According to Lisa Pierce, there was no laundry list of pros and cons, no should-we-or-shouldn’t-we discussions between her and husband David.
No, when the offer came from Tulane for David to become its head baseball coach, the decision had already been made. He was going.
On Thursday, he arrived.
On a typically steamy New Orleans afternoon at Turchin Stadium, Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson handed a bountiful bouquet to Lisa Pierce before introducing David Pierce as Green Wave’s 23rd baseball coach. Pierce, who spent the past three seasons as coach at Sam Houston State, replaces Rick Jones, who stepped down in May after missing most of the 2014 season with health issues.
“I am extremely excited and thrilled to be here,” Pierce said. “Tulane has always been a program I’ve had a lot of respect for. I’ve been in the opposite dugout. Now that I have the opportunity to wear the olive green and lead this great team at this great university, it’s truly a dream come true.”
Pierce, 51, is only the fourth man to lead the Green Wave since 1967, following Milton Retif (1967-74), Joe Brockhoff (1975-93) and Jones (1994-2014). He comes with a résumé impressive enough to beat out the rest of the roughly 90 applicants.
Pierce compiled a 121-63 record in three seasons at Sam Houston State, leading the Bearkats to three consecutive NCAA tournament regional appearances, a feat achieved only one other time in school history. This season, Pierce’s team was 43-19, earning the second-most wins in a season since the team joined Division I in 1987.
After a 2-1 win over Dallas Baptist in the regional opener, the Bearkats fell to TCU 3-2 in a 22-inning marathon, the second-longest NCAA postseason game in history. After a win over Siena, another loss to TCU ended SHSU’s season.
Pierce spent nine years as an assistant coach at Rice before taking over at Sam Houston State in 2012. He was the Owls hitting coach from 2003-05 and pitching coach from 2006-11.
Thursday’s announcement came a day short of the nine-year anniversary of when Tulane beat Rice — with Pierce in the opposing dugout — in Game 3 to clinch a super regional title and reach the 2005 College World Series.
Dickson said Pierce fit specific criteria to win the job.
“Just the combination of knowing how to build a program and the challenges that go with it at being at a private university,” Dickson said. “That was really key. If you haven’t been exposed to that, and get thrown in there, you can be totally lost. He thrived in it. And then showing, ‘OK, as a baseball coach, I can recruit and develop kids from, particularly, our part of the country from Houston to Florida.’ And then showing, as a coach, that he can produce high competitive success. He’s done that.”
“I have a passion, I have an obsession for success with my players,” Pierce said. “It’s not necessarily a ‘we’re going to win’ type of mentality. My goal is to go through a process of preparing to win every game and getting guys to believe in what we do and have faith and confidence. So, I guess my goal immediately is to create that chemistry with my coaching staff and players to build that trust. Because, once you build that trust, that’s when you have the right to coach them.”
The Green Wave struggled through the 2014 season without Jones. He finished with a record of 818-445-2, leading the team to 12 NCAA regional appearances, two super regionals and the program’s only two College World Series appearances, in 2001 and ’05.
Lisa Pierce said, when the call came from Tulane, it was an easy decision for the family.
“We definitely discussed it, for quite a long while,” she said. “But when the offer was made, he knew he wanted it. There was no question at that point. He was ready if they were going to call.
“We’re very excited about the new adventure. We’re all-in.”