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Arizona baseball: Coaching names to keep an eye on

Some early candidates for the Arizona coaching job.

UCSB Athletics

With Andy Lopez retiring on Monday, the attention should now turn to who will come to Tucson to get this program turned around.

The obvious name to keep an eye on is the current head coach at UC-Santa Barbara, Andrew Checketts. Checketts has been the head coach at UCSB since June 2011, and has the highest career winning percentage of any coach in UCSB history.

The Gauchos have been to the NCAA Tournament each of the last three years, including earning a No. 1 seed and hosting duties in this year's Regional play. But they will not host on their campus because of a huge issue the school has.

They have no lights on their baseball field.

Checketts has been outspoken about the lack of lights at Santa Barbara, which has led to several prominent games being declared a tie in extra innings over the past several years.

He did sign a contract extension through 2019 at the beginning of this season, but if Greg Byrne really wants him, he'll get him.

Checketts played for Lopez at Florida for one year in 1995, which was both of their first years at UF. Checketts wound up transferring to Oregon State, and was drafted in the 21st round of the 1998 MLB Draft.

D1Baseball's Aaron Fitt offers up a couple more options.

Rodriguez played for Lopez at Pepperdine, and Wasikowski was an Arizona assistant under Lopez from 2002-2011. He was also on Lopez' coaching staffs at Florida and Pepperdine.

Wasikowski brought in top-ten recruiting classes in each of his first four years at Arizona, and even though he was not around for the 2012 season, having departed to restart the Oregon program, there's no doubt that his influence and recruiting abilities were large parts of that team's success.

Other names that have come up include Terry Francona (not happening) and Pat Murphy (oh my god what). If you don't know, Murphy was Arizona State's head coach from 1995-2009, but was forced to leave ASU amid an education scandal, leading to the Sun Devils being banned from the 2012 postseason. Murphy is currently the El Paso Chihuahuas manager (San Diego Padres Triple-A affiliate).

I'm all in on Checketts, as he is just about to turn 40 years old. Wasikowski is five years older. Both have been instrumental in turning programs that had nothing just four years ago into yearly powerhouses. Both would be good fits, and both would be better at recruiting in this day and age than Andy Lopez was.