NORMAN — No matter what, Oklahoma did something to boost its baseball attendance Thursday. A few minutes after Pete Hughes was introduced as the Sooners’ next baseball coach, he pointed to his wife, Debby, and five children.
“We’ve got six more right here,” he said. “We’ll start there.”
Hughes’ hiring ended a two-week search to replace Sunny Golloway, who left for Auburn June 14 after eight full seasons in OU’s dugout.
OU athletic director Joe Castiglione never said exactly what he was looking for in Golloway’s replacement. What he found might not have been what everybody expected.
Instead of hiring the hot young coach with a proven track record with ties to the area or a coach with roots in the program, Castiglione chose someone with a proven track record of building programs outside of typical baseball hotbeds and one who speaks with a thick New England accent.
“His work ethic is unquestionable. Many of the people that we talked to throughout baseball always listed that among his greatest characteristics,” Castiglione said. “Also … a tireless recruiter, a great motivator, a charismatic leader, a superb teacher of the game of baseball, and one that invests himself in the lives of his family. First, his own family, as well as his extended family, those players that he coaches.”
Hughes comes to OU after guiding Virginia Tech for seven seasons. The Hokies went 222-174 during that run. It was a case of program building. Virginia Tech hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in a decade until Hughes guided the Hokies to a 40-win season and their first ACC winning record in 2010.
This past season Virginia Tech went 40-22, reached the championship game of the ACC tournament and hosted an NCAA regional for the first time.
The team that ended Virginia Tech’s season was the Sooners. Having a knowledge of OU’s roster helped raise Hughes’ interest in the job.