Over the past couple of weeks at Shakin the Southland, we have discussed a large group of potential candidates to replace Clemson Head Coach Jack Leggett after his 22 year tenure. As they should be, the candidates that we have covered are big name head coaches with connections to the Clemson pipeline, or up and coming coaches from smaller programs that look ready to make the jump to a higher level. But there is one thing that is true among all of the top tier coaches in the game of College Baseball. At one time, they were great assistant/associate coaches.
This brings us to arguably the best Assistant Coach in College Baseball, Kevin McMullan of the University of Virginia. Now I know that it seems like just an opinion when it comes to naming someone one of the best assistant coaches in college baseball, but this is not only my opinion, it is also the opinion of sportswriters and his head coaching peers as well. In 2009, McMullan was named National Assistant Coach of the Year. To follow that up, in November 2012, 70 Division I head coaches were polled by Baseball American and McMullan was again named the best assistant coach in college baseball.
McMullen is currently in his 12th season at the University of Virginia and his 9th as the Associate Head Coach of the Cavaliers. His responsibilities in Charlottesville including recruiting coordinator, hitting coach and he works defensively with Virginia's infielders and catchers.
Virginia's success over the last six years certainly cannot be ignored. It including four trips to the College World Series, 6 NCAA Regional Championships, 2 ACC Championships, and they've recorded 298 wins in the past six years (more than any other program during that time).
There seems to be one common thread between the Head Coaching Candidates that we have noted here on Shakin the Southland, and that is pitching, pitching, pitching. McMullan does not have the pitching background that the other candidates have, but let's not forget the below average fielding that plagued the Tigers this season. While working with Virginia's defense since his arrival in 2004, UVA has the highest fielding percentage in the ACC at an astounding .973 clip (Clemson is at .959 which is 238th). McMullan's hitting background also shines as over the last six years, Virginia leads the ACC batting .314 and has lead the conference in batting average 3 of those 6 seasons.
The obvious lacking area in McMullan's resume is his lack of Head Coaching experience with only 3 years of being a head coach at East Carolina. East Carolina did go 138-46 under his tutelage with a top 25 finish in each year and won 3 Conference Championships. McMullan has also worked in the MLB serving with the Atlanta Braves as he worked with the clubs catchers and hitters during Spring Trainings.
While the Clemson Baseball coaching job is one that is certainly deserving of a big name, lets not forget that big names have to start from somewhere. Despite the lack of significant head coaching experience, McMullan is expected to interview for the opening. Even if he isn't tabbed for the open role at Clemson, don't be surprised if McMullan is one of these big names that we are talking about in the years to come. I would be more than happy to welcome as Clemson's next head baseball coach.