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Former McNeese State baseball coach Terry Burrows, right. (American Press Archives)

Former McNeese State baseball coach Terry Burrows, right. (American Press Archives)

Possible candidates to replace Burrows as McNeese baseball coach

Last Modified: Saturday, May 25, 2013 7:09 PM

By Alex Hickey / American Press

Now that Terry Burrows is gone, the question is where athletic director Tommy McClelland will turn to put the McNeese baseball program back on a winning track.

McClelland has shown a willingness to go outside the box geographically when he makes hires. Both volleyball coach Terry Gamble and softball coach Mike Smith were hired from afar after achieving success at the junior college level.

There’s no telling what direction he’ll go, but we can at least make educated guesses as to some names that might appear on a short (or long) list. And yes, the emphasis in that sentence is on the word “guess.” Anything can happen.


A SUCCESSFUL LOWER-LEVEL COACH

Jeff Willis, LSU Eunice: McClelland wouldn’t have to look far to replicate his previous JUCO hires. Willis has enjoyed a ridiculous amount of success in Eunice, where the Bengals are currently trying for their fifth NJCAA title in the last seven years.

Willis’ players have frequently gone on the acheive success at the Division I level — 99 transfered up in the last 10 years, and 42 have been drafted.

However, Willis is also LSUE’s athletic director. Being your own boss has its perks, particularly in the department of job security. It would be understandable if he did not want to give that up.


AN UP-AND-COMING ASSISTANT

• Justin Hill, ULM: Hill is the associate head coach and pitching coach for the Warhawks. He’s also deeply familiar with the Southland. He spent four years at Southeastern Louisiana before heading to Monroe in 2012. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Sam Houston State in 2007, and got his start in collegiate coaching at Northwestern State from 2004-05.

He’s also spent a year in the “big time,” serving as an assistant on the LSU staff in 2006.

Clay Van Hook, Rice: Van Hook is in his second year at Rice after serving under Burrows for three years at McNeese. Since Burrows left on good terms, it wouldn’t be an awkward scenario for Van Hook to come back.

Though Van Hook is an awfully young choice, it has worked for the Cowboys in the past — Tony Robichaux was only 26 years old when he took over the program before eventually moving on to Louisiana-Lafayette after a strong stint in Lake Charles.


SEC ASSISTANTS

McNeese doesn’t offer SEC pay, but it could be used as the launching pad for an established assistant coach looking for his first head coaching opportunity. That is the direction Northwestern State went last year when it brought in Mississippi State assistant Lane Burroughs.

Cliff Godwin, Ole Miss: Godwin has served the Rebels as an assistant to former McNeese coach Mike Bianco since 2011. Prior to that, he had stints at UNC-Wilmington, Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, LSU and Central Florida.

Javi Sanchez, LSU: Could the Cowboys go back to the same well that brought them Bianco in 1998? Sanchez has served as LSU’s hitting coach for five years under Paul Maineri. Much like Bianco, he’s a Florida native with no real Southwest Louisiana connection, but could make a nice career jump with a few years of success at McNeese.

These five names are by no means a comprehensive list of candidates, and there is no guarantee any of them will even submit their names for the opening. The only thing that is apparent is that each has a résumé worthy of the job.

Posted By: Eddie Williams On: 5/29/2013

Title: Coach...

I saw on the Perfect Game website that Auburn assistant Ty McGahee is a candidate, Have you heard this also? Do you know if he would be a good choice?

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