New head coach hopes to restore baseball prestige
After seven years of awaiting a head coaching job, Todd Whitting learned that good things come to those who wait. Whitting was recently hired to take the reins as the Cougars new head baseball coach.
“It’s great to be back home; I told a lot of people when I left to go to TCU that the main reason I left was to go better develop myself as a coach, to prepare to come back to the University of Houston at some point as the head coach,” Whitting said.
Whitting leaves TCU in good shape, having helped coach the Horned Frogs to their first NCAA College World Series appearance in school history and a 54-14 season.
“My time at TCU is something that means a lot to me,” Whitting said. “For me it’s about the next chapter. We’re looking forward to having that same success at the University of Houston.”
In less than two weeks on the job, Whitting has hired two assistants. Trip Couch will serve as recruiting coordinator, and Jack Cressend will be the pitching coach. Couch’s last job was an assistant coach at the University of Texas. Before that, he was an assistant at UH from 1995-2000, serving as hitting coach. Cressend’s last stop was at Tulane, where he was an assistant coach for two seasons.
With the arrival of Whitting, there was a departure from former coach Rayner Noble, who left after 16 seasons in Houston. Whitting had nothing but praise for Noble.
“I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair here today if it wasn’t for Rayner Noble; he gave me my first job in college coaching. I played for Rayner, I owe a lot to Rayner — I have a great deal of respect for Coach Noble and what he’s done with this program,” said Whitting.
Whitting takes over a competitive and talented team that had six players taken in the 2010 MLB Draft, led by shortstop Blake Kelso and pitcher Michael Goodnight.
“We have a core of an NCAA team, it’s a regional type team that we’re going to put on the field, and I’m really excited about where we’re at, at this point,” Whitting said, “This is not a situation where I’m coming to this program to rebuild it; I’m coming to reload it quickly and play for championships.”
Although it is Whitting’s first head coaching position, 15 years as an assistant in Texas baseball at UH and TCU is not a bad résumé for coming back to a familiar place like Houston.
“There’s a comfort level here for me actually in taking this job, because I am so familiar with the University of Houston,” Whitting said. “This is my dream job, it couldn’t have been a better set up for me.”
The College World Series and the regional playoff system provides underdogs like Houston and smaller market schools that are unranked a chance to win in it all.
South Carolina will be the defending champs next season. Looking back to 2008, Fresno State won it, facing elimination almost the entire way.
“We all start on the same starting line, nobody in this country is any closer to Omaha (Nebraska) then we are right now; we are all the same, so we all have the same opportunity in getting there in the end,” Whitting said.