The search is on at Oregon State. Pat Casey said Tuesday – according to athletic director Scott Barnes – that Casey will not return as the head baseball coach of the Beavers.
They will find another coach, but I’m not sure they will EVER replace Pat Casey. This was a huge loss for the school and the baseball program and it must be understood that there just aren’t a lot of coaches out there capable of doing what he did in Corvallis.
Three national championships? In the state of Oregon? In baseball?
I remain unconvinced that even one more national title is possible for the Beavers anytime soon.
Sure, you can find a coach who knows all about the game. You can find someone who is good with the players, knows all the right moves during a game and when to change pitchers – all of that stuff.
But I’m not sure how possible it’s going to be to find a coach with the dynamic personality, charisma and the charm that Casey brought to the job. And those qualities led to his uncanny ability to bring big-time, blue-chip prospects to that campus – which is probably the most important part of keeping that program in the national spotlight.
Casey’s talent as a recruiter is often overlooked. But make no mistake, it takes great players – big-league players – to win national championships. In the beginning, he won with a lot of elite local players – keeping them from heading south to more well-known national powers. He developed those players and turned them into pro prospects in some cases. But in recent years, he has drawn quality prospects from outside the Pacific Northwest.
Last season’s national-championship team featured three players drafted in the first round of the major-league draft last June and one who went No. 1 this year – along with a pitcher who could eventually be a first-round pick if his arm surgery turns out successfully. Only one of those players came from Oregon. And it’s hard to envision another national title at OSU without players of the quality of Nick Madrigal, Cadyn Grenier, Trevor Larnach, Adley Rutschman and Kevin Abel.
And that takes a great recruiter -- somebody so good that players will pass up a chance to grab the money and try pro ball out of high school but instead head to Beaverville for the promise of three seasons of growth, development and winning big.
Interim Coach Pat Bailey is a fine coach and an even better person. He’s been a valuable member of Casey’s staff. He’ll be a candidate for the job but I’m not sure he will be given the chance. I don’t know athletic director Scott Barnes and have no idea what type of coach he’d favor.
If Bailey – or current pitching coach Nate Yeskie, who is also a qualified candidate -- doesn’t get the job, there are two other candidates who should merit a hard look.
Andrew Checketts, the successful head coach at UC-Santa Barbara who has won 61 percent of his games in his eight seasons there, is an Oregon State grad who pitched three seasons for the Beavers after graduating from West Linn High School. He took the Gauchos to the 2016 College World Series for the first time and was the Big West coach of the year this season. He was also George Horton’s first pitching coach at Oregon and may be a candidate to replace him in Eugene. Known as an outstanding recruiter, his name has also been mentioned as a candidate to fill the vacant job at USC.
Another interesting name would be Scott Brosius, who won a national Division III championship at Linfield, his alma mater, and has been a recent hitting and third-base coach for the Seattle Mariners. He was a World Series MVP for the New York Yankees in 1998, a Gold Glove winner, All-Star Game participant and played 11 seasons in the big leagues. He is currently serving as senior director of player development for USA Baseball – so you’d figure he would have a pretty good idea of who and where are the best young players.
Barnes has said he would like to have a new coach in place in two weeks but replacing this coach is close enough to Mission Impossible that it could take much longer.
After all, Casey is going to be a very tough act to follow.