Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The quiet search

Imagine the football coach at Alabama or Auburn resigning, and the resulting search for his replacement going almost two weeks with no leaks and few headlines.

That's the case so far with Auburn's search for a baseball coach, and it's no surprise.

First, the search firm Carr and Associates is handling the search. One has to think that a professional head-hunting firm would know how to protect the heads, so a so-far-leakless search makes sense.

There's also timing. Most of the coaches Auburn might pursue were in conference tournaments last week, and some are in NCAA regionals this week.

Also, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs is in Destin, Fla. for this week's SEC meetings.

So, one sees why there's not much doing here. There's probably back-channel communication, but there doesn't seem to be much else happening at this point.

Jacobs told The Star on Friday that the search would probably take "a few weeks."

As for candidates, naming is guessing. Jacksonville State's Jim Case and Samford's Casey Dunn, whose names have come up in published speculation, are free of obligation. Their teams lost in last week's OVC Tournament.

Same for Troy's Bobby Pierce, whose team bowed out of the Sun Belt tourney.

It would be no shock if Auburn made another run at Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin, who turned down the job in 2004. He's busy with an NCAA regional this week, though.

There's also talk about former Mississippi State and Florida head coach Pat McMahon. It's a curious name, since he was Tom Slater's boss before Slater's ill-fated shot at Auburn's head job. McMahon was fired at Florida and spent last season out of coaching.

I seem to remember him dispersing his 2003 team after the regular season, only to recall them when the NCAA surprised the Gators with a tourney berth.

Then again, McMahon took State and Florida to the College World Series in 1998 and 2005, respectively. He's 555-287 in 15 years as a head coach at Old Dominion, State and Florida.

I've heard other names thrown around in speculation, like Tulane's Rick Jones, New Orleans' Tom Walter, Virginia's Brian O'Connor and Kentucky's John Cohen.

Hey, I'll play. Why not Western Kentucky's Chris Finwood? He left Slater's Auburn staff to become Western Kentucky's head coach, and he has the Hilltoppers in the NCAA Tournament.

I know. WKU's 33-25 record and No. 4 regional seed headed to Sillwater, Okla., won't overwhelm anyone, but the Hilltoppers made a nice run through the Sun Belt tourney. They're in the NCAA tourney, where Auburn hasn't gone since 2005.

And hey, at least I got to mention that my alma mater made the NCAA Tournament.

Back to Auburn's search, things likely will pick up next week. For now, nearly all's quiet on that front. Stay tuned.

Also, don't forget to vote on the search-related poll on this blog. It's just a short scroll on the right side of this page.

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