In case you haven't been paying attention, Auburn hired Oklahoma's Sunny Golloway as head baseball coach Friday evening. From the Auburn point of view, it's an absolute smash hit. But what do OU fans think? I got in touch with Jordan Esco, one of the managers at Crimson & Cream Machine to get his opinion.
College and Magnolia: So, Auburn hired Oklahoma's Sunny Golloway to replace fired baseball coach John Pawlowski. For us, this is a huge hire, and the fanbase is really excited. Are OU fans devastated to lose Golloway? What's the reaction?
Jordan Esco: I feel pretty confident in saying it will be a mixed reaction. Golloway has a unique relationship with OU Baseball fans. Despite countless postseason appearances and 40+ win seasons, OU fans have never really embraced him as the leader of this program.
So I definitely think you're going to get a decent portion of OU fans who will say "good riddance," but I really feel like it's going to be a case of you don't know what you have until it's gone. And that's coming from a guy who's had more than my fair share of issues with the guy, but issues aside you can't argue with the fact they guy wins games. I think he's going to be very difficult to replace and if nothing else that should tell you it's a solid hire on the part of Auburn.
CaM: How would you describe Golloway as a coach?
JE: In a word, demanding. It's not something that is going to come across in interviews as he could not appear to be more humble when speaking in public. I've always been amazed by the drastic contrasts between the two supposed personalities you see and the one you hear about. But by all accounts he can be a very different person behind the scenes and an incredibly strict disciplinarian as a head coach.
That works for certain guys and those OU players swear by the guy. However, the flip side of that coin resides in the former OU players who no longer associate with the program as a result of their dealings with Golloway.
I don't really think it's fair to judge him entirely on things heard secondhand, but it's also a case of if you hear it enough times over the course of nine years there has to be at least some degree of truth to the talk.
I feel confident in saying Golloway gets the most out of his players, but he can also push them over the edge at times and force them to shut him out. It's a fine line and a lot of the time he straddles it without the finesse of some other head coaches, but it's fair to say he has more successes than failures.
CaM: What are Golloway's biggest strengths?
JE: I feel like by the end of this I'll sound like a broken record, but for me his biggest strength is his ability to win games. Granted, the Big 12 isn't as deep as the SEC but Oklahoma also doesn't have the same resources, from a baseball perspective, Golloway will have access to at Auburn either.
Despite not having the best reputation among the high school coaches within the state of Oklahoma, he consistently pulled in solid recruiting classes so it appears as though he can turn on the charm when need be.
CaM: His biggest weaknesses?
JE: A lot of what I'd consider his weaknesses to become second hand from those in and around the program, but fair or not the guy has a reputation for being difficult to deal with. He's also been through a number of assistants during his time in Norman, so his difficulty in dealing with people may extend beyond just his players. He can be incredibly hard on this players and that wears on guys over the course of a fifty plus game season. In my opinion, he also has a tendency to over manage at times be it with substitutions or with how he calls a game.
CaM: What kind of baseball should Auburn fans expect from Golloway's teams.
JE: Well, as I've said the guy wins games so I'll be surprised if you don't see some significant improvement. He is definitely not afraid to play 'small ball' which is something OU fans have often taken issue with at times with respect to his decision when and when not to do so. He, like so many other teams, had to make a big adjustment when the BBCOR bats were brought into the college game, but he's done so with a solid degree of success.
Based on his track record at Oklahoma, you can also expect some roller coaster like ups-and-downs throughout the regular season. HIs OU teams have been pretty notorious for highs and equally as notorious lows within the span of a couple weeks at times.
CaM: I know you're probably not intimately familiar with Auburn's baseball program, but do you think he can win on the Plains?
JE: From what I know about the SEC things certainly aren't going to get any easier for him with respect to the competition. Oklahoma was one of the upper tier Big 12 programs and in large part because Golloway got them there. Can he do the same with Auburn? I certainly don't think it's impossible, but I do believe it will be more difficult for him to get Auburn there than it was Oklahoma.
That said, from what I've read about the Auburn administration's commitment to the baseball program it sounds as though Golloway will have every advantage necessary to get the job done. And the lack of that same commitment seems to have played a significant role in his decision to leave Oklahoma based on everything I've heard since the news of his hiring broke.
*** I also want to just kind of quickly clarify everything I've said here because I'm assuming some may read this and either (1) come away with a very negative perception of Golloway and/or (2) think this is just ripping a guy on his way out the door because of sour grapes. While, as I've said, a decent portion of OU fans (myself included) have had their issues with Golloway at times, I stand by the statement this is a very good hire for Auburn. Winning cures just about everything and no one can argue with the fact he wins games. He might not always have won the games OU fans thought he should have won, but at the same time it's hard to nitpick five straight 40 win season and a Super Regional appearance in three of the last four years.
I can think of no better compliment for the guy than saying confidently that he will be very, very difficult to replace.