The ride was longer and stranger than expected with more rejection along the way, but in the end Texas hired the man we called the favorite to land the job according to a report from the Austin American-Statesman. Pierce's resume lacks the titles of John Savage or Pat Casey, but he has found immediate success at both Sam Houston State (from 2012 to 2014) and Tulane (2015 and 2016) and should have all the tools to succeed here.
Would O'Sullivan, O'Connor of Mainieri have been great hires? Sure. Was getting turned down publicly by every elite coach in America embarrassing? Of course. Was the administration's timing bad and snail's pace of movement frustrating? Absolutely.
Does any of that diminish my excitement over David Pierce? Not one iota.
As a fan of both Texas and Tulane living in New Orleans I've become accustomed with Pierce's work over the last two years. Pierce hasn't had the overall postseason success of many of the candidates Texas was initially linked to, but his immediate success over his last two stops should excite Texas fans. More specifically it's how he turned around Tulane this season that has me excited for the future of Texas baseball. Pierce took over a Tulane squad that had some talent that had been underachieving in its final few seasons under Rick Jones.
The underachievers under Jones thrived under Pierce with no better example of that improvement than former Longhorn Jeremy Montalbano who battled injury to turn in an insanely impressive .845 OPS with 12 homers in 2016. Shortstop Stephen Alemais went from a light hitting, error prone freshman to a third round pick and All Conference player as a junior. Catcher Jake Rogers hit .202 as a freshman and turned into a third round pick with a rocket arm by a junior.
Overall Tulane went from a lightly hitting squad in 2015 (.253 team BA, 29 homers, 4.4 runs per game, 7.8 Ks per game) to a powerful swing for the fences team in 2016 (.264 team BA, 66 homers, 5.7 runs per game, 8.3 Ks per game).
Longtime fans of Texas baseball may not be aware, but some bandwagoners had grown tired of Augie Garrido's primary strategy of bunting, bunting and more bunting. Additionally, hitters under Garrido had a tendency of not improving beyond their original talent level.
Pierce's recent history suggests Texas may see a more flexible offensive approach and improved player development on the offensive side. The Horns have the talent to be elite sooner rather than later and hopefully Pierce is the man for the job.
We'll have more on what to expect with a David Pierce team, but for now we'd like to extend a hearty "Welcome and Hook 'em" to Coach Pierce!