The search for the South Carolina baseball team’s new pitching coach isn’t finished, but it appears to involve a pair of names familiar to USC fans.
Sources say former USC pitching coach Jerry Meyers, Old Dominion’s head coach the past six seasons, and former USC pitching great Kip Bouknight are in the mix to replace Mark Calvi, who took the South Alabama head-coach-in-waiting job a week ago.
Bouknight, the Golden Spikes winner as the nation’s top collegiate player in 2000, confirmed he had an interview with USC coach Ray Tanner on Wednesday.
“I would say I’ve still got a chance,” Bouknight said. “Coach Tanner has not made a decision yet, and I’m very honored to be in this situation.”
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Tanner had hoped to finish the search by the end of this week, but those plans were dashed when leading candidate Roger Williams, the Louisville pitching coach, decided to remain with the Cardinals after spending a pair of days interviewing in Columbia. Williams, one of the nation’s top pitching coaches after stints at East Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Louisville, was believed to be the top choice due in part to his ties to USC associate head coach Chad Holbrook.
Another potential candidate and former colleague of Holbrook’s, UNC pitching coach Scott Forbes, also decided to remain with his current school. Forbes was also considered a strong candidate for the Winthrop head coaching job.
Meyers, 45, who served under Tanner from 1997 to 2004 and coached Bouknight, has compiled a 167-158 record at Old Dominion with two winning seasons and no NCAA tournament appearances. Meyers guided the USC pitching staffs that played key roles in six NCAA appearances, including three trips to the College World Series from 2002-04. He could not be reached for comment.
Brett Jodie, a Lexington native who pitched for the Gamecocks from 1996-98, also is receiving consideration, according to a source. Jodie, 33, who made it to the major leagues with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres in 2001, is the pitching coach for the Somerset (N.J.) Patriots in the independent Atlantic League under manager Sparky Lyle. He also serves as the team’s director of player personnel.
Bouknight, 31, has no college coaching experience, but he pitched professionally for nine seasons, reaching Triple-A with four organizations, after he left USC as the school’s all-time leader in wins (45), innings (482) and strikeouts (457). Bouknight, a former Brookland-Cayce High standout, works for Federated Insurance and coaches summer travel baseball with former USC standout Tripp Cromer.
One source told The State that Bouknight could come on board as the volunteer assistant coach, taking on the pitching coach duties. That would allow current volunteer assistant coach Sammy Esposito to slide over to the No. 2 full-time position vacated by Calvi. Bouknight declined to confirm specifics of his discussions with Tanner
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” Bouknight said. “There’s nothing I love more than South Carolina baseball. I’m proud to be a Gamecock, and I always have been.”
In related developments, Holbrook’s name no longer is in the mix at Winthrop, which continues to search for Joe Hudak’s replacement. Holbrook could be in line for a raise and extension, along with Tanner, after the pair led the Gamecocks to the program’s first national championship. Contract discussions with the administration are ongoing.