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Josh Holliday might be a wizard

The Cowboys are 36-13 and coming off a near-sweep of OU in one of the biggest series’ of the season. It’s the first time they’ve won 36 games since 2008.



Photo Attribution: USATSI

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How else do you explain the transformation going on with OSU baseball this year with a stripped-down roster and a first-year head coach?

The Cowboys are 36-13 and coming off a near-sweep of OU in one of the biggest series’ of the season. It’s the first time they’ve won 36 games in a season since 2008 and there’s still a home series with West Virginia to be played as well as the Big 12 tournament and possible sub-regional.

Holliday was taking over a squad that returned two All-Big 12 second team players…and that’s basically it.

I’m a big believer in college he coaches (whether football, basketball, or baseball) being managers of humans over instructors of sport. What I mean by that is there is far too much importance placed on strategy and teaching by a head coach and far too little on how good that coach is at putting his finger on the pulse of a squad.

Mike Gundy has become really good at this — from where I sit. Travis Ford, I think, is a pretty good basketball mind from an individual perspective (again, I think) but not that great a maneuvering a Big 12 season (though I think he’s getting better).

Holliday, it’s clear, is already superb. After losing on Sunday to take two of three over the weekend from OU, here’s what he told the Oklahoman:

I’m disappointed we didn’t win today, but I’m certainly not disappointed with the way we’re playing. I’m not disappointed with their effort. (Oklahoma) would be the type of ballclub and the type of ace pitchers you’re going to have to beat if you really believe you can extend your season.

He’s basically taken one elite pitching prospect (who’s only 5-4, mind you) and melded together a team of veteran hitters and a good-enough-for-now staff to lead OSU to the precipice of its first 40-win season in quite some time.

Gary Ward won 40 games in his first season as head coach back in 1978 (they also played 62 that year). Tom Holliday won 46 in his first season (they played 65!). And Frank Anderson won 38 in his first season (they played 62).

But Josh has a chance to win 40+ in just over 50 outings, something none of these men can claim — and in doing so, set the winning percentage record for a first-year coach in the modern era.

And while the non-conference schedule hasn’t been elite, it’s been pretty good for a first-year skipper. If you need evidence that OSU can compete outside the Big 12, just look at the recent four-game sweep in Omaha over Rutgers, Nebraska (twice), and Creighton.

There’s still work to be done too. Oklahoma State can’t win the Big 12 regular season title (they sit at 11-9 right now) but if they sweep West Virginia this weekend in Stillwater they can still nab second (if OU sweeps Kansas State).

Something tells me Holliday doesn’t do regular season titles though. Which is why I think this team has a legit shot at at least getting to a a super regional with a chance to play for the College World Series.

And if not, it’s still been a successful first-year for the OSU lifer. He noted in that same Oklahoman interview that he was excited about how Bedlam went down, and really this is the highest compliment you can give a squad:

I’m really proud of my kids. Those guys are bringing it.

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