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August 31, 2007

George Horton heading to Oregon

DISCUSS OREGON'S BLOCKBUSTER HIRE IN THE CLUBHOUSE

Oregon has its baseball coach.

According to a source in Oregon and others in the coaching community, longtime Cal State Fullerton coach George Horton has accepted the coaching job at Oregon.

Cal State Fullerton assistant Jason Gill went on record about the hire and the possibility of him joining Horton in Oregon.

"I love Fullerton and will see what they have to offer, but it's very hard to turn down George Horton," he said. "George is the reason why I'm here, and Oregon is going to have a good situation."

While Horton's hire will come as a surprise to some, it illustrates just how serious the Ducks were in hiring a premier coach. Horton will reportedly be the highest-paid college baseball coach in the country.

In his 11 seasons with the Titans, Horton continued a winning tradition. He guided the Titans to the national title in 2004 and most recently led the team to a 38-25 record and a College World Series berth in 2007.

Horton will finish his tenure at Cal State Fullerton with an impressive 452-187-1 (.707) overall record. He also won Big West Coach of the Year honors on five occasions.

With his addition to the Pac-10 coaching community, the league now has another impressive name to add to the list.

UCLA coach John Savage believes the Horton hire would be great for Oregon and the league as a whole.

"George's legacy is outstanding and it would be another great addition to the league," Savage said. "Horton is a high quality coach and a great hire. With the size of city and raid fan base, Oregon could definitely become the SEC school of the West."

The Ducks are expected to introduce Horton as their new coach Saturday afternoon when the football team plays host to Houston at 12:30 p.m. (Pacific).

When announced, it's expected that Horton will be one of the highest paid coaches in the country.

While the search ends with Horton, the Ducks previously had their sights set on Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin and UC Irvine's Dave Serrano.

Check back for more on this story and other coaching news.

What's next for Cal State Fullerton?

The Titans have been down this road before.

After financially friendly Texas pried Augie Garrido away from Cal State Fullerton several seasons ago, the Titans looked to Horton to continue the winning tradition.

Horton did just that. However, the Titans are back to square one after the longtime coach decided to take the job at Oregon - another financially friendly institution.

As Cal State Fullerton embarks on a coaching search of its own, two names have come to the forefront - UC Irvine's Dave Serrano and current Titans assistant Rick Vanderhook.

While Serrano has history with the Titans, you can cross his name off the list.

In an exclusive interview, Serrano announced that he was staying put at UC Irvine.

"Fullerton is a great program and I had many memories there. However, I am not interested in leaving UC Irvine for Cal State Fullerton," Serrano said. "I feel that we have our program at UC Irvine headed the right direction and I feel like we have something special brewing."

With Serrano announcing his intentions of staying at UC Irvine, the Titans will likely turn their attention to Vanderhook, who was promoted to associate head coach during the team's trip to Omaha this past June.

Serrano supports a possible Vanderhook promotion, as does UCLA's John Savage.

"The timing of this situation is a bit complicated, but Vanderhook is a natural fit and I think he deserves to be the next head coach at Fullerton," Savage said. "Hook has established himself with the Titans and deserves an opportunity to run the program."

Come back later for more information on this situation and other coaching news.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at kendall@rivals.com.