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A Closer Look at the Latest Candidates for the LSU Baseball Coaching Position

Tigers researching potential coaches in the College World Series, have settled on a few in the SEC

The LSU coaching search continues to be meticulous and one of the benefits is diving into some of the newly surfaced candidates, all of whom are coaching in Omaha at the moment. 

News trickled down on Saturday that the program was through interviewing Mike Bianco and Cliff Godwin for the head coaching spot. However the Daily Advertiser added three names to its report that the program is now condsidering. Since those interviews took place, Bianco has been extended four years by Ole Miss, taking him out of the running for the LSU coaching job.

In order to better understand what the Tigers would be getting in each, here's a dive into the track record of each coach. 

Tim Corbin (Vanderbilt)

Perhaps there's no greater legacy currently in college baseball than what Corbin has been able to build at Vanderbilt. Since taking over the Commodores in 2003, he's had one of the great runs in college baseball, leading Vanderbilt to two national championships and five College World Series appearances as the program hasn't missed the postseason since 2005. 

Over the years he's helped build Vanderbilt into a perrenial powerhouse, coaching 17 former players into first round picks, including pitcher David Price and shortstop Dansby Swanson who were both taken No. 1 overall. Following the 2021 season, current pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter are projected to be top five picks in July's draft.

Despite being 59 years old, if Scott Woodward and the Tigers administration were able to convince Corbin to take the LSU job, it'd be the grand slam, walkoff in the bottom of the ninth hire for the program. Even if it was a five or six year tenure, he's known to be one of the great recruiters in the game and would get the most out of this talented young core that exists at LSU. 

Tony Vitello (Tennessee)

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There's no doubt the intrigue of hiring a young guy like Vitello who could theoretically mold the program for the next 15-20 years. What he's done at Tennessee has been a true success, leading the Volunteers to Omaha in his fourth season and winning National Coach of the Year along the way. 

Vitello is viewed as one of the brightest up and coming coaches in the college ranks and his firey enthusiasm has rubbed off on the way his team has played this season. In two of his four seasons as the Volunteers head coach, he's led them to the postseason and after a 15-2 start in 2020, it very well could've been three years if COVID-19 hadn't cut the season short. 

There is some risk involved if Woodward and the administration throw everything to bring in Vitello. He's still only been a head coach for four years and there are more experienced candidates out there for the taking. But with LSU returning a relatively young but experienced core next season, Vitello could be the answer as he's beloved by his players and keeps the dugout loose with that enthusiasm he brings. 

Jay Johnson (Arizona)

Much like Vitello, Johnson is a relatively young head coach who doesn't possess the experience that Corbin has but he's had positive impacts at all of the of the programs he's been a part of. He turned the Nevada program around in two years and has done the same with Arizona over the last six years, leading them to a College World Series runner up in his first season as coach back in 2016.

He's back in Omaha in 2021, losing a walkoff heartbreaker to Corbin and Vanderbilt on Saturday but his team was one of the few to put a nice outing together against Rocker.  

Upon hearing of LSU's interest in Johnson, Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke viewed it as a compliment that other programs were interested in their coaches but was adament that the plan is to keep Johnson for the long term. 

“It was one of my priorities when I first got here to make sure that Jay was in agreement with us that we wanted to build something special,” Heeke said. “It was important to me at that time to build his package here at Arizona, so he wants to stay here for a long time. It’s a compliment when our coaches are on lists and are sought after. It means they’re some of the best in the country. We look forward to dealing with that at the end of the season.”