Auburn, Ala.—When you look at the last 25 years in college baseball it’s hard to find many hires comparable in terms of resume like the one Sunny Golloway to Auburn. A proven winner in 16 full seasons as a head coach at Oral Roberts and Oklahoma, Golloway has amassed a record of 681-337-1, including 12 seasons with at least 40 wins.
Throw in the hiring of two-time national championship coach Clint Myers from Arizona State for the softball program (eight times counting juco national titles) and you have an impressive daily double for Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs on Friday.
This season at Oklahoma, Golloway led the Sooners to a 43-21 overall record , a Big 12 Tournament title, an NCAA Regional title and a Super Regional appearance. Overall he made seven regional berths in eight seasons in Norman and four NCAA Super Regionals in addition to a College World Series berth in 2010.
For Jacobs the fact that he accomplished those feats as a school such as Oklahoma wasn’t a factor in the decision to bring him to the Plains. However, there is little question it makes things even better for the future of the program when you bring someone on board with the experience and success Golloway has had in his career.
“The goal wasn’t what league they came from,” Jacobs said. “The goal was to hire people that gave our student-athletes (an opportunity to win championships). As you saw last week our APR was better than it has ever been. We think those student-athletes should also have, as Gary Waters (Auburn Athletic Academic Advisor) says, a diploma on their hand and a ring on their finger.
“We went after the top people we think give our current student-athletes the chance to win championships,” he added. “So we went after the best. Because of some of the things that Coach Golloway said and Coach Myers said, because of the attractiveness of Auburn University and the people in the community and our values and what it means to raise your children here, it made this place very attractive to a lot of people. It wasn’t about BCS or anything like that, it was really about the quality of the person and winning championships and having a proven record.”
Augie Garrido is perhaps the most accomplished coach any school hired away from another one as the three-time College World Series winner at Cal-State Fullerton moved to Texas in 1997. He has since added two titles with the Longhorns.
Andy Lopez won a national championship at Pepperdine in 1992 and was hired by the Florida Gators in 1995. He led Florida to a pair of College World Series appearances and five NCAA Tournament trips in seven seasons before being let go. He resurfaced at Arizona and where he won the 2012 national title.
In the SEC perhaps the biggest name hire in the last decade is John Cohen moving from Kentucky to Mississippi State where he played his college baseball. His record with the Wildcats wasn’t anywhere close to matching that of Golloway, however.
In five seasons at Kentucky, Cohen made a pair of regional appearances but turned the Kentucky program into a winner. Is his fifth season at Mississippi State, Cohen has the Bulldogs in the College World Series and has made three consecutive regional appearances.
Tennessee made one of the biggest hires in the SEC when the Vols plucked Dave Serrano from Cal-State Fullerton following the 2011 season. In his seven seasons as a head coach at Fullerton and UC-Irvine he had six NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of College World Series berths.
Maybe the other biggest hire in the SEC was Arkansas hiring Dave van Horn from Nebraska to come back to his alma mater. At Nebraska he made four NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of College World Series’ before making the move back to the Razorbacks. Since getting back to Arkansas he has made 11 consecutive postseason berths with three trips to Omaha.
Does that guarantee that Golloway will turn Auburn into a college baseball powerhouse overnight? No it doesn’t, but there is no doubt that Jacobs has given the Tigers every chance to be successful in the future.
For Golloway the future is now. Saying he wants to win early and often, the goal is a championship at the end of the season. Fortunate enough to witness many celebrations in his career, Golloway said he’s excited to see what the future holds at Auburn and he hopes it ends with plenty of hugs to go around.
“You hug your players when you win a championship,” Golloway said. “You shake their hand when they commit to your institution. You coach them up and pat them on the back an awful lot, but when you really huge and embrace your student-athletes is usually right after they are getting up off of that dogpile and you’re asking them if they are okay.
"We’ve got to hug our student-athletes an awful lot in the past and there is no feeling better than that. You are sweaty. You are smelly. You are dirty, but you are hugging each other like crazy. We want to be able to hug our players an awful lot.”
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