Todd Butler will be staying as Arkansas’ hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, and he’ll be getting a new title, too.
Todd Butler has withdrawn his name from consideration for a job at Texas after interviewing with the Longhorns last week.
Coach Dave Van Horn confirmed Monday that Butler has told Texas he’s not interested in the Longhorns’ vacant assistant coaching position, and Van Horn said Butler has been given the title of associate head coach at Arkansas.
Butler, who came to Arkansas in July 2005, interviewed at Texas last week, according to 247Sports site Hookem.com.
“Texas really wanted Coach Butler, and I had known that for a month,” Van Horn said.
“When the season was over, they brought him in. Normally you don’t go from assistant to assistant, but the situation … it was Texas, and they can do whatever they want financially. Todd’s got to take care of his family and all that. He didn’t want to go. Deep down in his heart he didn’t want to go, and we had that discussion a couple of times face to face. He came back after his visit down there and we talked and then I went and talked with our athletic director, Jeff Long, and it all went great.”
Van Horn said making Butler associate head coach was something he had thought about doing for a couple of years.
“That’s something that I think that he wanted,” Van Horn said of the new title. “And Todd will be a head coach in a couple of years, the next couple of years. The right job hasn’t opened up. I think that will help him. People don’t realize it but, especially this part of the country, the Southwest and the SEC, Todd is just known as a brilliant recruiter. He brings in our pitchers, obviously. He recruits everybody, and he just knows a lot of people. I didn’t want to lose him.”
Butler came under some criticism from fans for the Razorbacks’ hitting performance. Although the Hogs finished third nationally this season, they hit .271 as a team. And a year earlier, Arkansas hit .270 as a team. However, those hitting numbers to a degree reflect a drop in batting averages nationally as the NCAA switched to Batted-Ball Coefficient of Restitution bats (BBCOR), which perform more like wooden bats.
What some fans also don’t realize is the Razorbacks have had a lot of scholarship money tied up in pitching, Van Horn said.
“I think you’ll see our offense get better,” Van Horn said. “You can coach them up, but you’ve got to have guys who can hit, bottom line. Todd takes it personal, and it’s not his fault. You can blame it on me. You can blame it on Coach (Dave) Jorn. We’ve made decisions to go get pitching and invest money in pitching.”
Van Horn said the Razorbacks “had guys in the lineup the last couple of years that weren’t even on a baseball scholarship.”
“They walked on or they were on academic money or whatever the case may be,” he added. “You can’t survive offensively that way, year in and year out, but we knew we had some pitching that would help us get by.
“Again, I’m backing Todd up because he knows how to coach hitting. You can talk to any player that’s been through here from Logan Forsythe and Zack Cox and (Brett) Eibner and all these guys. You call and ask them about Coach Butler’s teaching and coaching, and they’ll tell you it’s the best they’ve ever had. And they’re moving up the ladder. You’re talking guys who are in the big leagues now. It’s about having talent. It’s about having guys that can hit.”
Van Horn said losing Butler this time of year would have been difficult on the Razorbacks, who are in full recruiting mode.
“If you have a bad year and you finish your season a month earlier, it makes it a little easier,” Van Horn said. “But you go all the way to the World Series and you lose a coach and then you’ve got to try to find a coach and we’re in the heart of recruiting right now. Todd’s out of town. I’m leaving tonight. I come back. Dave leaves. Todd’s going to be gone for 10 days in a row, just about. So we’re trying to play catch-up. So that would have made it very difficult. But we feel very fortunate to keep him, and I know the players like him ... It’s a good thing.”