Meet Mainieri’s successor: LSU lures Johnson from Arizona

Scooter Hobbs

LSU apparently has a new head baseball coach.

The Tigers are set to hire Arizona coach Jay Johnson, according to a report by D1baseball.com and later confirmed by the website The Athletic, to replace the retiring Paul Mainieri.

The 44-year-old Johnson, who’s spent his entire playing and coaching career on the West Coast, has no ties to LSU or the Southeastern Conference.

But he’s known for building aggressive offensive juggernauts, as his Wildcats team this year led the nation in runs scored and their .325 batting average was the best among Power Five schools.

It was his sixth season at Arizona and the Wildcats recently completed his second trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Arizona was the first team eliminated, losing to Vanderbilt 7-6 in 12 innings and then 14-5 to Stanford.

The Wildcats took two of three from Ole Miss in the Tucson Super Regional, winning the decisive third game 16-3.

Johnson also reached the CWS in 2016, his first season at Arizona, and reached the championship game before losing to upstart national championship Coastal Carolina in the final game.

This year he was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year after winning the regular-season conference title with a 21-9 record, 45-18 overall.

His overall record in his six Arizona seasons was 208-114.

His first head coaching job was at Nevada, where he went 72-42 in two seasons, winning the Mountain West Conference the second year, which led to the Arizona job.

His career record is 316–172.

Johnson emerged from a trio of finalists which included East Carolina coach Cliff Godwin and Notre Dame’s Link Jarrett.

Godwin was the only one of the three with LSU ties, having served as an assistant at Notre Dame under Mainieri and following him for his first two years at LSU.

LSU reportedly interviewed former Oregon State coach Pat Casey, a three-time national champion, and at least made overtures to Ole Miss coach Mike Bianco and Florida’s Kevin O’Sullivan.

Money was apparently no problem.

According to The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Johnson was making just over $850,000 at Arizona while LSU was paying Mainieri $1.225 million.

Mainieri announced his retirement on May 28, three days after the Tigers were eliminated from the SEC Tournament, citing health reasons due to chronic neck and back pain.

The Tigers advanced to the super regionals before being swept by Tennessee in a best-of-three series.

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Reports say LSU will hire Arizona’s Jay Johnson to succeed Paul Mainieri as head baseball coach.

Associated Press

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