Texas A&M head baseball coach Rob Childress agreed that it took quite the sales pitch to pull a Southern Miss alumnus away from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after a 12-year career as an assistant coach.
Ultimately, it was the A&M program that spoke for itself, Chad Caillet said.
Childress officially announced the hire Wednesday with Caillet coming on as an assistant coach with the Aggies, orchestrating the offensive game, infield defense and coaching third base. He filled a similar role at Southern Miss while serving as associate head coach.
“Honestly, I was in a terrific situation at Southern Miss, working with a terrific staff,” Caillet said. “[I] gave them 12 terrific years, had an unbelievable experience, but at the same time, I always said if I had the opportunity to go to a premier school, with the premier staff such as this and Coach Childress and Justin [Seely] and the rest of the staff, that there was no way I could possibly walk away from that without regretting it.”
During Caillet’s 12-year tenure with the Golden Eagles, his teams set school records for single-season runs, RBIs, batting average and on-base percentage. Last season, Southern Miss hit .264, while scoring 426 runs on 611 hits. The team’s 67 home runs was 35th in the nation, led by Matt Wallner’s 23, which was fifth in the country.
In 2017, when Caillet was named the Conference USA assistant coach of the year, the Golden Eagles finished among the top 10 in the nation in doubles (sixth), hits (third), home runs (fourth), runs (first), on-base percentage (seventh) and runs per game (fourth).
He accomplished these milestones with an aggressive offensive philosophy that continually puts pressure on opposing defenses, he said.
“My definition of playing fast is just to continue to put crazy pressure on the opponent, whether it be the defense or even the pitcher, just forcing him to make extra pitches, forcing him to field his position, forcing in the control of the running game,” Caillet said. “Anything that can help us to get an advantage to allow us to have better pitches to hit and capitalizing on those opportunities.”
The Hahnville, Louisiana, native takes over for Will Bolt, who left his post with the Aggies to take the head coaching position at his alma mater, Nebraska. Caillet inherits an offense that ranked 234th in the country in batting average (.224), 117th in hits (520) and 123rd in home runs (42).
“Anytime you bring in a new coach, there’s going to be a different feel and different look a little bit,” Childress said. “Everybody’s a little bit different in their own way, and [we] certainly know that he’s aggressive. His offenses have always applied pressure in a lot of different areas.”
While Caillet said he loves utilizing base stealing, he only will lean on it if his personnel allows for it. In the last nine seasons, the only one of his Golden Eagle teams to finish in the top 100 in the country in stolen bases was the 2017 squad with 78 (38th).
If the numbers on his resume weren’t enough, Calliet believes his history recruiting the SEC heartland made him attractive for the position. In 2010, D1Baseball.com named him Conference USA’s top recruiting coordinator after he landed the No. 21 class in the nation. He followed that with a third-ranked class in 2012.
“I think he’s going to be a big asset to [recruiting coordinator Justin Seely] and allow our footprint to be that much bigger recruiting kids that are in the SEC areas, but maybe not in the state of Texas.”
Ultimately, it was the relationships he built in Mississippi that paved the path for his journey to Aggieland. His former head coach, Scott Berry, put in a good word to Childress to aid in his hire, he said.
“If you told me a month ago I’d be standing here, I would probably tell you you were crazy,” he said. “But you know, everything happened with Will [Bolt] pretty quickly, and obviously, it opened up this opportunity.”