Arizona Baseball

Arizona Wildcats AD Greg Byrne commendable track record of hires so far



Greg Byrne, left, with former Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez at yesterday's retirement press conference for Lopez (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Greg Byrne, left, with former Arizona baseball coach Andy Lopez at yesterday’s retirement press conference for Lopez (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

Arizona Wildcats athletics director Greg Byrne is only a seven-year “veteran” with his title at Mississippi State and Arizona, but he has already made 11 head coaching hires at both schools.

Only one of the 11, former Arizona Wildcats swimming and diving coach Eric Hansen, is no longer coaching after he resigned in 2014 following a leave of absence in October 2013.

With the retirement yesterday of 14-year Arizona Wildcats baseball coach Andy Lopez, Byrne will make his ninth hire in Tucson after becoming Arizona’s athletic director on May 3, 2010.

His most notable hire at Arizona is football coach Rich Rodriguez, who is a respectable 26-14 in four years with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl last season.

Byrne, 43, hired three coaches in his two years as Mississippi State’s athletic director in 2008 through 2010. His track record with those hires is commendable bringing in the likes of Dan Mullen for football, John Cohen for baseball and Ginger Brown-Lemm for women’s golf.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]

Site founder and award-winning sports journalist Javier Morales has published his first e-book, “The Highest Form of Living”, a fiction piece about a young man who overcomes a troubled upbringing without his lost father and wayward mother through basketball and hope. His hope is realized through the sport he loves. Basketball enables him to get past his fears. His experience on the court indirectly brings him closer to his parents in a unique, heartfelt way. Please order it at Amazon (for only $4.99) by clicking on the photo:




[table “” not found /]

[table “” not found /]

[ezcol_1half id=”” class=”” style=””]

All three remain with Mississippi State and they have become very accomplished since Byrne hired them. Mullen coached Mississippi State to a 10-3 record in 2014 with a berth in the Orange Bowl. Cohen coached the Bulldogs to the College World Series two years ago. Brown-Lemm led Mississippi State to the NCAA championships in 2013 and 2014.

Some of the themes of Byrne’s hires to keep in mind as he searches for Lopez’s replacement:

— The only coach older than 50 whom Byrne has hired is Arizona swimming and diving coach Rick LeMont, the former Arizona and Olympic swimmer who was 57 when he took over for Hansen on Feb. 4, 2014. That was a natural hire for Byrne because of LeMont’s 24 years previously as an assistant coach with the program.


[ezcol_1half_end id=”” class=”” style=””]


— Five of Byrne’s 11 hires at Mississippi State and Arizona were in their 30’s at the time he signed them. One of them, new Arizona gymnastics coach Tabitha Yim, is 29. The four others, including Rodriguez, were in their 40’s.

— The average age of Byrne’s hires is 35.7 years old.

— Six of the 11 hires did not have head coaching experience when Byrne brought them in, including Mullen at Mississippi State and Arizona women’s golf coach Laura Ianello, who has coached the Wildcats to three NCAA championship events including this year.

— Byrne is not hesitant to hire an alum to be a head coach. He hired Cohen, a former Mississippi State player, to lead the Bulldogs’ baseball program. Ianello and DeMont are former Wildcat athletes. Hansen earned his master’s degree at Arizona and served under Frank Busch before becoming Wisconsin’s head coach prior to his time as the Wildcats’ head coach.

Much will be reported on Arizona’s coaching search to replacing Lopez in the coming days. Given Byrne’s hiring background, the coach will likely be highly energetic in his 30’s or 40’s with a solid college coaching base. The coach will probably have head coaching experience (Cohen coached at SEC rival Kentucky before his hire) although hiring an assistant coach with Arizona ties is not out of the question.

With that in mind, keep a close eye on Oregon assistant and recruiting extraordinaire Mark Wasikowski, who was on Lopez’s staff for 10 years at Arizona.

Only 43, Wasikowski was significant in attracting the talent that resulted in the 2012 NCAA title for the Wildcats. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He has also written articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

To Top