ORU's Rob Walton named OSU pitching coach
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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How much was Rob Walton wanted on Oklahoma State's baseball coaching staff?
New Cowboys coach Josh Holliday and athletic director Mike Holder made a Sunday afternoon trip to visit the Oral Roberts coach.
Less than 24 hours later, Walton was announced as the Cowboys' pitching coach. Walton had spent the last 14 years on ORU's staff, including the past nine as head coach.
"My wife and I both went to school (at OSU), and Mike Holder really wants to make a commitment to baseball," said Walton, who played for the Cowboys between 1983-86. "I thought it would be a neat situation to coach at your alma mater and try to see what we can do with that program. I think Josh Holliday will do a great job. ... He'll be a good guy to work for.
"I have a lot invested (at OSU)."
Walton becomes the second consecutive ORU head coach to take an assistant coaching job at an in-state school. Sunny Golloway departed the Golden Eagles in 2003 to join the Oklahoma staff. He was elevated to the Sooners' head coach in 2005.
Holliday was introduced as OSU's coach on Friday. He joined Walton as a finalist for the position left vacant following the May 29 firing of nine-year Cowboys coach Frank Anderson.
"We're really excited to bring someone of Rob's caliber to the program," Holliday said in a statement. "He possesses the talents and character traits that identify our mission to develop and groom our players in an environment where teaching, discipline, passion, the ability to develop a person in all phases of their life, on the field and off, are the focus, as is the commitment to building a championship team.
"When this opportunity to bring Rob into our program presented itself, and after sitting and talking with him and his family and sensing the true passion for Oklahoma State, his unique and well-known talents in the game and his desire to team up and pour himself into the kids and help us become great, it was just a tremendous fit."
Walton said leaving his ORU program was "heart-wrenching."
"It was absolutely brutal and the hardest part of the whole thing," Walton said. "We always talk about family and all those things ... this is extremely difficult, and I don't know if you ever get over it.
"I love my players, and sometimes you have to make those brutal decisions and do what's best for your family. If I were a guy that jumped from job to job, it would be different, but I think spending so much time with one program will help the players understand."
Walton said he doesn't mind taking an assistant position after running his own program for nearly a decade. He has often given credit to his assistant coaches Ryan Folmar, Brian Aguailar and Ryan Neill.
"(Holliday) will make the program. He's the head coach," Walton said. "He also believes that it's our program. That's how he treats it, and that's how I treated my program. The Oklahoma State people have made us all comfortable, and that makes the transition easier."
Walton was a standout pitcher at OSU, compiling a 20-3 record and 3.74 ERA in 54 appearances. As a senior, Walton led the Cowboys in wins and was 13-2 with a 3.20 ERA in 19 appearances.
ORU vacancy attracts plenty of interest
Oral Roberts athletic director Mike Carter said he was "inundated" with calls, emails and text messages about the school's new head baseball coach vacancy.
"It makes us feel good," Carter said on Monday night. "The credit goes to the fine coaches and players we've had at this university."
There's no timetable to replace nine-year coach Rob Walton, who accepted Oklahoma State's pitching coach position on Monday.
"We've got a great (coaching) staff in place and we have a lot of very good returning players," Carter said. "The program is in excellent shape. Our responsibility at this point is to find a highly qualified pitching coach with significant recruiting experience.
"Rob is arguably the best pitching coach in college baseball, and his departure leaves a big void."
Carter said he is happy for Walton, and that ORU wishes him the best.
Carter's candidate pool could include current assistant coaches Ryan Folmar, Brian Aguailar and Ryan Neill. But it appears the athletic director doesn't want to have tunnel vision on the new hire.
"My philosophy has always been, if the program is in good shape and a coach leaves, you look internally. You don't need to do a lot of changes," said Carter, who expects the current assistants to apply. "We haven't limited the candidates by any means. We're looking internally and externally."
The new ORU coach will help usher the program into the Southland Conference next season.
Original Print Headline: ORU's Walton going to OSU
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391