South Carolina Baseball: Reports say surprise candidate with National Championship pedigree is next Gamecock coach

Per reports, South Carolina baseball is set to hire Paul Mainieri as the program's next baseball coach.
Potential new South Carolina baseball coach Paul Mainieri
Potential new South Carolina baseball coach Paul Mainieri / Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina baseball fans have been following along with athletic director Ray Tanner as the former Gamecock coach-turned-AD has been interviewing candidates over the last week.

However, of all the candidates whose names have surfaced (Cliff Godwin, Tom Walter, Monte Lee, Landon Powell, Chris Pollard, etc.), no one seemed to emerge as the favorite to win the job. Fan speculation was strong and the rumor mill turned wildly, but all the conversation around the job came to a virtual stop on Monday when a report from Baseball America's Teddy Cahill dropped.

According to Cahill and then confirmed by reports from many other outlets, the next South Carolina baseball head coach will be Paul Mainieri. Mainieri, who spent 39 years coaching at Saint Thomas, Air Force, Notre Dame, and LSU, is now 66 years old and hasn't coached since 2021. Mainieri is one of the winningest coaches in recent memory in the sport, having won over 1500 games and a National Championship.

During his most recent coaching stint at LSU, Mainieri led the Bayou Bengals to four SEC Championships, six SEC Tournament Championships, a National Championship, five College World Series appearances, and nine berths in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament.

If Mainieri, indeed, is the hire for the South Carolina baseball program, the expectations will be mixed.

On one hand, he is a legend of the sport who showed himself to be a really good coach at Notre Dame and an elite one during his prime with LSU. Some Gamecock fans already have tried comparing Mainieri to Steve Spurrier (a good coach at Duke and elite coach at Florida) as both legends were nearing the end of their careers when the Gamecocks came knocking.

On the other hand, Mainieri is 66 and hasn't coached since 2021. He hasn't dealt with the modern world of NIL or the transfer portal. In the hypothetical comparison to Spurrier, Mainieri is six years older than the Head Ball Coach when he took the USC job, and coaching college sports is more difficult and requires more effort than ever before.

The University of South Carolina has revealed that they will have Board of Trustees meetings on Tuesday in relation to athletics contract(s), so confirmation of the reports should come soon.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Long-time Gamecock commit backs off of USC pledge. South Carolina Baseball: Long-time Gamecock commit backs off of USC pledge. dark