June 16, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN - Former players knew it. Fans knew it. Athletics director Jay Jacobs knew it. The time had come.
Auburn baseball, a national power for the better part of 15 seasons under Hal Baird, had been too far down for too long. Eight of the past 10 seasons had ended with the Tigers watching NCAA regionals on television. Jacobs decided in May that enough was enough and fired head coach John Pawlowski after five seasons.
He enlisted Joe Beckwith, who helped pitch Auburn to the 1976 College World Series on his way to the major leagues, and former All-American and current Atlanta Braves pitching star Tim Hudson to help. Along with Jacobs and baseball administrator David Mines, they studied candidates and interviewed candidates. When their work was done, Jacobs made the call and Sunny Golloway left Oklahoma for Auburn.
Beckwith was there, beaming, when Golloway was introduced on Friday.
"With the list we had, the people we interviewed, they were all impressive," Beckwith said. "When we got word Sunny was interested, it was eye-opening. When he came and we interviewed him, we knew he was the man."
In nine seasons, Golloway took Oklahoma to eight regionals, four super regionals and one College World Series. He took Oral Roberts to five consecutive NCAA regionals. Add it up, and Golloway has taken teams to regionals in 14 of his last 15 seasons as a head coach.
But Beckwith said it was more than the record that got the attention of the interviewers.
"It was the quality about him, his professionalism, his truthfulness," Beckwith said. "We asked some hard questions, and he was upfront and honest. It was the direction he wants to go, his history. The biggest thing is development of players. He has a good team coming back, and I think he's going to take this team to another level."
Golloway said Friday he wasn't ready to name any assistant coaches, but pitching coach Jack Giese and coordinator of baseball operations Ryan Gaines joined him on the trip to Auburn. Golloway said it "looks good" for both to join him at Auburn.
"Jack has a great reputation for pitching," Beckwith said. "He's worked with CC Sabathia and a couple of other big leaguers. He's going to elevate the current pitching staff and make them a lot better."