Pending comments from vocal mega booster Red McCombs, the biggest advocate for a specific candidate to become the fifth Texas Longhorns baseball coach in school history is one of those former coaches, Cliff Gustafson, who told the Austin American-Statesman that he prefers Jim Schlossnagle of the TCU Horned Frogs as the replacement for Augie Garrido.
"I'd love to see them get that guy from TCU," Gustafson told the American-Statesman. "He's always had a good hitting team, and he hasn't been short on pitchers, either. He's had three or four outstanding pitchers every year."
And Gustafson is right about the pitching quality in Fort Worth under Schlossnagle, as BON's Jack Keyes pointed out on Tuesday:
As a former pitcher and pitching coach, Schlossnagle could help make Texas baseball a powerhouse on the mound once again. Schlossnagle coached Chicago Cubs star pitcher Jake Arrieta, and top Reds prospect Brandon Finnegan. In total, the Horned Frogs have had four pitchers drafted in the first three rounds of the MLB draft in the last two seasons, while the Longhorns have had none.
But as much as Gustafson likes the demonstrable teaching ability of Schlossnagle with his pitchers, he knows that the 'Horns need better hitting, too.
"He should be keen on recruiting hitters," Gustafson said of the next Texas head coach. "I think that's one of the areas we've been short on the past few years. We're not getting the recruits we used to get, especially hitters. So we need a guy who's in tune with that need."
Assessing why Texas has struggled in that regard over the last several years is a difficult process, but Schlossnagle has certainly done well in that regard -- in conference play this season, TCU finished second in the Big 12 in batting average, first in on-base percentage, second in slugging percentage, and second in runs scored.
The Horned Frogs head coach positioned his team to hit so well because of success on the recruiting trail in landing Conroe Oak Ridge star Luken Baker lat year, who hit .376 with eight home runs and 54 RBI after finishing as the No. 15 player nationally in 2015, according to Maxpreps. Also a dominant pitcher, Baker has a chance to solidify himself as the top two-way player in the country over the next two years.
Junior infielder Elliott Barzelli is another success story -- the Georgia Tech transfer hit only .250 in his first season at TCU in 2015, but emerged this year as one of the top hitters in the conference with a .373 average, seven home runs, and 43 RBI.
There's buzz about Florida's Kevin O'Sullivan being the top candidate for the 'Horns at this time, but if Schlossnagle shows any willingness to leave Fort Worth for Austin, athletic director Mike Perrin would be wise to strongly consider him as the fifth head baseball coach in school history.