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When Pat Casey made it official Tuesday afternoon that he would not be returning to the Oregon State baseball program as its head coach, the reality hit that the most successful coach in the school’s history would not be back.

There’s really no debating the greatness of Pat Casey — 900 total wins and three national titles during an illustrious 24 years at the helm of the Beavers.

But also look at Goss Stadium itself and all the improvements that have taken place over the years.

Since the start of the 2006 season, no college baseball program has won as many national titles as the Beavers. South Carolina came close winning back-to-back crowns in 2010 and 2011, then reaching the finals in 2012 before falling to Arizona.

Florida, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Virginia, LSU and Arizona have all played in two finals, with only North Carolina failing to win a title in that span, and that was thanks to Casey and the Beavers.

No matter who athletic director Scott Barnes eventually settles on as Casey's successor, it won't be easy for him.

So who exactly should be the next head coach and leader of the Oregon State baseball program?

That continues to be the burning question among Beaver Nation.

And it’s probably not as easy as you might think.

There are two lines of thought that I have heard.

The first is to hire from within and name either Pat Bailey, who served as the interim coach this past season and guided the Beavers to a 36-20-1 record and a home regional, or Nate Yeskie, the current pitching coach.

While Bailey did an admirable job in an unenviable situation, there seems to some detractors in the fan base who were less than impressed with the way the season wrapped up.

I can understand that part, for sure, as the Beavers struggled over the past 15 or so games and laid several eggs at home — a rarity in the past seven or so seasons.

To me, it depends on if you are a glass half empty or glass half full kind of person when it comes to the job Bailey did this season.

The glass half empty crowd considers the 2019 campaign more of a failure because the Beavers didn’t play the same level of baseball as the past two years and were knocked out at home in two games of the regional.

That crowd also may not have thought Bailey had the same kind of fire as Casey and missed it.

The glass half full crowd, myself included, looked at the job Bailey did as a positive.

Despite losing three first-round draft picks and several more key players in last year's MLB draft — along with suffering several key injuries, especially to the pitching staff, this season — the Beavers battled for the Pac-12 title into the last weekend of the schedule.

As for the end-of-the-season swoon, it makes sense with all the injuries, inexperience and youth that the Beavers hit a wall late.

And with Bailey not having been a head coach in more than a decade, I’m sure he made some mistakes that he would learn from if given the opportunity.

Yeskie, meanwhile, has been a tremendous assistant and obviously gets his pitchers to buy into his and the Beavers’ philosophy.

He has received plenty of support from former players that he should be the next head coach.

I wouldn’t be opposed to either of those options.

I also wouldn’t be opposed to testing the waters and seeing who might be out there that has had success as a head coach at other programs.

The job has to be one of the most sought after in the country and is certainly drawing plenty of attention from some big-name and up-can-coming coaches.

Former pitcher Ben Holmes (Wetzler) is not a fan of that possibility, however, and wrote on Twitter that “If you go out of the program you destroy everything that was built and it becomes just another program. That’s not an option.”

Ben wasn't alone as a number of former players have been supportive of Yeskie getting the job.

The toughest part about going outside of the current staff is that, well, the current staff, which has been sensational, is likely to all be gone.

And that, to me, is the biggest reason to name either Bailey or Yeskie as the next coach and keep the continuity that has been in place for the past decade plus.

But here's the harsh reality: There’s no guarantee, whichever direction Barnes and Co. decide to go, that the program will remain in the upper echelons of the sport.

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Steve Gress is the sports editor for the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at steve.gress@lee.net.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald