Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Josh Holliday returned home to Stillwater in 2012 and has led the Oklahoma State Cowboys back to national prominence over the past five seasons.

Holliday was named the 15th head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys program on June 8, 2012. The OSU alumnus and native of Stillwater had served the previous three seasons as an assistant coach at Vanderbilt and established himself as one of the nation’s top assistant coaches and recruiting coordinators over the previous decade.

“I’m very honored and very humbled to be given an opportunity to come back to OSU and return to a place that has meant so much to me and my family over the past 30-plus years,” Holliday said. “I’m excited about the unique opportunity to build a future with a program that celebrates and recognizes its proud history, embraces the current players and works towards a future that everyone will be proud of and unite behind.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech compete during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on May 24, 2017 (Scott D. Weaver/Big 12 Conference)

“Our goal is going to be to approach every day with a tremendous amount of pride and discipline in becoming the best we can be in every facet of our lives, as coaches, as players and anyone involved with our kids. We’re going to work to win each day, and over the course of time we’re going to work to win a national championship. We’re going to do that together and do it in a way that enhances our players’ lives academically, socially and athletically. I hope that plan of attack and approach is going to train our players with an approach that will stay with them the rest of their lives.”

Since taking over the reins, Holliday has guided the Cowboys to five straight NCAA Tournament appearances, the program’s first-ever regular season Big 12 Conference championship, a Big 12 Tournament Championship in 2017, a pair of NCAA Super Regional berths, and a return to the College World Series for the first time since his playing days in 1999.

In 2016, the Oklahoma State Cowboys made their 20th College World Series appearance. Holliday became one of only 17 people in NCAA history to reach the CWS as both a player and head coach after playing for OSU teams in 1996 and 1999 that advanced to Omaha.

Holliday, who was named the 2016 ABCA/Diamond Midwest Regional Coach of the Year, guided OSU to a 43-22 overall record, and the Cowboys finished the season ranked No. 4 in the final national polls.

OSU’s 41 wins in 2013 was its most since 2008, and the Cowboys’ second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference was also its best in five years.

Under Holliday’s direction, the Cowboys won five of their eight Big 12 series, including four in a row to end the season.

 

OSU’s second season under Holliday was even better, and he became the first-ever Cowboy skipper to be named the Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year.

In 2014, the Cowboys went 48-18, marking the most wins for the program since 1994. The Oklahoma State Cowboys captured the Big 12 regular season crown with an 18-6 mark, then went on to win the NCAA Stillwater Regional championship and advance to the NCAA Stillwater Super Regional, its first Super Regional appearance since 2007.

OSU was ranked in the national polls throughout the 2014 campaign and finished the year ranked 10th in each of the final national polls, its first top 10 final ranking since 1999.

Further adding to the accolades, 2014 also saw a pair of Cowboys — Brendan McCurry and Zach Fish — earn All-America honors. Fish was named the Big 12 Player of the Year and was one of 11 Cowboys to garner All-Big 12 accolades, which included a school-record six first-team honorees.

The success continued in year three of the Holliday era as OSU went 38-20 and hosted an NCAA Regional for the second-straight year.

Holliday is the first former OSU player to serve as the program’s head coach. A four-year letterwinner for the Cowboys from 1996-99, Holliday was a starter on Cowboy teams that made four NCAA Tournament appearances and reached the College World Series in 1996 and 1999.

He played in 256 games, which ranks second all time at OSU. Holliday compiled a career .311 batting average to go along with 53 home runs, 62 doubles and 237 RBIs. He was inducted into the OSU Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003.

Holliday’s name is prominent throughout the OSU record book. He is OSU’s all-time leader in base on balls with 225 and also ranks in the top five on the Cowboys’ career lists in games, at bats, runs, hits, doubles, total bases, RBIs and hit by pitches. He also ranks seventh all-time in homers.

Holliday was a three-time All-Big 12 performer, earning first-team honors in 1998 (at catcher) and 1999 (at third base). He was a second-team selection as a utility player in 1997 and was named the Big Eight Conference Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American in 1996.

Also a standout in the classroom at OSU, Holliday was a first-team academic all-conference honoree in each of his four seasons, earning that distinction in both the Big Eight (1996) and Big 12 (1997-99) Conferences. He was named an Academic All-American and the OSU Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 1999.

Holliday was selected in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft by Toronto in the ninth round and spent two years in the Blue Jays organization. Following his professional baseball career, Holliday returned to Stillwater and joined the OSU coaching staff, where he served as an assistant for three seasons. He was a student assistant in 2001 before joining the full-time staff the following year.

Holliday left Stillwater to continue his coaching career in 2004, and over an 11-year span, he served as an assistant coach at some of the nation’s top baseball programs, serving stints on the staffs at North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Vanderbilt. He coached on seven NCAA Tournament teams and three of those advanced to the College World Series (Georgia Tech in 2006, Arizona State in 2009 and Vanderbilt in 2011).

In 2004, Holliday joined the coaching staff at North Carolina State and helped that team reach an NCAA Regional.

Following that season, he moved to Georgia Tech and in his first year was part of the Yellow Jackets’ ACC regular season and tournament championships. During that 2005 season, Georgia Tech ranked in the top five nationally in batting average and runs per game. The following year, the Yellow Jackets reached the College World Series.

In 2008, Holliday was on the staff at Arizona State and helped bring in the top recruiting class in the nation, which helped the Sun Devils reach the 2009 College World Series.

Following two years in Tempe, Holliday joined Tim Corbin’s staff at Vanderbilt and in three seasons as an assistant and the program’s recruiting coordinator, Holliday was a part of three NCAA Tournament teams, including the Commodores’ 2011 College World Series team.

Holliday once again proved his skill as a recruiter at Vandy as he landed the 12th-ranked incoming class in his first season and signed the top-ranked class in 2011 by bringing in 13 new players.

A prep standout on both the baseball diamond and gridiron at Stillwater High School, Holliday was drafted in the 14th round of the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft by Minnesota. He was the USA Today Gatorade Player of the Year in Oklahoma and a Mizuno/Collegiate Baseball High School All-American. He was also co-valedictorian of his graduating class.

Holliday is the son of Tom Holliday, who served as OSU’s assistant coach from 1978-1996 and was the program’s head coach from 1997-2003. Holliday’s younger brother, Matt, is an All-Star outfielder with the New York Yankees.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).