Georgia hires LSU pitching coach Johnson to lead program after firing Stricklin
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia hired LSU pitching coach Wes Johnson as its new coach on Monday.
Johnson replaces Scott Stricklin, who was fired on May 26 following a 9-0 loss to South Carolina in the opening round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. Georgia finished 29-27 this season, including an 11-19 mark in the SEC.
Johnson was the Minnesota Twins' pitching coach before making the unusual move of leaving the major leagues for the job at LSU on June 22, 2022. At the time, Johnson said the career change was “very, very, very tough. This the toughest thing I’ve ever done.”
Johnson, 51, will remain with LSU (46-15) through its postseason. The Tigers, led by their strong pitching staff, will play Kentucky in a Super Regional starting Friday or Saturday in Baton Rouge.
“Being the head coach at Georgia is a dream come true," Johnson said in a statement released by Georgia. “I can’t wait to meet and start working with our amazing student-athletes and developing our plan to compete for SEC and national championships.”
Johnson also said he is grateful to LSU athletic director Scott Woodward and coach Jay Johnson "as we pursue a national championship this season and for supporting me and my family as we embark on this incredible journey to lead the Bulldogs.”
Georgia athletic director Josh Brooks said Wes Johnson brings the Bulldogs "a proven track record of developing student-athletes while helping teams achieve impressive results.
“We aim to compete for postseason success and championships, and Wes has done that throughout his coaching career at every level, from high school to college and up to the major leagues,” Brooks said. "We are confident he will make Georgia baseball one of the premier programs in the country.”
Johnson, a native of Sherwood, Arkansas, previously worked in the SEC as the pitching coach at Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Stricklin completed his Georgia tenure with a record of 299-236-1 overall and 121-146-1 in the conference. Stricklin guided the Bulldogs to three NCAA invitations but never advanced past the regional stage, including 2018 and 2019 when they were a host. They also were eliminated in the regionals last season.