According to a report from Kendall Rogers of D1Baseball.com (who is generally very “in the know” about these things), Kansas State athletics director Gene Taylor has found the replacement for Brad Hill — former OU and Virginia Tech head coach Pete Hughes.
This is not exactly inspiring news for K-State baseball fans. Hughes has coached Division 1 baseball since 1999 when he took over as the head man at Boston College. He took a relatively moribund Eagles squad and turned them into a regular participant in the Big East conference tournament, while never making an NCAA Regional appearance, before leaving for another rebuilding job at Virginia Tech after the 2006 season.
At VT, Hughes got the Hokies as high as 3rd in the Coastal Divison, and managed two NCAA Regional appearances, including as a host site in 2013, his last year in Blacksburg. He parlayed his 40-22 season into the head job at Oklahoma, and took four years to return the Sooners to the NCAA stage. Hughes resigned at the end of the 2017 season — with rumors that he left due to the Sooners being unwilling to work on extending his contract.
He’s spent the 2018 season as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Georgia, where the Bulldogs just completed a 39-21 after losing their final two games of their regional (host) appearance to Duke (who gets to head out to west Texas to face Texas Tech).
Hughes brings a ton of recruiting credibility, and Oklahoma finished the 2018 season, with largely Hughes-recruited players, at 38-25 (14-10 Big 12) and lost in the championship of the Starkville Regional to host Mississippi State on Monday to end their season.
Hughes’ only experience with K-State has been during the down period of K-State baseball, arriving after the then-Sunny Galloway-led Sooners lost to K-State in Manhattan in 2013, allowing K-State to secure their first Big 12 baseball title.
Hughes will have another rebuilding job on his hands, but for K-State fans this signals that NCAA Regionals may not be the goal for the program any time soon. Hughes is a solid hire, but is not likely to create any extra buzz around the program, and is not the “youthful” inflection many fans were hoping for, being just a few years younger than the departing Brad Hill, and in coaching nearly as long. Still, Hughes should be able to bring K-State back out of the cellar, and at least bring K-State back into regular contention for a Big 12 tournament berth.