sheets, and get a proven winner that has been above reproach for 25 years: no cheating. no shenanigans, no character issues.
It’s not crazy, not really. Habetz is likely looking for his shot, and Murph may just be getting bored. He looks as disengaged this year as at any time I’ve ever seen him.
Dan Heefner, Dallas Baptist
Dan Heefner’s name comes up just about every time there is a marginal Power Five vacancy. Yet, to date, only Baylor has seriously courted him sufficient to land an interview.
Heefner is an absolute hoss. He’s been at DBU for 16 years and has led the Patriots to 10 straight postseason appearances, including taking his-then independent team straight out of NAIA all the way to the NCAA regional: A first in the sport. Heefner’s won five conference titles, four Coach of the Year honors, has tallied 40+ wins in 9 of 16 seasons, and he’s never had a losing season. Not one. Recruiting at DBU, in a land of exceptional talent, with marginal resources is nothing new for him. He’s quite good at maximizing what is on hand and developing the players he brings in.
Heefner is also very well known as a man of faith who runs a very tight ship, and keeps the swab deck clean. The Tide will need that sort of moral authority after Bo. Heefner is due for a job, and if Alabama is serious, this ought to be a serious candidate. Why not us?
*DBU is a private school and does not publicly disclose salaries. But a search of their non—profit filings reveal Heefner makes about $368,00 and is the 3rd highest paid employee at the school. Alabama can give him a significant raise and it still be quite affordable.
Ed Servais, Creighton
Like Alabama, Creighton baseball does not receive departmental funding. As a result, Servais — who’s been a Blue Jay for 18 years — is very adept at navigating the world of 11.7, and criticizing it fiercely. He’s accustomed to flirtations with MLB, and with having an aptitude for keeping his recruits on campus. Alabama could use every bit of that.
As a skipper, Servais has been as solid as you could want. He has four Tourney titles and seven regular season trophies. In his 18 years, he’s posted a .600+ record, at 800–443. And’s taken two different teams to a combined seven NCAA postseason appearances in 18 years.
Servais is also believed to be quite affordable, though Creighton’s filing did not specifically enumerate his salary. But, when he was mentioned in conjunction with the open Nebraska vacancy, his offer at UNL was reported to be $400K. A salary bump and a prestige jump would benefit both parties.
The other stuff matters just as much in this search: Servais runs a clean program, speaks with the gravitas of an older & wiser man, and his ties to MLB greatly enhance his value to recruits. I cannot emphasize enough, though, his ability to maneuver in the 11.7 landscape. Creighton is always going to lose bidding wars to larger, more populous Big East schools, yet he’s remained very competitive in major conference baseball, finishing 1st or 2nd in all-but one year of play.
Willie Bloomquist, Arizona State
This is a name that if you don’t know it yet, is one that you will hear as time progresses. Bloomquist was given the unenviable task of replacing legendary Tracy Smith (former NCOTY, Michigan), in July. And now, in his second season, has vaulted ASU back into the Top 25 in the very competitive PAC 12.
His resume is thin as a coach. But he was just in the league less than a decade ago, and has sold those relationships to recruits. Moreover, he has cachet with other veteran coaches:
“ASU made an exceptional decision in naming Willie Bloomquist to lead its baseball program. Coach Bloomquist is a brilliant baseball mind, and he possesses the excellent communication skills needed to coach and develop young men, both on and off the field.
Coach Bloomquist’s teams will never be outworked, and I know he’ll pass along the tremendous determination that I witnessed first-hand as his Manager.
The young men at Sun Devil Baseball should be excited to have him leading their program!”
-Kirk Gibson (2-time World Series Champion, 1988 NL MVP, 2011 NL Manager of the Year)
“Willie is going to have a great impact on the young men he will coach. He’s uncommonly competitive. If anyone can walk straight from the field to the coaching ranks, it’s Willie. I believe he will do an incredible job leading the program at ASU.”
-Pat Murphy (1998 Baseball America Coach of the Year, ASU Head Coach 1995-2009, Milwaukee Brewers Current Bench Coach)
Bloomquist is a renowned solid citizen and family man.
The more laid-back, family-friendly vibe of Tuscaloosa could be a definite selling point to a man raising four small children in a young family. I mean, have you been to Tempe? Arizona State is where 18-year-old me wanted to go, not where 38-year-old me would want to raise children.
His salary is just $390,000 a year — very manageable, by Alabama’s lights.
The biggest hurdle would be prying him out of there. He’s an ASU alum and CWS legend on campus. But still...kids...Tempe...Alabama cost of living vs. Arizona? Cost of living is 10% higher in Tempe, and housing a full 94% higher. You can live quite well in Tuscaloosa on half a million.
Think of the children, Willie!
Besides, your wife doesn’t want you anywhere near these girls.
Cliff Godwin, East Carolina
His was a name we brought up last search, and the one before that. It’s easy to see why. This is what pedigree ought to look like for coach entering the SEC:
At Vanderbilt, he served as the Commodores’ Director of Baseball Operations before joining Paul Mainieri’s staff at Notre Dame for the 2005 season. After two seasons at Notre Dame, he followed Mainieri to LSU prior to the 2007 season. In 2008, Godwin’s LSU offense hit .306 with 100 home runs and 95 stolen bases.
After two seasons with Mainieri at LSU, which included a trip to the College World Series in 2008, Godwin coached at UCF. With UCF, he helped with numerous highly ranked recruiting classes and helped lead the Knights to the NCAA Tournament in 2011, their first appearance since 2004. Following his stint at UCF, Godwin moved on to Ole Miss, where he served as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator. In 2014, he helped lead the Rebels to their first College World Series appearance since 1972.
Godwin, now in his 9th year at ECU, was high on ‘Bama’s list in 2017 and ought to be again in 2022. He’s won six regular season and conference titles, four COTY awards, has posted a 328–159–1 record. And he’s been great in the postseason: 16-6 in the AAC tourney, 15-12 in the NCAA regionals. This is where Cliff really shines. In 6 of his 7 completed seasons, ECU made regional play — and advanced to supers in five of them. Presently, ECU is 24-8 and in the Top 25.
Someone is going to get this guy out of Greenville, it may as well be Alabama. He just makes $425,000. Give that man a raise and some Script A merch.
There are obviously dozens of other names you could throw out there. These are ones that make sense to me for reasons of affordability, performance, and intangibles.
Who do you want to see? What do you think of these? Anyone jump out at you?
Chime in below.