It's been a week and a half since Auburn fired head baseball coach John Pawlowski, and since the initial speculation on potential candidates to take over the program, there hasn't been much buzz around the search for a replacement. So, what exactly is going on?
First of all, everything in this post is based on hearsay from folks who are "in the know." In the past, these sources have been right and wrong at times, and if anyone would be in on the scoop, it would be them. That said, there's a lot of contradictory info coming out of Auburn, and it's hard to tell what's accurate and what isn't. Take it for what it's worth.
- The only really big name currently being floated is N.C. State head coach Elliott Avent, who is a candidate, according to Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game ($). Avent is the all-time wins leader in Raleigh and has led the Wolfpack to 13 regionals and four super regionals since he took over in 1997. N.C. State is still competing in the postseason and will host Rice this weekend with a trip to the College World Series on the line.
- Samford head coach Casey Dunn and Mississippi State pitching coach Butch Thompson were expected to be serious contenders when the search began, and they still appear to be top targets. Dunn's prospects are hard to read: Some say he is the absolute favorite for the job, but others claim the administration and those advising are split on the former Auburn catcher. Specifically, Jay Jacobs seems to be against Dunn, and Mac Crawford -- yes, that Mac Crawford -- is for him.
- At least one person believes Coastal Carolina head coach Gary Gilmore has received an offer with a sizeable salary upgrade. Gilmore has done wonders at Coastal, but he's never run a major program. He turned down Auburn for the job in 2008.
- South Alabama head coach Mark Calvi has been mentioned. His Jaguars were eliminated in three games last weekend at the Starkville Regional.
- Central Florida head coach Terry Rooney is still following all those Auburn-related Twitter accounts, but we haven't heard any mention of his name as a candidate.
What to make of it all? Your guess is as good as ours. This isn't like a football coaching search, where everyone is interested and tons of leaks emerge. This is all going on under the radar because, frankly, the majority of Auburn sports fans couldn't name any current college baseball coach.
The fact that Auburn has not yet made a move is telling. It's likely that Jacobs is waiting on someone still participating in the NCAA Tournament. Both Avent and Thompson are preparing for super regionals, so either would make sense as a possible top candidate at this stage in the game. The Tigers could do worse than Thompson, but let's hope Auburn is waiting on Avent -- and let's hope he has mutual interest. The N.C. State coach has a wealth of experience and a proven track record in one of the nation's top conferences, and at 57-years-old, he probably still has at least a decade left in the business.
If Auburn hires Dunn -- or any other coach that isn't currently still playing -- he'll likely be a second or third choice. There's no reason to wait on hiring someone that's just sitting at home.