TEMPE, Ariz. (NWAOnline.com) - Nebraska hired Darin Erstad as its new baseball coach Thursday, passing over a list of other finalists that included Arkansas hitting coach Todd Butler.
Butler, who is in his sixth season at Arkansas, interviewed for the position earlier this week. He had strong backing from Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn, who spent five years as Nebraska's head coach from 1998-2002.
Mike Anderson, an assistant for Van Horn at Nebraska, was fired as the Cornhuskers head coach last month.
"I think they hired (Erstad) for a couple of reasons," Van Horn said. "Number one, the players are familiar with him because he was on the staff this past year. They have a lot of players returning that were upset and uptight about everything that had gone on, from everything I've gathered. Darin was a great baseball player and has a great baseball mind, and I'm sure he'll do a great job.
"In my eyes, Todd was the best candidate. I think in talking to (Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne), he feels the same way but maybe he had to go that way. I'm glad to have Todd back."
It's the second consecutive year Butler, 45, has interviewed for a head coaching position. He interviewed twice for the Houston job last summer before being passed over for Todd Grantham.
Butler was the head coach at his alma mater McNeese State from 2001-03. In addition to hitting coach, he also serves as Arkansas' recruiting coordinator, serving as the lead recruiter for several Razorbacks signees in recent years.
"He's a great recruiter, obviously," Van Horn said. "You can tell by the players we've had in here the last few years and the players we have signed. We hope we get them next year because they're in all the draft books and might sign.
"He does a great job of leading that and a great job with our hitters. He's a well-rounded coach. He's ready to be a head coach. I'm sure there's a reason he didn't get that job and maybe because it wasn't the right spot for him. The right job will pop up for him and I'll do all I can to help him because I feel like that's part of my job is to help the assistants find the right job. His time is coming."