The new University of Alabama baseball coach is moving from one side of the state to the other. He’s also moving from one side of the Alabama-Auburn rivalry to the other.
Auburn assistant Brad Bohannon was named the next University of Alabama baseball coach in a news release on Thursday morning. He has spent the last two years as an assistant coach working with Auburn’s hitters.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I cannot wait to get started,” Bohannon said in the news release. “My goal is to make The University of Alabama the best baseball experience in the country. We’re going to recruit at the highest level, coach and develop our student-athletes and create a positive team culture that ultimately will help us to be successful. Every aspect of our program will play an important part, and Alabama has incredible resources to help us reach our goals. I truly believe we can accomplish anything here.”
He will be formally introduced in a press conference on Monday. Bohannon and the Auburn Tigers are playing in the Tallahassee regional of the NCAA tournament this coming weekend.
Bohannon has spent the last 14 years as an assistant in the SEC. He worked at Kentucky from 2004-15 and at Auburn from 2016-17. He built his reputation as a recruiter at both programs. He will arrive in Tuscaloosa with knowledge of in-state programs and a national reputation.
“I studied our past rosters from the years when we have been most successful and there was a balance between Alabama kids, which we have to have, and players from a diverse background from the Southeast and the rest of the country,” UA director of athletics Greg Byrne told The Tuscaloosa News. “One thing that stood out about Brad in his 11 years in Kentucky and his short time in our own state was that he had signed players from 25 different states, as well as Canada.”
The hire comes just eight days after Byrne announced the dismissal of Greg Goff. It’s the first head coaching hire Byrne has made at UA.
Bohannon was named the assistant coach of the year in 2015 by the American Baseball Coaches Association and Baseball America. That was his final season in Lexington before he left for Auburn.
“I can’t think of a greater compliment to our baseball program and where it’s come in 20 months than for another SEC ball club to offer them a head coaching position,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “What a great appointment for him. He’ll do great.”
Bohannon worked under head coaches John Cohen and Gary Henderson in Kentucky, where the Wildcats went to four NCAA tournaments. He helped Cohen turn the program around more than a decade ago and has helped Thompson rebuild Auburn after Sunny Golloway’s departure.
His task at Alabama will be to resurrect a program that tumbled to 19-34-1 this year, including 5-24-1 to finish in last place in the SEC. Alabama has not been to the College World Series since 1999.
“Brad was destined to become a head coach,” Cohen said. “I’m really proud of him. Obviously I think Greg Byrne made a great choice. I think he will do well. He is one of the brightest — I’m not even going to say coaches — he’s one of the brightest people I know. He is an exceptional communicator. He’s extremely bright. He’s somebody who understands recruiting at an unusually high level. He’s one of those top five recruiters in baseball.”
During Bohannon’s tenure at Kentucky, 69 players or signees were chosen in the MLB draft. Every one of his recruiting classes since 2008 has ranked in the top 25 nationally. He was also the primary recruiter for A.J. Reed, the 2014 SEC Player of the Year.
Bohannon becomes the fourth SEC head coach with ties to Mississippi State’s John Cohen. Bohannon, Thompson and Kentucky’s Nick Mingione were all assistants when Cohen was head coach at Kentucky or Mississippi State. Cohen also hired LSU assistant Andy Cannizaro as the Bulldogs’ head coach after he became athletics director last year.
“He’s worked really long to get to this position,” said Mingione, who worked with Bohannon for two years at Kentucky. “I think all of us at some point in our careers want to be a head coach. After doing so well, just a phenomenal job that Brad has done recruiting, the job he has done here and Auburn, I’m just really happy for him. I spent two years with him and celebrated a championship with him here. I’m just really happy for him that he’s gotten this opportunity.”
His coaching career started as an assistant at Wake Forest during 2001 and 2002. The Demon Deacons made the NCAA tournament in both of his seasons as an assistant. Kentucky reached the NCAA tournament four times during his tenure there. Bohannon played college baseball at Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech before graduating from Berry College.
The first order of business in Tuscaloosa will be to stabilize the program. Bohannon will be the third head coach in as many seasons. From there he’ll be charged to recruit and rebuild.
“I think the wide recognition of the Alabama brand is part of our foundation here and gives us a chance to recruit nationally as well as within our state, and Brad had an excellent plan for that,” Byrne said.
TideSports’ Cecil Hurt contributed to this report.