How does the old cliche go? If you want something done right, do it yourself?
Texas Longhorns head coach David Pierce is apparently taking that truism to heart less than two weeks after deciding against retaining first-year pitching coach Woody Williams, assuming that mantle for himself heading into the 2024 season, according to a report from the Austin American-Statesman on Monday.
Horns247 later confirmed the news.
Sources: David Pierce will be @TexasBaseball’s pitching coach. Troy Tulowitzki, who was a volunteer assistant for three seasons (2020-22), is back as director of player development. Carli Todd has moved from the DoPD role to director of baseball operations. @_dannydavis first.— Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) July 10, 2023
From a purely statistical perspective, the Horns have hardly struggled consistently in recent seasons on the mound, finishing first nationally in ERA in 2021 before ranking 10th in 2023.
But Pierce has struggled to find a pitching coach with whom he completely aligns philosophically since parting ways with longtime volunteer assistant Phil Haig following the 2019 season in order to hire former major league shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to fill that coaching position with a differing job description.
Another longtime assistant, Sean Allen, took over as the pitching coach for three seasons before becoming a casualty of the disappointing 2022 campaign that featured some significant struggles within the pitching staff. Pierce then took a chance on Williams, who previously coached at San Jacinto College, but had no experience at the highest levels of college baseball.
Following that failed experiment, Pierce is returning to the role that helped elevate him to his first head coaching job at Sam Houston State following six years as the pitching coach at Rice under legendary head coach Wayne Graham.
Pierce’s Texas bio effectively summarizes his success coaching the pitchers for the Owls:
Pierce helped produce five staffs whose ERAs ranked in the NCAA top 30, peaking with the fourth-best mark in the nation in 2007. On that 2007 squad, two Pierce-coached pitchers received major Conference USA awards as Ryne Tacker was named C-USA Pitcher of the Year and Ryan Berry earned freshman of the year honors. Berry also earned Collegiate Baseball freshman of the year honors. In that year alone, eight Owl pitchers were selected in the MLB Draft, including the 19th overall pick, Joe Savery. From 2006-11 under Pierce, 27 Owls pitchers were chosen in the MLB Draft, eight of which were selected in the first 10 rounds. In that span, Pierce tutored six NCAA All-America selections, two freshman All-America selections and a pair of CoSIDA Academic All-Americans in Eddie Degerman (2006) and Tacker (2007).
Former Duke pitching coach Chris Gordon will likely help Pierce with the pitchers after serving in a coordinator role last season that included hitting and pitching development.
To complete the assistant coaching staff, Philip Miller is returning to Pierce’s bench after a season as a special assistant to the head coach. Miller previously worked with catchers and outfielders in addition to assisting with hitters and recruiting.
The coaching staff is complete for @TexasBaseball. Three assistant coaches will be Philip Miller, Steve Rodriguez and Caleb Longley. Tulo rejoins program as Director of Player Development and Coach Pierce will take over as pitching coach, aided by Chris Gordon. #HookEm ⚾️— Zachary Symm (@ZachAtTheDisch) July 10, 2023
The second straight offseason of significant changes on Pierce’s coaching staff will also reportedly include the return of Tulowitzki in a player development role, a potentially significant boon for the Longhorns in building out the 2024 roster and then ensuring its success on the diamond next year.