Following a two-and-barbecue exit from the College World Series, Texas Longhorns head coach David Pierce is shaking up his coaching staff — D1Baseball.com reported on Monday evening that longtime Pierce assistant Sean Allen is out only hours after the Longhorns were eliminated from the College World Series.
COACHING SCOOP: In a rather bizarre move, @TexasBaseball has parted ways with pitching coach Sean Allen. Allen's pitching staff ranked 26th (4.22) nationally in ERA and led the #Big12 in ERA this spring. He was the @d1baseball Assistant of the Year in 2021 as well. #Hookem— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) June 21, 2022
Danny Davis of the Austin American-Statesman confirmed the news.
Also the recruiting coordinator for the Longhorns, Allen has worked under Pierce since the Texas head coach was elevated from Rice assistant to Sam Houston State head coach in 2011, joining Pierce’s staff from FIU.
In Huntsville, Allen was a part of three straight Southland Conference title teams before following Pierce to Tulane and then to the Forty Acres when Pierce replaced legendary head coach Augie Garrido following the 2016 season.
During Allen’s coaching career, he’s served as a pitching coach and as a hitting and infielders coach, transitioning from the latter roles into the pitching coach when volunteer assistant Phil Haig was replaced by Troy Tulowitzki in 2019.
The first two years in that role went well for Allen — the staff compiled a 2.59 ERA with 168 strikeouts in 153 innings in the COVID-shortened 2020 season and then led the nation with a 2.93 ERA in 2021 as Ty Madden won Big 12 Pitcher of the Year honors. In the bullpen, right-handers Tanner Witt and Aaron Nixon quickly solidified the back end with phenomenal seasons. For Allen’s work, he was named D1Baseball.com’s Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021.
But Nixon regressed in 2022, the bullpen overall struggled, and starters Pete Hansen and Lucas Gordon finished the season with poor starts in the College World Series, ending a season that started with the Horns ranked as the nation’s top team. The pitching staff’s 4.22 ERA still led the Big 12 and was competitive nationally, but too many power arms, especially in the bullpen, failed to develop as Nixon in particular when from lights out to nearly unusable.
The bottom line — Allen isn’t a pitching coach by trade and Pierce made the calculation that he needs an upgrade in that area after the struggles this year.
Pierce now has critical choices to make in how he constructs his coaching staff.
Tulowitzki has now spent three seasons as a volunteer assistant and could be a candidate for head coaching jobs. And while Tulowitzki doesn’t need the money after his lucrative MLB career, a promotion is well deserved after his work with the infield and with the hitters over the last several seasons. When Tulowitzki joined the staff, he profiled as an assistant with huge upside as a coach and he’s been every bit as good as expected, if not better.
That path would result in Pierce hiring a volunteer assistant to coach the pitchers and then making a decision about who will serve in Allen’s longtime role as Pierce’s recruiting coordinator.
Regardless of how Pierce decides to construct his staff, Allen’s termination is a clear admission that the coaching wasn’t good enough in that area, that Pierce is willing to value the program’s future over his longstanding coaching relationships, and that he understands the urgency to remain competitive in 2023 instead of giving in to a rebuilding season.
So now Pierce will face some of the most consequential decisions of his Texas tenure.