Texas has interviewed Dallas Baptist University's head baseball coach Dan Heefner for the Longhorns' head coaching vacancy, according to a report by the Austin American Statesman. An unknown source told Ryan Autullo and Kirk Bohls of the Statesman that talks with Heefner went "very well".
At only 38 years old with a winning tradition at the once irrelevant Dallas Baptist, Heefner has long been speculated to be a target for the Texas job. In May, Burnt Orange Nation listed Heefner as a top five candidate to replace Augie Garrido. Here's what we said about him then:
Heefner focuses much more on offensive production than Garrido. This season, Dallas Baptist has five players averaging over .300, and 56 home runs. The team is also aggressive on the base paths, stealing more than even a speedy Longhorns team (74 vs. 62 in attempts last year).
Prior to this year's tournament, Heefner told Dallas' Fox 4 news that he "still has work to do" at Dallas Baptist. Despite going 44-19, the No. 2-seeded Patriots would go on to fall to Texas Tech in the Lubbock Regional.
Heefner has had unprecedented success at Dallas Baptist. Heefner has been on the coaching staff since the team was an independent. The Patriots' first Division I season in 2008 was also Heefner's first year as head coach, and DBU miraculously made the NCAA tournament.
Under Heefner Dallas Baptist has joined the Missouri Valley Conference, hosted a Regional, and appeared in a Super Regional. DBU has invested numerous resources in their head coach, even building a new 2,000 seat stadium, but they would have a hard time keeping him if Texas made an offer.
For Mike Perrin, the question will be whether Heefner has shown that his success at Dallas Baptist is not a fluke. Perhaps the only thing stopping Texas from making Heefner priority number one is that his only collegiate coaching experience is with the Patriots.
As for Heefner, the only thing holding him back would be if he'd rather stay at a school he built from the ground up than undertake a massive rebuilding project. He has already shown that he won't necessarily jump at the chance to coach any power five school. Just last year, Heefner rejected an offer to become the next head coach at Baylor.
The Texas coaching search had been relatively quiet the past week after the news that the Longhorns had interviewed Houston's Todd Whitting and Tulane's David Pierce. At the time, there was speculation that Pierce could be close to being hired by the Longhorns. Heefner, however, may boast a more impressive resume, though Pierce has had a more diverse coaching career, making stops at Rice, Houston, Sam Houston State, and Tulane.
Don't be surprised if Texas now waits until the conclusion of the College World Series to make a decision. Athletic Director Mike Perrin stated that he wants the search to be over by the end of June, but that he may look at some coaches still playing in Omaha. Those coaches are most likely to be Josh Holliday at Oklahoma State and Tim Tadlock at Texas Tech.
This should be the final list of potential candidates to be the fifth Texas baseball coach since 1911. They are ranked in my personal order of who I believe Perrin will prioritize the most -- let me know what you think in the comments.
1. Omaha coaches -- Josh Holliday and Tim Tadlock
2. Dan Heefner, Dallas Baptist
3. David Pierce, Tulane
4. Todd Whitting, Houston
Only time will tell who will remain when the coaching search finally winds down. Though several top tier coaches signed extensions or pulled their name out of contention for the job, the winner of the Texas baseball coaching sweepstakes will likely be just that -- a winner.