Skip Johnson is in his second season as head coach of the University of Oklahoma baseball program. He was named the 10th head coach in program history in June 2017 after serving one year as the Sooners’ pitching coach.
Prior to coming to Oklahoma, Johnson spent a 25-year coaching career in the state of Texas, including the most recent 10 years as an assistant and associate head coach at the University of Texas. In Johnson’s two seasons in Norman, Oklahoma has reached the NCAA postseason twice.
In 2018, Johnson coached OU to the program’s 38th NCAA Regional and saw nine players selected in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. The Sooners posted a 38-25 record and reached the finals of the NCAA Tallahassee Regional. Outfielder Steele Walker was named a Second-Team All-American by Baseball America and the NCBWA, and pitcher Levi Prater was selected as a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Outfielder Kyler Murray, who went on to win the 2018 Heisman Trophy with the OU football team, was the ninth overall selection in the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft. Nine players were drafted, including five in the first 10 rounds (Walker in the second round, pitcher Jake Irvin in the fourth round, pitcher Austin Hansen in the eighth round and outfielder Cade Harris in the 10th round.
Johnson made an immediate impact on the Sooner pitching staff upon his arrival for the 2017 season. Oklahoma pitchers surrendered the fewest home runs in the Big 12 Conference in 2017 and combined for 531 strikeouts to rank fourth in the league and fourth in OU single-season history. The Sooners’ 9.26 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second in the conference. As a team, OU pitchers struck out 10 or more batters on 24 occasions.
Sooner pitchers combined for 17 starts of six innings or more in 2017, including the first two games of the Louisville Regional. Three Oklahoma pitchers were selected in the 2017 MLB Draft. Sooner closer JB Olson was drafted in the 10th round to extend a string of seven straight years with an Oklahoma player chosen in the first 10 rounds. OU saw starter Devon Perez and reliever Vincenzo Aiello selected on day three of the draft.
Johnson was hired as the pitching coach at Texas for the 2007 season under Augie Garrido, who stepped down from his position as the winningest coach in college baseball in May 2016 to take on new duties in the UT athletics department. In 10 seasons, Johnson helped the Longhorns to seven NCAA Regional appearances, four Super Regionals and three College World Series appearances.
During his tenure in Austin, 32 Texas pitchers were selected in the MLB Draft, including 14 in the first 10 rounds and three first-round picks. Johnson also oversaw the development of six Longhorn pitchers who have made it to the big leagues. The Texas pitching staff produced a team earned run average below 3.00 on five occasions and struck out better than 7.5 per-nine-innings in five of his last eight seasons. As Texas reached its second CWS with Johnson on staff in 2011, his pitchers led the Big 12 in ERA (2.35), batting average against (.198) and strikeouts per nine innings (8.28).
Prior to his time in Austin, Johnson was the head coach for 13 years at Navarro College of the NJCAA’s Texas Eastern Athletic Conference. From 1994-2006, he guided the Bulldogs to 13 NJCAA Regionals, nine TEAC championships and four regional titles while compiling 450 wins.
Johnson has also mentored a number of players outside of those he coached at Navarro and UT. Johnson regularly works with three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Homer Bailey of the Cincinnati Reds. He’s also worked with Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles, among others.
A standout baseball player at Denton High School, Johnson began his collegiate playing career at Ranger (Texas) College. After a two-year career there, Johnson moved on to play baseball at the University of North Texas in 1988 before the school dropped its baseball program. He completed his collegiate playing career at UT-Pan American, lettering for the Broncs in 1989 and receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1990. Johnson earned a master’s degree in education from UT-Tyler in 1993.
A native of Denton, Texas, Johnson and his wife, Cathy, have two sons, Tyler and Garrett.
Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles First Baseman:
"As far as baseball, Oklahoma is getting the best guy I know of. And I'm talking about high school, college, minor leagues, big leagues. Just as far as knowing the game, being able to relate to players and communicate with them, and being able to understand players, how they tick and how to get the most out of them, I think he's the best at those things. And as far as a person, there aren't too many people out there I hold in higher regard than Skip Johnson. I played for him for two years some 11 years ago and we're better friends now than we ever have been. He's just a really down-to-earth guy and I just can't think of many guys I have more respect for than him."
Augie Garrido, Former Texas Head Coach:
"This is an exciting new era for Oklahoma baseball with the hiring of Skip Johnson. He's going to bring the core values of the state of Oklahoma itself and he's going to bring championship baseball back to Norman and the University of Oklahoma. The legacies of Coach (Enos) Semore, Coach (Larry) Cochell and Coach (Sunny) Golloway have all been a part of his own observation and his own development. I sincerely believe all of us in coaching are influenced by the people who we're surrounded by. He was surrounded by the spirit of Oklahoma baseball and the people in the leadership roles at OU. He's been on the Texas side of it and so he knows about arch rivals from the inside point of view, and he brings with him a background of championship baseball from when he was head coach at Navarro. I think the fans are going to enjoy the authenticity of his core values system, how he relates to the players, the academic demands he'll put on them and the results he'll get both academically and athletically as he provides championship leadership for the University of Oklahoma."
Tim Tadlock, Texas Tech Head Coach:
"I've known Skip since we were on the same Little League team and some things never change. What you see is what you get with Skip. He's a true baseball guy who has earned the right to lead a program like OU. It's neat to see that Joe Castiglione recognized almost 30 years of commitment to the game of college baseball. Skip is baseball all day, every day. Our league just got better.”
Roger Clemens, Former Major League Baseball Pitcher:
"Congratulations to the University of Oklahoma Baseball program. Skip Johnson is not only a great coach, but is a fantastic teacher of the game we all love. And even more, he is a solid man who cares about younger men who are trying to reach their goals. I tip my hat to Skip and his wonderful family who have spent countless hours helping all of us to become more successful at our craft."