What Nolan Cain’s Departure Means for LSU Baseball

Tigers walking a fine line by waiting to hire new coach with recruiting decisions right around the corner
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With LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri electing to retire after season's end, there was always an expectation that the assistant coaching staff wouldn't be too far behind. 

Hitting coach Eddie Smith received his first opportunity to be a head coach at Utah Valley University and now recruiting coordinator and Mainieri's right hand man, Nolan Cain, is off to Texas A&M. Cain will take over recruiting duties for the Aggies under new head coach Jim Schlossnagle and reportedly be out of Baton Rouge by the end of the weekend. 

In four seasons as a player for the purple and gold from 2006-09, Cain made 73 relief appearances out of the bullpen, winning a national championship during that 2009 season under Mainieri. He returned to the program in 2014 as a baseball operations coach in 2014 but since the 2017 season he's helped the Tigers reel in a number of top five recruiting classes, including the No. 1 class in 2018 and No. 2 class this past season, one that included Dylan Crews and Tre Morgan.

With Mainieri's neck issues over the past three seasons, Cain has taken on even more responsibilities and the hope was to possibly retain him with the next coach the purple and gold brought in. Cain's departure will no doubt have an affect on recruiting with the 2021 MLB Draft on July 11. 

LSU will likely want to have a coach in place and a support staff filled by that time to start getting on the phone with the 2021 class and sign the players to the program. The Tigers will also likely be dipping into the transfer portal so the sooner they can get a coaching staff in place the better. 

With high level recruits like catcher Ian Moller and pitchers Brock Selvidge and Ben Kudrna all out of state prospects, the cache of the LSU name is not all they committed to but rather to be coached by Mainieri and his assistant staff as well. It will likely be easier for the Tigers to retain those in state prospects but eight of the 14 committed players are out of state prospects.

However, there is a double edged sword to hiring a coach right away as the Tigers could wait to see how the College World Series shakes out and go after some of the top names on the market. LSU had interest in Ole Miss' Mike Bianco and East Carolina's Cliff Godwin, who both saw their season come to end in the super regionals. 

If LSU really wanted one of them as the next coach, it's a move that would've been made by now, hinting that Scott Woodward and the administration have their eye on one or two candidates in Omaha. LSU has the core pieces in place for a potential College World Series roster but there's no denying some of the improvements that need to be made with the pitching staff and position players as well.

The loss of Cain to an SEC West rival no doubt stings and has a potential trickle down effect on the recruiting class this year and moving forward. LSU will have a thin line to walk between now and next month's draft, which is the prime window for recruits to make their decision on signing professionally or coming to school.