LSU Baseball: Tigers have an obvious choice to replace Paul Mainieri

(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
(Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

LSU baseball head coach Paul Mainieri announced his retirement earlier this week.

Mainieri will step down as the Tigers’ head coach at the conclusion of the 2021 season.

“This decision was my decision, and it hurt to make this decision because it’s what I’ve done my whole life,” said an emotional Mainieri this week during a press conference announcing his retirement.

“It’s going to be weird waking up one morning and not being a coach anymore.”

The big question now is “where does LSU turn to replace Mainieri”?

There will be plenty of names bandied about. But there’s an obvious answer to the question.

LSU baseball should turn to Cliff Godwin to lead the program

East Carolina head coach Cliff Godwin is the obvious choice to replace Mainieri.

Godwin is a former LSU assistant who served under Mainieri in 2007 and 2008. He also worked under Mainieri at Notre Dame from 2005-2006.

In Godwin’s seven seasons as the head coach at ECU, he’s led the Pirates to a 225-128-1 record.

East Carolina has also finished first in the AAC over the last two seasons (not counting the COVID-19 canceled 2020 season).

Additionally, Godwin has extensive SEC experience, serving as an assistant at Vanderbilt (2004-2005), LSU (2007-2008), and Ole Miss (2011-2014).

Oddly enough, Godwin left LSU after the 2008 season to serve as an assistant at UCF.

Godwin left to follow his close friend Terry Rooney, who was hired as UCF’s head coach after the 2008 season (Rooney was also a former LSU assistant). Godwin was essentially Rooney’s top assistant at UCF, which is why he left Baton Rouge.

“I wanted to do it for the betterment of myself,” said Godwin of leaving LSU (via “It sounds selfish but it prepared me to be a head coach more than anything. That’s what I wanted at the time and I think it helped me a lot.”

Godwin wasn’t content just being an assistant on a great team. He wanted to prepare himself for a head coaching gig in the future. Leaving LSU for UCF likely wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right decision for Godwin’s long-term career goals.

And now, it appears that Godwin could land back at LSU — this time replacing his former boss.

Godwin is a top candidate according to Rivals. Will he be “the guy” for the Tigers?

We should find out in the coming days. But hiring a guy with years of SEC experience, head coaching experience at ECU, and a connection to Mainieri seems like a no-brainer for LSU.

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Don’t make this hard, Tigers. Go hire Cliff Godwin to replace Paul Mainieri.