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Bohls: Texas' David Pierce shakes up his coaching staff, faces a big 2023 baseball rebuild

Kirk Bohls
Austin American-Statesman
Texas head coach David Pierce made a tough decision after going 0-2 at the College World Series and let go of his long-time assistant coach Sean Allen, who has been working as UT's pitching coach. But Pierce also could lose valuable hitting and fielding coach Troy Tulowitzki to USC.
  • Texas baseball coach David Pierce gambles and dismisses long-time pitching coach Sean Allen.
  • The Longhorns have to do everything in their power to retain Troy Tulowitzki, a USC coach candidate.
  • I'd put Texas' chances of landing blue-chip quarterback Arch Manning at 70-30 ahead of Georgia.

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. Bold call. For all those sniping at Texas’ David Pierce for being the first team eliminated from the College World Series, stop it. Don’t be that entitled. Now don’t get me wrong. There is much work to be done, starting with better recruiting and the search for a quality pitching coach. Pierce made the difficult decision to fire longtime ally Sean Allen to shake up his staff and get a fresh change there, but it’d be devastating to also lose assistant Troy Tulowitzki if he gets the USC head coaching gig. Tulo, who’s been invaluable as a hitting instructor and defensive aide, has to be retained, damn the cost. Tulo told me Tuesday he will interview for the Trojans' job, which isn’t a very good job anymore with lagging facilities and no fan interest. USC has had only two winning seasons in the last 16 years and went 25-28 this season, including 0-6 against top 25 RPI opponents. It has won just one of its 12 CWS titles since 1978. USC baseball, which was No. 98 nationally in attendance and next to last in the Pac-12, averaged 643 fans a game. “I have made zero decisions,” said Tulo, who’s been one of the best things to ever happen to UT baseball. “I will be talking to them. I have not made any decision. I loved my time at Texas and living in Austin.” … Pierce definitely needs to shore up his in-state recruiting because he isn’t locking down Texas and is relying too heavily on out-of-staters, which is not a long-term recipe for success. Take the starting lineup with five regulars from out-of-state and the top three pitchers from California and Missouri. But record-wise, he’s fine.

Bohls: Final CWS loss to Aggies hurt, but shouldn't sour Texas' sweet season

2. Augie-meter. Sure, Pierce has gone two-and-‘que twice in his three CWS trips, but Augie Garrido didn’t win right off the bat. Discounting the pandemic-canceled season when Texas started 14-3, Pierce has a better record than Garrido after five full years. Augie missed the NCAA Tournament twice over that span, Pierce once. Augie went to Omaha once, Pierce three times. In Augie’s first Texas trip to the CWS, he went 0-2. David’s gone winless twice in Omaha but finished tied for third last season. Pierce has 205 wins (without 2020) to Garrido’s 170 although the Zen master won it all in Year Six and again in 2005. … And anyone who followed this team all year knows it was a flawed one. Spectacular offense, but too focused on home runs. Sterling defense, but it didn’t show up in season-ending loss to A&M. Pitching, very skimpy. It was a killer when Tanner Witt went down for the season in February, closer Aaron Nixon unraveled and Tristan Stevens struggled for much of the year. Ivan Melendez was clearly the MVP of the team, but Lucas Gordon and Murphy Stehly were right there as next co-MVPs. … I was taken to task for picking Oklahoma to win the CWS because I didn’t have enough faith in Texas. Then after the Longhorns were the first team eliminated in Omaha, I was criticized for not being harsh enough in my critiques. I will say Pierce should have pulled Gordon earlier in the 10-2 loss to A&M, but he was a strike away from ending the Aggies' rally several times, and the staff justifiably had more trust in him than its bullpen with good reason. Mississippi State, one year after dogpiling at Charles Schwab Field as national champion, finished dead last in the SEC and didn’t even make the 64-team NCAA field. Tennessee, the unquestioned No. 1 team, couldn’t get to Omaha out of a home super regional. It’s all about getting hot in June when OU is 11-2 in the postseason.

Quarterback Arch Manning, the No. 1 recruit for the class of 2023, reportedly is choosing between Alabama, Georgia and Texas. He recently completed his official visit to Texas, which came immediately after visits to the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.

3. Manning up. Arch Manning is very much in Texas’ sights as perhaps potentially the biggest signee since Vince Young and then Chris Simms. I’m putting it at 70-30 Texas over Georgia although some in his family prefer Georgia. I’m told if the Longhorns had finished even 8-4 or 7-5 in Steve Sarkisian’s first year, it’d be a slam dunk Manning comes here. Getting a commitment from his three-star tight end teammate Will Randle doesn’t hurt, but Manning’s his own man. Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett will be a counselor at this week’s Manning Passing Academy, so there’s that. Plus, Texas is fighting all the negativity surrounding the program from Manning suitors who say Sark might not even survive for a third season if the Horns falter again. Texas brass have informed the family Sark is not on shaky ground, for what it’s worth.

4. Tough re-do. Texas baseball doesn’t often rebuild. But that will definitely be the case in 2023 because Pierce stands to lose his entire infield save second baseman Mitchell Daly, who was pretty much the lone starter to struggle mightily with the bat this season, as well as postseason outfield starter Dylan Campbell. Melendez and Skyler Messinger were seniors, and shortstop Trey Faltine and catcher Silas Ardoin are likely to go pro. So might center fielder Douglas Hodo III, Texas’ MVP of the CWS who could well turn pro this summer as a potential top six round pick, and left fielder Eric Kennedy, who has already graduated. … Hats off to classy A&M coach Jim Schlossnagle for giving a shoutout to Austin Todd, Texas’ injury-plagued, sixth-year senior: “What he has done with his career, he’s just emblematic of everything that college baseball and college athletics and being a student-athlete should be about. Of course we have a lot of guys like that, too, but I'm a big fan of Austin's in the fact that he's back in that ball game, hitting in the middle of the lineup for his college team in the CWS. That is pretty awesome.”

5. Next star. Travis Vick, welcome to the big time. The Longhorns junior not only had the clinching putt on the final hole of the title match with Arizona State, he was one of just four of 15 amateurs in the field to make the cut at his first U.S. Open and finished 8-over par to rank as the low amateur. The Longhorns baseball team got crushed by A&M, but Vick bested the Aggies’ Sam Bennett by two strokes. Vick said playing in the NCAA was “way more pressure, even though there’s thousands of more fans here” at the U.S. Open. At the midway point of the tournament, Vick led the field in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and he followed up a disastrous quadruple-bogey 9 on No. 8 with consecutive birdies. “I think confidence-wise, I think finishing low am, it definitely helps,” Vick said. “It was nice being able to watch the world's best and see what they do well and kind of compare my game to theirs. I feel like my ball-striking is there. I think it's in a good spot. Just from a ball-striking perspective, there's not a lot to tweak.” Next up for Vick is the Arnold Palmer Cup in Switzerland.

Texas' Travis Vick hits a shot on the 11th hole during the second round of last week's U.S. Open in Brookline, Mass. Vick finished the tournament at 8-over par, which was good for low amateur honors.

6. Ten, anyone? I wrote Monday that the SEC is knocking around the idea of 10 conference games, which I’d give maybe a 2% chance of getting approval. The media, fans and television would love 10 SEC games. Nick Saban would love it because that means two more chances that SEC teams inferior to Alabama might get losses. … Also hearing through the grapevine that the Big Ten opposed a 12-team College Football Playoff because it could eat up a lot of the excess money it hopes to garner when it redoes its television package this year. Won’t be a surprise if the Big Ten signs up with as many as three television networks, Fox, ESPN or CBS and maybe even Amazon, which is becoming a huge player.

Bohls: OU baseball coach Skip Johnson wants the titles, not the headlines

More: Texas wins second straight Directors Cup as nation's top athletic program

7. Running buddies. Joe Castiglione and Chris Del Conte are as thick as thieves — no comments, Big 12, please — but that doesn’t stop the Oklahoma athletic director for sniping at his Texas counterpart. Noting the Horns won national titles in rowing and men’s indoor track, Castiglione couldn’t resist, “I was telling Chris, ‘I said, bro, you might have accomplished the first dual national championship in two sports where one, you sit on your ass and go backward (in rowing) and the other one you crouch in blocks and go forward. Rowing and track in the same year.” … Castiglione went on, “We don’t have the money machine of the Longhorns. But we won in softball and women’s gymnastics where the men were the runner-up. We were No. 1 in men’s golf, but lost in match play and we were runner-up in women’s tennis and lost to the Longhorns. It’s been a good year, and we hope to close it out with a bang here (in Omaha). We’ve beaten them a few times, too, but they have had a little bit of an upper hand, and we don’t like that. I told Chris he has to get a bigger cabinet for all the Directors’ Cup trophies he’s got.”

8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former A&M athletic director Bill Byrne.

9. At the box office: Have had no time to catch a movie, so I’ll ask what’s your least favorite movie of all time. Mine is a tie between the silly "Zoolander" and "Open Water." I found them equally unwatchable.

Crazy prediction: Texas will go to a bowl game this season.