Notre Dame baseball has already enjoyed success in the modern era, before this current run, as Paul Mainieri showed the Fighting Irish could consistently win at a high level.
Then Link Jarrett proved the same in just over two seasons as chief skipper in a season that just ended this week with a College World Series top six.
Is it the easiest job in the world? No.
Weather, recruiting, travel and facilities will likely always be significant hurdles for the Irish, but Notre Dame has been as successful as any college baseball program since Jarrett took over in 2020.
When the College World Series began last week, Notre Dame trailed only Tennessee in winning percentage since 2020 and the Irish had just won the Super Regional in Knoxville against the top-ranked Vols.
The schedule is hotter than ever, and Notre Dame decision makers will now be tasked with deciding the direction of Fighting Irish baseball.
Hiring a new baseball head coach will be the first task for Jack Swarbrick and company. Some names on Notre Dame’s list to call might be:
Jim Penders – UConn
The UConn alum would be a tough shot because “he could run for governor and win in a landslide.” the Huskies did not make the College World Series. Penders has taken UConn to two Super Regionals, the last of which will be in 2022.
Penders won the BIg East regular season title three times, the Big East Conference Tournament four times, and was named Big East Conference Coach of the Year three times.
Will he leave a place where he has been since essentially 1991, when his playing career began? Maybe if he wants to go to Omaha.
1997- UConn (GA)
1999-2003 – UConn (Assistant)
2004–present – UConn (Head Coach)
Justin Haire – Campbell
Haire is a hot name in the coaching world, as Campbell has gone 78-37 over the past two seasons and played in four straight NCAA regional championships. Under Haire, the Fighting Camels are 240-175 with four Big South titles, three Big South Tournament championships and he was named Big South Coach of the Year three times, including in 2021 and 2022.
The Hamilton, Ohio native played his college ball at Bowling Green before transferring to Indianapolis, much like Pender, Haire knows the challenges of playing in the Midwest.
2004 – Sterling (Wizard)
2005-2007 – Baptiste Ouachita (Assistant)
2018-2014 – Campbell (Deputy)
2015–present – Campbell (head coach)
Rich Wallace – Notre Dame Assistant Coach
If Notre Dame wanted to stay in-house, Wallace would be the guy because he’s a hot name in college baseball. In fact, we’re told Wallace was once offered a head coaching job and turned it down. Wallace has nearly 20 years of coaching experience and has developed talent at all levels during his career. He is credited with developing eight All-Americans, 49 All-Conference selections, and 49 players being selected in the MLB Draft.
Wallace specializes in capturing, striking and recruiting. Notre Dame’s recruiting surge since 2020 should be credited to Wallace as he has taken on the majority of the heavy lifting. Now he’s never been a head coach, but if he’s not the next head coach at Notre Dame, we expect him to be a head coach somewhere else – specifically, we’re told. , Wallace had several conversations with Northwestern and prior to that was a top candidate for the position in Western Kentucky before, we are told, he withdrew his name from consideration due to the additional opportunities expected.
2003-2008 – Central Florida (volunteer assistant coach)
2008-2011 – High Point (Deputy)
2011-2014 – High Point (Assistant/Recruitment Coordinator)
2014-2017 – Creighton (assistant/recruitment coordinator)
2017-2018 – Jacksonville (Assistant/Recruitment Coordinator)
2019-Present – Notre Dame (Wizard)
Jeffrey Duncan – Kent State
Duncan has been Kent State’s head coach since 2014, and Golden Flashes posted a 279-178 record. Kent State made two NCAA regional appearances in 2014 and 2018, while Duncan was named MAC Coach of the Year three times (2016, 2017, 2018).
The Harvey, Illinois native is another Midwestern coach who coached at Auburn and Purdue after his MLB career with the New York Mets. Duncan was pulled out of high school, but opted to play at Iowa State before transferring to Arizona State.
Kent State finished 24-29 in 2022, but it was the first time Duncan’s program was below .500 during his tenure.
2009 – Auburn (volunteer coach)
2010-2013 – Purdue (Assistant/Recruitment/Coordinator)
2014-Present – Kent State (Head Coach)
Chris Michalak – Washington Nationals Staff
The former Notre Dame played professionally for 17 seasons, including four in MLB with Arizona, Cincinnati, Texas and Toronto. Michalak has spent the last 13 seasons as a coach or coordinator. He went to high school at Joliet Catholic Academy (Illinois) and is another coach who knows the Midwest very well, but also Notre Dame as he experienced it as a player.
Michalak would also bring an advantage by being able to connect former players and alumni with current players as well as his extensive connections in Major League Baseball.
Pittsburgh head coach Mike Bell could easily get a call from Notre Dame, but we think he’d hold his own in Pitt, as Tennessee seems like the dream job for the former state player. from Florida.
James Ramsey, who is currently the Associate Head Coach at Georgia Tech. Ramsey was the clear No. 2 option for Florida State behind Link Jarrett as he is one of the best players to ever come out of the Seminoles program.
Former Notre Dame head coach Paul Mainieri almost seemed like he was lobbying for the College World Series job, but does he really want to return to coaching and is it worth passing on a young name?
One name out of the box would be Craig Biggio, the former Houston Astros second baseman. Biggio’s two sons, Conor and Cavan, played baseball for the Fighting Irish and his daughter was a senior on the Notre Dame softball team in 2022.
Notre Dame will also have to make a fairly timely hire as the transfer portal is highly relevant in college athletics. The Irish could lose some of the top talent to graduation and the MLB Draft, but retaining their core for 2023 is crucial to the program’s future success. It starts with Brooks Coetzee III, Zack Prajzner and Carter Putz, who were to return to Notre Dame. Senior outfielder/DH Jack Zyska, sophomore outfielder TJ Williams and LHP rookie Jack Findlay would also have no shortage of suitors as well as some of Notre Dame’s freshman batsmen like DM Jefferson and Joey Spence. It should also be noted that Notre Dame has several young pitchers outside of Findlay (Matt Bedford, Roman Kimball, Radek Birkholz, Jackson Dennies) that the Irish need to keep on the roster.
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