He’s consumed king cake and crawfish while watching Mardi Gras parades in Port Arthur alongside more Texans named “Boudreaux” and “Thibodeaux” than he originally thought existed.
“We even have Dixie beer,” Will Davis marveled Monday. “It’s been a pretty smooth transition for me.
“Just because I’m moving to Texas doesn’t mean I’m going to cut off all ties with Louisiana.”
His deepest links arrive tonight.
Davis, the head coach in waiting at Lamar, welcomes in his alma mater and former employer to Vincent-Beck Stadium in Beaumont, Texas, for a 6 p.m. game Wednesday, reuniting him with 34 players that nearly one month ago addressed him as “Coach.”
“It’s going to be a weird night,” said Davis, the former LSU player and 10-year member of Paul Mainieri’s staff. “I’m not going to try to act like it’s not.”
Davis, now an assistant during head coach Jim Gilligan’s final season at Lamar, immersed himself into the program and town immediately, including his trip to Port Arthur Mardi Gras.
“It’s not New Orleans,” Davis says. “But it’s up there.”
The relocation and moving hassles have been the most strenuous part of Davis’ past two months.
Now settled in and with a new group of players to coach, Davis is gleaning all he can from Gilligan, the 38-year veteran whose longevity in the Southland conference illustrates the keys to fostering success that Davis says are unique to each school.
“Obviously I took a lot of great things from (Mainieri), but to see the way coach Gilligan does it here is also extremely beneficial for me, just because every school is different and what it takes to win,” Davis said. “There’s a lot of key themes at each school that just win in baseball, period, but there’s a lot of little niches at each school that you need to do to be successful and maximize your ability at that school.”
As he coached third base, Davis’ new team secured a three-game sweep of Southeast Missouri State to open its season. Two 2-1 nailbiters preceded a 5-2 win where. Davis said the team’s hitting awakened.
Davis’ wife, Danielle, and his father, Randy, gave him occasional updates on LSU’s series, including Friday’s 6-5 extra-inning thriller against Cincinnati.
“Look at Jordan Romero,” Davis said of his former pupil. “What a great kid. That was cool to see he got the walk-off hit. Happy for them.”
Davis stays in touch at LSU most frequently with Nolan Cain, the man who took his job. The two were the best men in each other’s weddings, and Wednesday they will alternate half-innings in the third base coach’s box.
It’ll be Cain’s fourth game as a third base coach, a rapid but nearly seamless transition for the former pitcher.
It is due in part to Davis, who coached third for four seasons at LSU. The men had conversations and reviewed film when Davis’ move seemed imminent and Cain taking an on-field role became a possibility.
“I don’t know that a lot of people would do that,” Davis said. “Other than having experience coaching third base, I don’t know that anybody could be more prepared to coach third base than Nolan was.”
Cain added: “He knows the little nuances of getting yourself positioned properly, the decisions and tactical things you keep in your mind. Constantly finding the outfielders when there’s runners in scoring position — a lot of small things you can’t even describe that come up in conversation that just stick with you.”
The two remain in a GroupMe text-messaging conversation among 15 of their other friends. Davis called Cain after LSU’s 4-0 win on Saturday, asking if he’d adjusted well.
“Just being there as a friend,” Cain said of Davis. “That’s invaluable.”
Both are adamant this friendliness will take a nine-inning pause Wednesday. Kramer Robertson, who misses Davis’ propensity to prank anyone — and he means anyone — on the team, keeps the same tone.
For Davis, it’ll start before the game.
He’s hosting an official visit Wednesday afternoon. He’ll sell this program, soon to be his program, leading into a game against the school where he got his beginning.
The game’s been sold out for months, and hopes to break a school attendance record and has been a conversation-starter with just about every Texan Davis has encountered.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he says. “Probably the best atmosphere we’ll ever have.”
Follow Chandler Rome on Twitter, @Chandler_Rome