It doesn’t get much more Texan than David Pierce.
The Houston native started his coaching career in his hometown when he was 25, when Pierce served as the running backs coach and the baseball coach (and a history teacher) at St. Pius X. He helped Rice win an NCAA baseball national championship in 2003 as an assistant, and later guided Sam Houston State to the NCAA playoffs as a head coach.
Now he’ll be leading the state’s most historic college baseball program and following two of the winningest coaches in NCAA history.
Pierce was introduced Thursday as only the sixth Texas baseball coach since 1911. He may not have been athletic director Mike Perrin’s first choice, but as Pierce said, “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”
Said Pierce: “I hope you can handle a slow-talking Texan, because that’s what you got.” He then flashed the Hook ‘em hand signal.
“Well, it’s been well documented, my roots and how special it means for my family and I to come back home,” Pierce said during a packed press conference at Royal-Memorial Stadium. “Not only to come back home to Texas, but to come back to the University of Texas, the greatest university in the country. And I truly believe that.”
Perrin, who needed 31 days to complete his first UT coaching search, would not reveal the details of Pierce’s contract. Former coach Augie Garrido, who was reassigned on May 28, had a multi-year contract worth more than $1 million annually. Pierce’s contract must be approved by the UT System Board of Regents.
Perrin said he spent weeks discussing the position with all sorts of interested parties, including former lettermen and opposing athletic directors. Perrin admitted he first interviewed Pierce on June 18. At other points over the past month, Perrin spoke with coaches from Vanderbilt, UCLA, Oregon State, Houston, LSU and Dallas Baptist, and also kicked the tires on others.
Perrin said he would not have offered anyone the job until he had secured UT President Gregory L. Fenves’ approval. Fenves had spent time in Asia during the process, a trip that brought the baseball search to a near-standstill.
“I made one job offer to one person, and that was David Pierce,” Perrin said. “He’s the only person I offered the job to. There were other people I talked to, some of whom I would have considered had they been available. I found it ironic and amusing there were people who got brand new contracts, extensions and raises by people who not only did I not even talk to, I never mentioned their names.”
Pierce touched all the bases during his introduction. He has yet to formalize a coaching staff, but said he wanted to meet the current team and begin recruiting immediately.
While Pierce has never won an NCAA regional tournament as a head coach, he’s won four conference titles over the last five years at Sam Houston State and Tulane. So he’s capable of quick turnarounds. His five-year record as a head coach is 197-109 (.644).
Pierce thanked former UT coaches Cliff Gustafson and Garrido and his old boss at Rice, Wayne Graham, himself a Texas ex. The Longhorns will open the 2016-17 season by hosting the Owls at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
“The thing I want you to understand is I coach baseball, but I really coach people,” Pierce said. “Baseball is my platform. It’s my opportunity to see young men grow as the day they walk in and become first-rounders in all aspects of life.
“It’s not about baseball first-rounders. It’s about becoming great citizens, becoming great young men in all aspects of life.”
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.