Nebraska Hires Texas A&M’s Bolt As Head CoachCoaching Buzz
Want to get in-depth coverage? Subscribe to D1Baseball
Sometimes you get called home.
Nebraska’s own Darin Erstad served a lengthy stint as head coach but stepped away from the program a few weeks ago to spend more time with his family. The Huskers are handing the keys to the program over to another beloved Cornhusker, Texas A&M assistant Will Bolt.
This hire hardly comes as a surprise. The Huskers inquired about Bolt’s boss, Texas A&M’s Rob Childress early in the process. However, Childress is at A&M and the Southeastern Conference, and the move wouldn’t’ have made much sense from a career standpoint, especially considering Childress has a robust buyout for well over $1 million. The Huskers also inquired about other brand name coaches, including Oregon State’s Pat Casey, among others.
In the end, the Huskers are going with their alum, the 39-year-old former standout and the player who recorded the final out in 2001 as the Huskers punched their ticket to the College World Series for the first time in program history.
“I couldn’t be more excited for Will and his wife Lauren and his entire family. To have an opportunity to go back to your alma mater and to lead the University of Nebraska program. That’s special,” Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. “I’ll be forever thankful to him and his family for all they’ve done for A&M Baseball in 2006 and 2007, and for the last five seasons here. We accomplished many things thanks in part to his great leadership. I think he’s going to have great success.
“Just like Darin Erstad, he’s going to care about that program like no one else,” he continued. “He’s going to work tirelessly to build on the success that Darin had in that program and in the Big Ten Conference.”
Arkansas head coach and former Huskers skipper Dave Van Horn had this to say about Bolt’s hire.
“He started for me as a true freshman at Nebraska. He’s as fierce of a competitor as I’ve ever coached,” Van Horn said. “He basically willed our team to the College World Series his senior year — his last year at Nebraska. Again, he’s as tough as any kid I’ve ever coached.
“He’s paid his dues,” he continued. “He’s been a recruiter all over the country. He does great work with hitters and he’s ready to be the head coach at Nebraska. I always knew he was going to be a baseball coach. He had that knack and feel and he could see something coming before we could see it. He’s exactly what you’re looking for in a head coach.”
Even after his playing days, Bolt continued to have plenty of familiarity with the Huskers program. He had a brief stint as a volunteer assistant for the Huskers before moving on to Texas A&M as the volunteer for two seasons. Bolt then became the head coach at Texarkana (Texas) College in 2008 before rejoining the Nebraska program in 2012 as the associate head coach under Erstad. During that time, Bolt helped guide the Huskers to the NCAA tournament in 2014, this after the program had a five-year hiatus from the tourney. Bolt joined the A&M staff as an assistant and hitting coach in 2015 and recently completed his fifth campaign with the Aggies, helping lead the program to five NCAA tournament appearances, three Super Regional appearances and one trip to Omaha.
Bolt is tasked with trying to take the Nebraska program to the next level. The Huskers have reached the NCAA tourney three of the last four seasons, including making a strong run down the stretch this season to make the postseason field. However, Nebraska hasn’t won a Regional since 2005, the last time they reached the CWS.
Times are different. The Huskers are no longer in the Big 12 Conference with an instant pipeline into the State of Texas. But with the addition of Bolt, the Huskers now reopen that pipeline, most importantly, to the Texas junior college ranks. NU also must protect its turf from a recruiting standpoint. Bolt and the Aggies had a wealth of success recruiting the Cornhusker State and the Lincoln area in particular.
It’s time for the Bolt era at Nebraska.