AUSTIN — In the press conference introducing new Longhorn head baseball coach David Pierce, a variety of emotions filled the room.
Athletic director Mike Perrin beamed with pride about the third revenue sport hire in as many years. Pierce was proud and emotional when talking about the Texas connections his family has and how happy he is to be back in the Lone Star state. Both men did share something in common; the desire to get to work on exceeding the lofty expectations that Texas baseball has.
“It’s been well-documented with my roots how special it means to my family and I to come back home and not only come back to Texas, but come to the University of Texas, the greatest university in the country,” Pierce said. “I’ve coached in the state. I’ve recruited this state very hard. I’ve got friends in this state. I was a director in the high school association. That is another part of my backbone that truly means a lot to me.”
Perrin also made note of how respected Pierce is among the baseball community in Texas.
“He knows this state,” Perrin said. “The baseball hotbeds, backwards and forwards – the Gulf Coast, the Metroplex, all the club teams around the state. He’s tireless on recruiting.”
Pierce was named the thirteenth head baseball coach in the program’s history and only the fifth head coach since 1911, excluding Blair Cherry’s wartime seasons from 1943-45. Pierce was hired away from Tulane, where he reached the postseason in both seasons as the Green Wave’s skipper. He previously served as a head coach at Sam Houston State, and as an assistant at both the University of Houston and Rice University, winning a national championship in 2003 with the Owls.
Although he took multiple stops to get to Austin, Pierce has already embraced the large responsibility the job holds.
“I’ve been waiting to come back home and do that right there,” Pierce said as he gave a “Hook ‘Em Horns” signal with both hands. “It’s truly an awesome feeling to be back home.”
Although the press conference was a day spent mostly looking toward the future of the program, Pierce took the time to acknowledge two men who had been in his position.
“I want to recognize two great men that helped mold and build this university’s baseball program in coach Gustafson and coach Garrido,” Pierce said. “The past, I think its 49 years, the wonderful job that they’ve done of doing the same thing that I hope to do. I’m privileged and honored that I have the right to follow them and hopefully lead this program to great things.”
Pierce has coached at the college level since 2001. As a collegiate coach, his teams have never failed to make the postseason. He led Sam Houston State to three straight Southland Conference regular season titles, and led Tulane to an American Athletic Conference regular season championship in the most recent season.
The Texas head coaching position remained open for almost a month before Pierce was named to the job. There were multiple reports linking a variety of candidates to the Texas job, including Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, Dallas Baptist head coach Dan Heefner, TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle and Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. When asked about other candidates, Perrin found those reports interesting.
“I found it ironic and amusing that there were people who got brand new contracts, extensions and raises not only that I did not talk to, but I didn’t utter their name,” Perrin said. “I made one job offer to one person, and that was David Pierce.”
Even Pierce himself mentioned that he was not bothered by those reports.
“Whether I was or wasn’t [the first choice] doesn’t matter to me,” Pierce said. “What my concern is it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”
With Pierce’s Texas connections, recruiting was brought up multiple times by Pierce at the press conference. Pierce said that he understood what he has at his disposal at Texas, and that he plans to make use of it.
“Our recruiting will utilize every resource we have,” Pierce said.
“From our major league scouts, to our high school coaches to our select and club teams, we’ll start from the inside and we’ll work out through the state and work out from there nationally when we need to. We have plenty of resources to make sure we can handle that and take care of that.”
Pierce mentioned that he knows on the field results are extremely important, but he also knows and realizes how important the development of individuals are.
“I coach baseball, but I really coach people,” Pierce said. “Baseball is my platform. It is my opportunity to see young men grow from the day they walk in and become first-rounders in all aspects of life.”
After this hire, the excitement in the athletic department was evident in the words of Perrin. He believes that the future is bright in Austin with the coaches he has in the revenue sports.
“It’s my opinion that our big three men’s sports are in great hands,” Perrin said. “I’m ready to roll.”