Todd Whitting, the associate head coach at TCU, was named the new Cougar head baseball coach on Friday. He replaces Rayner Noble, who was fired following a second consecutive losing season.
The two top candidates for the opening were Whitting and David Pierce of Rice, both of whom are UH graduates and former UH assistants, and both of whom received ringing endorsements from their head coaches. But after Whitting’s Horned Frogs were eliminated in the semi-finals of the College World Series, athletics director Mack Rhoades moved quickly.
For Whitting, returning to his alma mater as the head coach was a dream come true.
This is the opportunity for me to come back home. The reason I left the University of Houston seven years ago was to better prepare myself to be the head baseball coach at the University of Houston. Other than the birth of my son this is absolutely the biggest day of my life.
This is the fifth head coaching hire for Rhoades in a little over a year at Houston. Whitting is the third of those hires without previous Division 1 head coaching experience, but he is known in college baseball circles as a master recruiter, and has been successful at every stop. The Cougars had a .610 winning percentage under both Noble and Whitting, which dropped to .523 in Noble years without Whitting on staff. In 15 years as an assistant, Whitting's teams have made it to the NCAA post-season 13 times, including each of the past 12 seasons.
Even former Cougar Michael Bourn went on record as saying that in Whitting’s previous tenure as an assistant on Cullen Boulevard, he did a “helluva job”.
One of the big questions moving forward is how this will affect those Cougar baseball draftees who have eligibility remaining, such as pitchers Michael Goodnight and Jared Ray. Will the chance to play for Whitting be a motivating factor to come back to school, or will the uncertainty of playing for a new coach push them to the professional ranks?