There have been several names already tied to the baseball coach’s job at Mississippi State, and many of them make a lot sense.
None of the candidates seem more fit for the job than Kentucky’s Nick Mingione, who worked under MSU athletic director John Cohen from 2009-16 when he was the Bulldogs’ head coach.
Mingione made an instant impact in his first season as the Kentucky head coach, leading the Wildcats to a 43-23 mark and the program’s first Super Regional bid.
Mingione hits a lot of the check marks: He’s young, 39, and has a deep familiarity with the MSU program and how Cohen wants the job done. His experience as an SEC head coach is also a big advantage considering the Bulldogs got burned by hiring Andy Cannizaro, who had never been a head coach and was an assistant at LSU at the time of his hiring in November 2016.
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Cannizaro was a rising star in the profession, but it’s clear now that he didn’t have the maturity to handle the responsibility. He stepped down on Tuesday, acknowledging that he’s made “poor decisions.”
While Mingione makes all the sense in the world at MSU, we all know that there is no such thing as a sure thing.
Add Calvi to the list
One potential candidate that I haven’t heard mentioned much this week, but would expect to be a serious option is South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi.
He took over a proud Jaguars program that was mired in mediocrity in 2012, and the team has shown a steady progression under his watch. USA has 37 wins or more in four of the last five years and appears likely to earn its third consecutive postseason bid this year behind a talented roster.
Calvi’s teams have finished in first place in the Sun Belt in three of the last five seasons and earned a second-place finish in 2017.
The 48-year-old Calvi has SEC experience after working as the pitching coach at South Carolina from 2005-10. His last season with the Gamecocks ended with a College World Series title.
A former scout for the Seattle Mariners, Calvi has a good eye for talent and is a very intelligent baseball guy. He wisely turned down the Tennessee job last year, according to AL.com.
Mingione seems a good fit, but Calvi deserves a look.
With the facilities, resources and winning tradition, Mississippi State is one of the top head coaching jobs in the country. There will be a long line of candidates who will chase the job.
Here are some other names that should draw serious consideration:
Auburn head coach Butch Thompson — Like Mingione, Thompson seems a good fit in Starkville. While he hasn’t had quite the same success as Mingione at Kentucky, Thompson was on Cohen’s staff at MSU from 2009-15. Auburn is 60-58 in two seasons under Thompson, including a postseason bid in 2017.
MSU interim head coach Gary Henderson — If Cohen chose to stick with Henderson, I’m not sure that would go over well with many Bulldog fans. He was 258-199 in eight seasons as the Kentucky head coach and made the postseason twice.
USM head coach Scott Berry — It would be interesting to see what Berry could do with a big budget, but this move seems unlikely for MSU. At 55 years old, Berry would be a little on the older side. However, if he was ever going to make the move to a larger program, now would be the time.
Louisiana Tech head coach Lane Burroughs — With deep Mississippi ties, Burroughs would be tough on the recruiting trail in Starkville. Burroughs, who was on the MSU staff from 2009-12, is 149-133 as a head coach with his first four years spent at Northwestern State.