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:
Young Guns

Successful coaches come in all shapes and sizes. While many look to the older coaches in the game when they consider the top names in the sport, there are a number of young stars in coaching, as well, including several who are on the Gamecocks' radar.

Cliff Godwin, East Carolina Pirates Head Coach

Probably the favorite candidate among the Gamecock fanbase is current East Carolina Pirates skipper Cliff Godwin. Godwin is younger than some of the veteran coaches whose names have flown about since Mark Kingston's dismissal, but he has been around the game for a while.

Godwin is a fiery, emotional leader whose players love him, and he has won consistently in Greenville. Before becoming a head coach, he was a well-respected assistant at major programs like Ole Miss, Notre Dame, LSU, and Vanderbilt.

ECU has made 9 of the last 10 NCAA Tournaments and made 4 Super Regionals in Godwin's 10 seasons. He has led his alma mater well, but limitations in Greenville with NIL and roster consistency due to the transfer portal could make a move intriguing.

Godwin has been viewed by some as the most natural successor to Mike Bianco at Ole Miss if the National Championship-winning coach elects to retire or is fired. Bianco and Ole Miss are still going to be together at least one more season. Could Godwin wait another year at ECU in hopes of returning to Oxford for the Ole Miss job? Or would he consider an equally high-profile job with the Gamecocks worth taking this offseason? Most around Greenville think he's staying.

South Carolina will be interested, and he might be the first choice. Time will tell how interested Cliff Godwin is.

Landon Powell, North Greenville Crusaders Head Coach

Landon Powell is one of the greatest players ever to wear the interlocking SC on his hat. The big catcher was an All-American in Columbia and had a brief career in Major League Baseball.

Since then, he has gotten into coaching, and he is one of the best Division-II leaders in the country, having led the North Greenville Crusaders to a National Championship just a couple of seasons ago. NGU has remained one of the top teams in the sport at that level under Powell's leadership. He loves being in the Upstate of South Carolina with North Greenville but has said before that he would leave if his alma mater came calling.

Powell has been mentioned a lot by fans, but it seems unlikely that he would be high up on the list of candidates at this point due to his lack of big-time experience. If the situation was right, though, there is a realistic world in which a new head coach in garnet and black calls Powell and inquires about his interest in another role within the South Carolina baseball program (hitting coach, perhaps?), but that speculation can come much later.

Skylar Meade, Troy Trojans Head Coach

Skyler Meade was one of the top pitching coaches in the country before becoming the head coach at Troy. His most recent assistant job, as most South Carolina baseball fans will remember, was with the Gamecocks as he worked for four seasons under Mark Kingston from 2018-2021.

Still under the age of 40, Meade is believed to be a rising star in the coaching world, but he is still a bit unproven. He took the Troy Trojans to the NCAA Tournament in 2023 but has only led a program (a Sun Belt program, at that) for three seasons.

In a bit of irony, Meade pitched for the Louisville Cardinals in 2007, Dan McDonnell's first year as the head coach. The former player-coach duo could be competing against each other for the South Carolina baseball job, but it seems unlikely that either would be the top choice.

Justin Haire, Campbell Fighting Camels Head Coach

A name that has been tossed out as a "safe option" for the Gamecocks if their first handful of options don't pan out, Justin Haire is another young coach who is developing a solid reputation around college baseball.

Outside of a slightly subpar 2024 campaign, Haire has led the Campbell Fighting Camels to become the best team in the Big South Conference since 2018. The Camels won every regular season conference title from 2018-2023 (other than 2020, which was shortened due to Covid-19), and their offense has been among the country's best.

Hiring a new leader whose only head coaching experience is at Campbell would not make very many South Carolina baseball fans happy, but if things go South in the coaching search, Haire could be a name that surfaces as a real candidate.