Nebraska baseball head coach Will Bolt has revamped his staff recently, adding two new assistants into the mix after parting ways with Jeff Christy.
The Huskers announced Tuesday that current director of player development Rob Childress will be the new pitching coach, while former Wichita State assistant Mike Sirianni is also joining the staff. Both spoke with media Wednesday, expressing their excitement for their new positions.
Childress has been at Nebraska for the past few years, of course, but now returns to a hands-on role.
“Before I wasn’t able to coach the swing, coach the delivery, I got to coach hearts and minds,” he said. “I feel like that’s my strength anyway, and you know, now that I get the opportunity to be in the bullpen and hands on with pitchers, I look forward to that.”
He has over 30 years of coaching experience, including eight with the Huskers from 1998-2005. Childress then spent 16 seasons as Texas A&M’s head coach before returning to Nebraska in more of an off-field role. While he’s enjoyed being in that position, he’s been ready to get back to coaching.
“Always want to be on the on the field and in the grease,” Childress said. “I mean that’s what we all do, we’re all competitors and we want to be in that but for the last two years, it’s been good to serve all of these guys here.”
Sirianni will join him in competing and serving the team in an assistant spot. He said it was a “no-brainer” for him and his family to make the move to Nebraska, which has long been a special place to him. His vision is in line with the rest of the staff as well.
“You talk about about Will Bolt, you talk about Lance Harvell and Rob Childress, the staff is unbelievable,” Sirianni said. “Very similar backgrounds, very similar personalities, and recruiting philosophies and coaching philosophies.”
Recruiting is a strength of Sirianni’s, as he helped bring in top-35 recruiting classes the past two years at Wichita State. That’s a big focus for the Huskers right now, both new assistants said. The transfer portal is brimming with players, and Nebraska is set to heavily utilize it yet again. The team’s already made some additions, such as a trio of pitchers — Rans Sanders from Omaha, Bobby Olsen from Brown and Tulane transfer Grant Cleavinger.
Sirianni praised the work the Huskers have done recruiting in recent years, and laid out what the team is looking for in the transfer portal. Athleticism was a component he emphasized, along with pitching.
“We need some arms in here and some competitors, and speed and strength,” Sirianni said. “I know they’ve done a great job in their time here. And I just want to add to it and be a piece of the puzzle for them.”
Childress said some of his goals for the pitching staff are growing depth and keeping in-state recruits in Nebraska. On the field, he wants the Huskers to lead the conference in fewest walks per nine innings. They accomplished that this past season, ranking 20th in the nation in the metric.
More than anything, both new assistants want to help Nebraska win. Bolt led a run to the NCAA regionals in 2021, but hasn’t been able to get the team back in the past two seasons. That was part of what prompted a change in staff. The new-look staff is hoping to not only return to regionals, but be able to advance through the bracket in the coming years.
“This is where I want to be and I look forward to doing the very best I can to help Nebraska baseball and be what we’re supposed to be,” Childress said. “That’s competing to get to a regional each and every year and hopefully have an opportunity to host every so often and compete to get to Omaha. We’ve done that here before, and the expectation is to do that again.”