Former Tulane shortstop Andy Cannizaro — LSU’s recruiting coordinator and hitting coach — will interview for the head coaching position at his alma mater Wednesday, multiple sources told The Advocate.
Cannizaro, who has been in Atlanta all week recruiting for LSU, declined comment when reached Tuesday.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri told The Advocate on Tuesday that he had a “great conversation” with Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen last week, when he gave Cannizaro “as strong a recommendation as I could possibly give a person.”
“(Dannen’s) going to interview Andy, and I think Andy is a strong candidate for the job — and he should be,” Mainieri said. “Andy’s terrific in every way: He’s a Tulane alum, he’s a great player, he’s got a lot of things in his background that obviously made him very attractive to me and I’m sure would make him attractive to Tulane as well.”
Sources also confirmed to The Advocate that Southeastern Louisiana coach Matt Riser, another former Tulane player, would interview Wednesday. Riser did not immediately return a request for comment.
In the six days since David Pierce left Tulane to replace Augie Garrido at Texas, Mainieri and Cannizaro have kept in constant contact, Mainieri said, though topics have understandably varied.
“He’s been on the road recruiting,” Mainieri said of Cannizaro. “I talked to him multiple times a day, every day. Not just now about particular recruits or people he’s seeing, but now talking to him about the possibility of this thing at Tulane. I guess you could call some of it advice. He’s asked a lot of questions; I’ve given him some advice.”
Mainieri picked Cannizaro, then an amateur scout for the New York Yankees, to replace Javi Sanchez, who left LSU to pursue other professional opportunities in 2014.
Interviewing the former Yankees shortstop for his current job gave Mainieri an early glimpse into the person he has commonly called a “budding superstar” in coaching, but also an honest assessment of Cannizaro’s desired career trajectory.
“Andy made no bones about it when I interviewed him for the position,” Mainieri said. “He was very honest with me and told me he had aspirations of being a head coach and running his own program someday. That wasn’t a turnoff for me at all.”
One of the best players in Tulane baseball history and a 2007 inductee to the Tulane Athletic Hall of Fame, Cannizaro was a two-time All-American who spearheaded the Wave’s first College World Series appearance in 2001. The Yankees picked him in the seventh round of the MLB draft that season, beginning a nine-year pro career that spanned four organizations.
Cannizaro’s two seasons at LSU are his only ones in college coaching, but his imprint is noticeable. Under his tutelage, the Tigers offense led the Southeastern Conference in batting average, hits, stolen bases, doubles and total bases during their College World Series run in 2015.
Replacing eight of nine starters in that lineup this season, the offense hit .295 (third in the SEC) while striking out only 316 times — the fewest in the conference by more than 60 whiffs. LSU tied for the conference lead with 95 stolen bases.
Should Cannizaro get the job, he would be Mainieri’s 13th former assistant coach to be named a head coach at a four-year institution — a select fraternity that grew by one Tuesday when Dave Schrage accepted Butler’s position. Schrage was a graduate assistant under Mainieri at St. Thomas University in 1984.
“That’s a record I’m really proud of,” Mainieri said. “You’d like to feel that you’ve mentored people that have learned and grown under your leadership and then they go off and be successful with their own programs. If this happens, it’s part of the territory.
“I don’t want to lose Andy — believe me. I think he’s tremendously vital to our program. He’s had a great influence in his first two years, and I think our best days are ahead of us. I hope he stays with me for the foreseeable future, but I would never stand in his way; I would only help him.
“If this is what he wants and if he’s fortunate enough to be named the head coach at Tulane, I’d have no ill feelings whatsoever.”