Schlossnagle’s Traitorous Turn Can Help the Hogs in a Few Ways

Jace LaViolette, Jim Schlossnagle, Texas A&M baseball, Texas baseball, Arkansas baseball
photo credit: Texas A&M Athletics / Texas Athletics

As if the sting of losing the College World Series Finals wasn’t enough, Texas A&M baseball fans now have to deal with the loss of head coach Jim Schlossnagle – who is jumping ship to their biggest rival, the Texas Longhorns.

News of the move broke less than 24 hours after the Aggies head coach snapped at a reporter in Monday’s postgame press conference for asking a perfectly reasonable question about the UT rumors.

It turns out that Schloss was lying through his teeth. Right after the Aggies stepped off the bus back in College Station, he abandoned ship. In fact, the deal was reportedly done before Texas A&M even began its postseason campaign. Schlossnagle issued a public apology to the wounded journalist at his introductory presser in Austin.

Maybe if Schlossnagle was actually focused on the task at hand in Omaha, the Aggies could have come out on top. Instead, the Volunteers came back to take the final two games and secure the national title. 

The 53-year-old was spotted on his phone in the dugout just minutes before Game 3 of the Finals began – a strange sight given he was about to coach the biggest game of his life. I wonder who he was texting?

This isn’t even the first time Schlossnagle has weaseled his way out of his current post to leave for an in-state rival. In a way, Texas A&M fans should have known what they were getting in Schloss based on the way they hired him in the first place.

“I have no interest in any other job,” then-TCU head coach Schlossnagle said right before leaving Fort Worth for College Station. That right there is a slimy pattern of behavior.

Sports columnist Jim McClain compared Schloss’ actions to that of Nick Saban back when he was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins and flat-out said that he was “not going to be the Alabama coach.” Days later, there he was donning crimson in Tuscaloosa.

Schlossnagle could have at least attempted to coach-speak his way around the question by saying it wasn’t the right time for stuff like that immediately after a loss. But no, he deliberately decided to try and dunk on the media, only to do a complete 180 the day after the championship loss.

I can’t help but think what it would feel like if Dave Van Horn had bounced to LSU or Ole Miss the day after losing the 2018 CWS Finals to Oregon State – chaos, pandemonium, anarchy and worse. This is a fanbase where a select few lunatics committed arson on the starting quarterback’s truck 10 years ago. That would have been nothing compared to the outrage of Van Horn snaking the Hogs for a rival.

You can’t help but feel for Texas A&M, as this is an all-time low for the “little brother” program in the Lone Star State. Making matters worse – or better, for the rest of the country – is the fact that Texas is joining the SEC for the upcoming season. That series, whenever and wherever it happens, will be appointment television.

Arkansas baseball coach Dave Van Horn discussed the headline news at his Wednesday presser, saying that it will definitely spice things up in the conference. He added that while he knew Texas was likely to make a coaching change, he didn’t expect Schlossnagle to make the in-state jump.

“We knew (Schlossnagle) was buddies with (Chris) Del Conte at Texas. We knew three weeks ago that Texas was going to let their coach go. Turmoil inside of their program,” he said. “Am I surprised? Not really. But then again, I am a little bit because of what was going to go on at A&M. They’d already made a lot of commitments to upgrade their stadium. Their fanbase is huge, passionate, they show up, they make a lot of noise.

“It’s a tough situation when you jump from one school right down the road to another one. They don’t like each other in the first place. It’s going to be interesting in our coaches’ meetings.”

Shockwave Effect on Arkansas Baseball’s Portal Hunting

The Schlossnagle switch is an atomic start to the college baseball offseason, and the fallout from it will have ripple effects on the rest of the country – particularly the SEC. The impact on Arkansas, specifically, is multi-layered.

Dave Van Horn has already been hard at work after another postseason shortfall, as the Razorbacks have already landed eight commitments in the transfer portal. The Aggies’ newfound head coaching vacancy presents numerous poaching opportunities on a number of now coach-less Texas A&M baseball studs.

Van Horn himself seemed to suggest that Arkansas will have its eyes on some of the departures out of College Station, but the Head Hog knows they won’t come cheap.

“You’re going to see some movement from a couple teams in Texas, and some of them might jump from one team to another. Or maybe this is their time to get out and do something else,” he said. “There will be some big names, but you’re talking a lot of money for some of these kids.

“I don’t think people realize what’s going on in the NIL scene in college baseball when you’re talking two, three, $450,000 to get a player.”

Sure enough, a handful of Aggies have already entered the transfer portal. That includes star players like sophomore outfielder Jace LaViolette and freshman third baseman Gavin Grahovac, who both put on a show this season.

A potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 MLB Draft, the 6-foot-6 LaViolette hit .307 this season with a 1.189 OPS and 29 home runs. The burly Grahovac burst onto the college baseball scene by launching 23 home runs and posting a .296 average with a .987 OPS to boot, earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. With Arkansas having needs at both of those sluggers’ respective positions, expect Van Horn to reach out to the pair.

Another noteworthy portal entry out of College Station came from utility infielder Kaeden Kent, who caught fire in the postseason and filled in admirably for injured star Braden Montgomery. Kent started just 24 of 68 games, but posted a slash line of .330/.419/.500. He hit just four home runs, but was an on-base machine for the Aggies.

Did that previous paragraph sound familiar? It certainly should for Arkansas fans, as Kent’s sophomore season had an eerily similar narrative to Razorback standout Peyton Holt, another utility infielder who jumped into the lineup for an injured star in Peyton Stovall and absolutely raked in limited appearances. With Holt graduating, adding Kent into the fold would give Arkansas a like-for-like replacement in that spark plug role.

This is only the first batch of expat Aggies, with more sure to come in the next few days and weeks. With the Hogs still having needs around the diamond, Van Horn and the rest of the staff will be licking their chops with blood in the water in College Station.

Texas A&M Downturn Bodes Well for Hogs

As far as a long-term outlook goes, Schlossnagle moving to Texas is a net positive for Arkansas. The Longhorns have enough money and prestige to lure in any top coach, so they were likely to be a major player in the newly-expanded SEC regardless. For the Aggies, it’s a bit more tricky.

There’s certainly plenty of money in College Station, too – judging by the fact that the board is paying out the largest buyout of all time to outcast football coach Jimbo Fisher – but the prestige is another story. The Longhorns boast six national titles throughout their history. Because Schlossnagle couldn’t get the job done in Omaha, the Aggies still have nada.

That relative lack of history will make it a bit harder to pull in a top coach and keep the success rolling at Blue Bell Park. That’s not to say it’s impossible, but it certainly presents a tough challenge for Texas A&M. Rather than their offseason consisting of reloading the national runners-up to compete for the SEC again, the Aggies must conduct a full-scale coaching search and likely start with a gutted roster.

That’s a clear advantage for Arkansas and the rest of the SEC, both in the short term by poaching Aggie stars in the transfer portal and in the long term with high school recruiting and national perception. Getting your head coach stolen by your sworn nemesis is the definition of “bad for the brand.”

The Razorbacks definitely aren’t going to land all of these defecting Aggies. Some will follow their head coach, Benedict Arnold, to Austin. Others will surely head to greener pastures at LSU or the defending national champion Tennessee Volunteers. But if Arkansas can even secure one of these stars, it can be considered a win when you add in the reputational hit that the Aggies are taking by going back to square one.

“I don’t know who A&M is going to hire,” Van Horn added. “I just know our league is really, really good and when Texas comes in and OU comes in this year, it’s going to be even better.”

Recruiting is a zero-sum game. When your rivals look worse, you look better by contrast – and Texas A&M certainly looks to be in shambles right now.

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See our latest here:

John McClain’s full take on Schlossnagle to UT:

Paul Finebaum rips Schloss for his behavior at what ended up being his final press conference at Texas A&M:

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More coverage of Arkansas baseball from BoAS… 

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