Uhlman promotion at Tulane somewhat unusual, but it’s worked before

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Jay Uhlman

The news Tuesday afternoon that Jay Uhlman was being promoted from interim to full-time head baseball coach at Tulane was a little surprising. After all, the school had parted ways with his previous boss, Travis Jewett, after six seasons that failed to produce an NCAA Tournament appearance.

But before you dismiss this as a not-so-good move, I give you one name who, once upon a time, was in Uhlman’s shoes – an interim head coach replacing his jettisoned boss during the season.

His name is Dabo Swinney. Tulane fans probably remember his old boss, Tommy Bowden.

We know how that has turned out for Clemson football.

Before coming to Tulane, Uhlman spent nearly a decade working under the highly revered George Horton at Oregon. Uhlman also wore the interim tag in Eugene three years ago when Horton left the program, but that was after the season and he never coached a game. When he didn’t get the full-time post, Uhlman came to Tulane.

Since the season ended for Tulane 10 days ago with a loss in an American Athletic Conference semifinal to league champion East Carolina – a team who’s hosting a super regional this weekend and hasn’t lost a series since it visited New Orleans in late April – the news hasn’t been who might be coming, but who might be leaving.

One by one, the names of who was landing in the NCAA’s transfer portal started to circulate. Ethan Groff. Zach DeVito. Jackson Linn. And most recently, Bennett Lee.

Every one of those four is either a freshman or sophomore. Lee led the conference and set a school record for batting average in 2021. Groff led the league in hitting in 2022, with Linn right behind – though mysteriously, neither made the all-conference team. DeVito was among the league leader in saves.

All four had late-season injuries in their big seasons – and don’t forget the early season injury to Teo Banks that took him out for most of his freshman year. Without those injuries, we may not be having a conversation about Travis Jewett’s replacement right now.

As the recruiting coordinator, Uhlman was a major part in getting DeVito, Linn and Lee, among others including first-team all-conference pitcher Dylan Carmouche, to Tulane. Unlike a head coach coming in from another program, he likely won’t have to re-recruit these players, whereas a program outsider might have had to do just that.

“After evaluating Jay against a number of other assistant and head coaching during the search process,” Tulane athletic director Troy Dannen said in the news release announcing Ulhman’s promotion, “it became clear the best candidate was already in our midst.”

Will Tulane baseball follow a path similar to Clemson football in the last decade? A couple of trips to the postseason – after just two since 2008 – would be a great start.

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Lenny Vangilder


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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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