Let me begin by stating the obvious: this is not a new rumor. However, events in the last few hours within the genteel city limits of Charleston, SC have thrown it from moribund to holy shit, this actually might happen. Though the old man in overalls repeatedly reminds us, “Sometimes, dead is better,” let’s plant this rumor deep in those Indian mounds where we buried all those dead cats and see what comes up!
Toward the end of June, likely spurred on by the regressions of hitters such as Ethan Paul and Alonzo Jones (Paul, especially, as he’s hitting like a first round lock in the Cape this summer), and the criminal inability of any Vanderbilt hitter to lay down a simple bunt, Tim Corbin gave first year hitting coach/recruiting coordinator D.J. “Jazzy” Svihlik his walking papers. Svihlik, who had previously worked for the Yankees as an area scout, certainly kept Vanderbilt’s recruiting efforts humming, and, as such, should have no trouble finding work as a scout or recruiting coordinator/assistant coach.
However, Corbin was clearly miffed at the lack of plate discipline and fundamentals displayed by his hitters in ‘17. To be honest, he wasn’t alone. It was not too long ago that Vanderbilt hitters were at the apex of plate discipline, and the bunt was such a lethal weapon, fans dubbed it the Vanderbunt. In ‘17, this was just not the case, and now Corbin seeks a replacement.
Immediately after news quietly broke via Twitter (seriously, it seems as if Kendall Rogers, and only Kendall Rogers, knows a damn thing about the college coaching carousel), and covered by no media outlets other than a VandyMania Forum post, the first name that surfaced was recently ousted South Cackalacky Game Penises head coach Chad “Hal” Holbrook.
Then, we literally heard nothing about the subject until a few hours ago, when Kendall Rogers re-lit that fire with a series of tweets (see here and here, for starters) reporting the horrifically bungled saga at College of Charleston, where Holbrook had an offer in hand from the AD, which was agreed upon by the President, only for the President to Welsh on the deal shortly afterward. Like everything involving Twitter and Presidents these days, the whole ordeal can be summed up in one word: Sad!
Seconds after tweeting out the unfurling of Holbrook’s contract offer with CoC (*need I point out that Holbrook almost moved from coaching the Game Penises to CoC? No? Okay then.), Rogers openly mused the following:
Will Holbrook head to @VandyBaseball? Good Q. All indications until today were that Holbrook was in at C of C, so Corbin could've moved on.
Frankly, Holbrook would be an amazing get, but it would most likely be a one year rental, with Holbrook re-entering the head coaching market in ‘18.
Further, though no one has heard anything or reported anything on the subject, Rogers is right - in the three weeks since Holbrook emerged as a logical candidate to replace Svihlik, Corbin may well have moved on to other candidates
So who would we want to replace Svihlik as hitting coach/recruiting coordinator?
The Pipe Dream that will Never Happen - OSU HC Josh Holliday
Why we’d want him: The brother of big league hitter Matt Holliday was Vanderbilt’s hitting coach/recruiting coordinator from ‘10-’12 (prior to that, he held the same job at Arizona State, who were a bit of a powerhouse during his tenure, and after he left, they sucked hard), during the heyday of the Vanderbunt, and repeatedly did more with less talent that those who have occupied the seat since.
Why he’s not a realistic option: He has been the head coach at Oklahoma State since ‘13, was named Big XII coach of the year in ‘14, went to the NCAA Regionals in ‘14, and had a Cinderella run to the CWS in ‘16. Though his team needed to win the Big XII tourney to even get an NCAA bid this year, they did just that. In short, he has proven himself as the type of coach who can get more out of teams/players than their on paper talent would lead one to believe. If he’s leaving OSU, it’s likely because a bigger program comes calling. Further, he’s not likely to take a pay cut from his $600K salary and a demotion in position just to get out of Stillwater and go for championships in Nashville. I mean, I would, but it’s not going to happen.
The Best Realistic(ish) Option - Chad “Hal” Holbrook
Why we’d want him: To be honest, ol’ Samuel Clemons got a rough shake in Game Penis-Land. When his squad was healthy early in the season, they legitimately had the talent to challenge Florida and LSU for SEC supremacy this year. Then 1) their ace blew out his elbow, 2) their Saturday starter was hypnotized to think he was a chicken, 3) their CF got gigantism from drinking too much nerve tonic, and 4) their star SS fell into a bottomless pit.
So Holbrook got the axe and had to return to his speaking tour to spin yarns about the jumping frog of Calaveras county.
Beyond bad luck, the man can coach AND recruit like a boss. Did you see what Carlos “El Conquistador” Cortes was able to do last year as a freshman? Further, did you see the exponential maturation of him as a hitter from the beginning to the end of the year? I mean, Holbrook damn near turned him into a left handed Jose Altuve. No hyperbole.
Further, Holbrook has been coaching at elite programs since ‘94, when he went straight from player to assistant coach upon graduation at his alma mater, UNC, and stayed there for 15 years. In ‘07, he was promoted to Associate Head Coach at UNC, then took that same job at USC in ‘09 (likely with the understanding that he was to be the Head Coach in waiting). In his 5 years as head Game Penis, Holbrook took them to the postseason thrice, and the Super Regionals twice. This was not good enough for a fanbase who had won the CWS title in ‘10 and ‘11, and whose expectations of and venom for Holbrook was, frankly, unrealistic to unfounded.
If he wants the job, we give him the job. Seriously.
Why he’s not a realistic option: He has been the head coach of a power program for five years, and likely views himself as a head coach only at this point in his career. However, with the CoC offer falling through this late in the hiring period, it would make more sense for Holbrook to take an offer of Associate Head Coach/Hitting Coach/Recruiting Coordinator from Vandy for a year than to take the Div. III Southwestern University job, or any of the pretty much no jobs that remain available.
Two Younger Coaches We Should Throw Money At if Holbrook is Unavailable
1) Andy Jenkins - Oregon State
Why we’d want him: Jenkins is not officially listed as a hitting coach, but that’s only because Pat Casey does not employ one. Rather, he has an Associate Head Coach, Pat Bailey, who is in charge of the outfielders, and Jenkins (listed as Assistant Coach), who is in charge of the infielders and catchers. That should be all I need to say for you to want to back up the Brinks truck to his feet. OSU’s infielders and catchers were otherworldly in plate discipline, barreling up the ball, and baseball IQ. Though some of that is talent, those three areas absolutely can be taught. Why not poach the young teacher of those skills who made our lives miserable in this year’s Super Regional?
Why he’s not a realistic option: Well, I think this would be a more than realistic option, but he is coaching at his alma mater, and that’s a tough bond to break.
2) Micah Gibbs - Louisiana State
Why we’d want him: Though Gibbs has only been the hitting coach at LSU for a year (taking over for Andy Cannizaro after Cannizaro took the Auburn Head Coaching gig), the LSU coaching tree for hitting coaches is insane. Their lineup consistently rakes, and consistently has solid plate discipline. Plus, Gibbs was a catcher for LSU, and in 2010, was an All-American primarily for his hit tool (.388 BA). Gibbs has only been coaching for two years, but has never been away from the game, as he played in the minors for 6 years, reaching AAA.
Why he’s not a realistic option: Same as Jenkins - coaching at his alma mater.
In House Options
Of course, Corbin could always tap into the reserves of his former players currently coaching, or looking to enter the coaching ranks. If so, I’d look at David Macias and Anthony Gomez. However, Gomez, in particular, could likely be added to the staff in a lesser position, like volunteer coach or director of operations, and effectively groomed under Chad Holbrook for a year to take over the reigns the following year.
Either way, I just wrote eleventy billion words about something that may not happen, something that no one, save for Kendall Rogers, will even remotely report on, for a sport in which no games will be played for 7 months.
This is the life I chose.