Tulane announced Monday that it had fired coach Travis Jewett, ending a six-season tenure at New Orleans.
Under Jewett, the Green Wave went 160-138-1 overall and 61-56 in American Athletic Conference play, but crucially, made no playoff appearances.
In each of the past four seasons, Tulane has sometimes looked like it was about to take a leap, but was never able to make it happen. He finished third in the conference in 2019, second in 2021 and was 15-2 at the time the 2020 season was canceled, but neither of those seasons ended in the green wave making the championship game. of the conference tournament or finishing near the at – big bubble.
Likewise, this season’s team won impressive series against Louisiana Tech and Mississippi State in non-conference games and got off to an 8-4 start in AAC competition, but has since faded and entered the last regular season weekend once again face reality. to have to win the conference tournament to enter a regional.
It was always going to be tough for Jewett to get more time after going empty in the playoffs over six years (five playoffs if you take out 2020), but it’s also true that he was in a tough spot when you compare him. to his predecessor. David Pierce brings the Green Wave to a region in each of his two seasons at the helm and to Tulane’s storied history in general, which includes College World Series appearances in 2001 and 2005.
The world of college baseball today is too different for Tulane to do some of the things it did more than 15 years ago, including spending much of the 2005 regular season at No. 1 in the nation. . To expect a new coach to make Green Wave a national title contender would be unfair and unrealistic.
But the program still has enough going for it that it’s reasonable that fans have been concerned about the wave’s inability to be in the mix to make the playoffs when all is said and done. Changing that will be the next maintainer’s top priority.
Previous head coach
Travis Jewett: 160-138-1, six seasons
Tulane’s true baseball heyday may not be back, but it’s fair to expect the green wave has made it to regionals more than twice in the past 14 years. Tulane’s location in New Orleans gives the program ample access to talent, whether locally or in Texas, and Greer Field at Turchin Stadium is a solid facility that draws large crowds when the team is good. Tulane is a top private school in a big city, a formula that has worked well for TCU and Vanderbilt. It can go either way, however, as Tulane is not cheap and has a high level of academics. The positives certainly seem to outweigh the negatives with this program, and the administration is no doubt hoping to see that expressed in the win column.
How will the conference realignment affect Tulane?
A wildcard for Tulane’s success going forward is the quicksand of conference realignment. Tulane remains American-style, but a lot of things around it are changing. On paper, the next iteration of the AAC still looks like a multi-candidate league with East Carolina remaining, Florida Atlantic joining as a regional regular, and Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio as programs. on the rise. With Houston and Central Florida, two of the league’s highest-capped programs, heading to the Big 12 with Cincinnati, however, there’s no guarantee it’ll end up being as good as the conference’s previous iteration. . Then again, is it better for Tulane if he ends up a big fish in a slightly diminished conference? Time will tell us. The conference itself may soon be faced with difficult questions. As the NCAA changes its basic structure and relaxes its rules, baseball may soon be able to offer more than 11.7 scholarships and two full-time assistant coaches. How would AAC and Tulane react in such an environment?
Is Tulane returning to the family?
The last time Tulane had an opening was with a high-profile assistant coach with no previous connection to the program in Jewett, who notably had stints at Arizona State and Vanderbilt before landing at Nova Scotia. Orleans. There will certainly be other high-profile assistants in that mold interested this time around, but will attention turn to someone from the Tulane family instead? During his career as coach of Tulane from 1994 to 2014, Rick Jones built quite an impressive coaching tree, and there’s plenty of fruit on that tree for Tulane to choose from.
The next coach will have quite a few exciting young talents on his inaugural roster, provided those players choose to stay at Tulane rather than enter the transfer portal. Sophomore receiver Bennett Lee had a down year in 2022, but in 2021 he was the AAC newcomer of the year after hitting .440. Freshman outfielders Jackson Linn and Teo Banks represented two of the most prominent rookies of the Jewett era, and while only Linn had a breakout season as a rookie, both are brimming with ability. Freshman shortstop Gavin Schultz worked his way into more playing time as the season progressed. On the mound, right-handed freshman Grant Siegel has arguably been the most effective green wave pitcher this season and fellow right-handed freshman Michael Massey has been in the weekend rotation most of the season. . Assuming some depth develops around this star power, the next coach will have the core in place for his team to make a playoff effort in 2023.
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Tulane has a proud baseball history and although the Green Wave has won at least 30 games in each of the past three full seasons, no NCAA Tournament appearance has reached that level. Now athletic director Troy Dannen will be looking for the coach who can push back the green wave at the top of the AAC.
The search should start with Mississippi State Assistant Coach Jake Gautreau, 42 years old. He played at Tulane, helping the Green Wave in the 2001 College World Series and was drafted in the first round that year. After his playing career ended, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach, where he joined the program’s final Top 25 recruiting class (age 23, 2013). He spent five seasons on the staff and served as interim head coach during the 2014 season when Rick Jones was sidelined by an illness which ultimately led to his retirement. Gautreau is in his fifth year at Mississippi State, where he proved himself as a scout and won the 2021 national championship. In 2020, he tied for third in a Baseball America survey of coaches. -heads asking which current assistant coach would make the best head coach. While Gautreau ticks just about every box for Tulane, he is well paid as an assistant coach at Mississippi State and could find himself in the running for bigger jobs than Tulane sooner rather than later. Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee have all hired SEC assistant coaches to lead their programs for the past six years, and Gautreau is the best-positioned SEC assistant coach to make that leap now. Is the call of his alma mater strong enough to bring him back to New Orleans? All research may depend on this question.
Gautreau isn’t the only former Tulane player who will be in the running for the job. Matt Riser, Southeast Louisiana Coach, 37, made Southeastern one of the top programs in the Southland Conference during his nine seasons as head coach. He led Southeastern to the NCAA Tournament three times and won at least 30 games each full season. He reportedly interviewed for the job in 2014 and 2016. Expect him to be in the mix again and, with a few more years, it might be his time.
Texas assistant coach Sean Allen also has strong ties to Tulane. He was assistant coach to David Pierce for a decade, including the two seasons Pierce spent as head coach of the Green Wave. Allen, 42, has worked as both a batting and pitching coach, in addition to being the Longhorns’ recruiting coordinator. His experience in a variety of roles should help him make the leap to head coaching and he’s been attracting some serious looks for top positions in recent years. His hands-on experience at Tulane is a plus, as he knows what it takes to win in school.
Tulane pitching coach Daniel Latham is another Green Wave alumnus to watch. He was Tulane’s closest 2005 CWS team and is a member of the school’s Athletics Hall of Fame. His work as a pitching coach at both Southeast Louisiana under Riser and Tulane under Jewett has been solid. It would be a bit unusual to hire a coach who is already on staff after sacking the head coach, but far from unprecedented.
If Tulane moves out of the family, like six years ago, keep an eye out for McNeese State Head Coach Justin Hill, 42 years old. He played at LSU and coached statewide. He’s taken McNeese to the last two NCAA tournaments and this year the Cowboys are the top seed in the Southland Conference tournament. In nine years as head coach, Hill built McNeese into one of Southland’s top programs.