South Carolina Baseball: Some significant candidates to be the Gamecock head coach

South Carolina baseball will have its fair share of quality candidates to interview for its head coaching vacany.
South Carolina baseball head coach candidate Chris Pollard
South Carolina baseball head coach candidate Chris Pollard / Eakin Howard/GettyImages
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South Carolina Baseball Head Coaching Candidates:
The Veterans Who Might Need a Change of Scenery

There are a few names who have popped up in speculation about the Gamecock job who have been around the game for a long time. These coaches have been very successful at their current job, but due to recent struggles and/or unrealistic fan pressure, they could be candidates to find a new home this offseason.

Kevin O'Sullivan, Florida Gators Head Coach

A surprise candidate for the Carolina job back in 2017, Florida Gators headman Kevin O'Sullivan parlayed legitimate mutual interest between himself and the Gamecocks into a nice pay raise and the leverage need to force a lot of upgrades in Gainesville. It took the 2017 National Championship and KOS flirting openly with USC to get Florida to invest more in baseball, but it finally happened, and Sully stayed put in Gainesville.

Since then, there have been several instances in which his name has been brought up as a candidate for other jobs, and Carolina has felt like one of the most realistic vacancies he would consider.

O'Sullivan has been the head coach at Florida since leaving his job as an assistant coach at Clemson ahead of the 2008 season. Though it is not out of the question, and the rumor mill is always turning around O'Sullivan, actually prying him away from the Gators won't be easy.

Dan McDonnell, Louisville Cardinals Head Coach

Once viewed as a young whiz kid in college baseball, Dan McDonnell became the head coach at Lousiville in his 30s and has been on the job for 18 seasons. Now in his mid-50s, McDonnell has seen his success at Louisville slip in recent years, but the financial support in facilities and NIL has been lacking. Some stadium upgrades are in process, but McDonnell hasn't been shy about flirting with the idea of leaving the Cardinals, nonetheless.

McDonnell has a Palmetto State connection, having played and served as an assistant coach at The Citadel. He also spent time in the SEC as an assistant at Ole Miss before taking the Louisville job.

Ray Tanner and McDonnell go way back, so it would be expected that the two chat about the Gamecock job. However, with how Louisville has struggled in recent years (missed the postseason in three of the last four years), it will be difficult to sell to the fanbase that hiring McDonnell to take over the South Carolina baseball program is the best option.

Chris Lemonis, Mississippi State Bulldogs Head Coach

Mississippi State won the National Championship just three years ago, but the fans in Starkville are very similar to the ones in Columbia: because things were terrible in 2022 and 2023, head coach Chris Lemonis nearly lost his job despite his previous success. He turned things around to have a pretty good 2024 campaign, but there are some around college baseball that think Lemonis could want out of StarkVegas.

Lemonis coached alongside Dan McDonnell at The Citadel when the two were both assistants, and he coached under McDonnell at Louisville before becoming the skipper for the Indiana Hoosiers. He was born in Mississippi but was raised in South Carolina, so he has life connections both at his current school at one that may give him a call in the coming days.

Lemonis is far from a lock to leave Mississippi State and even less of a guarantee to jump ship to come to Columbia, but he is sure to be part of conversations behind the scenes at minimum.

Brian O'Connor, Virginia Cavaliers Head Coach

A longshot for the South Carolina baseball job is Virginia coach Brian O'Connor. His name has been brought up with several job openings in recent years, but he has been in Charlottesville for over 20 seasons. Seeing him actually leave the Wahoos would be a big deal.

O'Connor won a National Championship in 2015 and has made five other College World Series appearances with the Cavaliers. O'Connor has won in a variety of ways, making it to Omaha with teams that didn't host a Regional but got hot in the postseason and making it to Omaha with conference championship-winning clubs. In his 21 years, Virginia has not had a losing season and only has missed the postseason twice.

Things would have to pick up around O'Connor's name for anyone to consider him a realistic candidate to take over in Columbia. However, he originally is from Omaha, and in the Gamecocks' quest to return there, Ray Tanner checking in with O'Connor would be a smart move. Landing him would be difficult, but it's worth a call to find out if he will listen.