What do you think when you hear the term “west coast” guy?
I’m not offended by it, but I just don’t know why people are categorized as “west coast” or “east coast” guys; they’re baseball coaches. I think there are philosophies that are the same and those that are different on both sides of the country. I’m a baseball coach that’s going to instill the fundamentals in our players that will hopefully lead to success… I think that’s what every coach wants to do.
What stands out as a different with recruiting from east to west?
Recruiting is much easier on the west coast, because you can roll out of your bed and see some of the top players in the country that are a baseball’s throw from your house. On the east coast, you have to get in your car more, you have to get on a plane more, so you have to be more exact on who you’re going to go see; you want to be right-on because it’s going to cost some money. On the west coast, you can go down to Ryan Lemmon Stadium or Blair Field four days a week and watch a handful of guys that are Division-I ready and able to be recruited.
How has your practice style been received at Tennessee?
When we first got here, the tempo of our practice was a little intimidating to these guys- the pace we wanted to practice, how quick we wanted to move from things, how quick our drills were. But I remember after a couple weeks, our guys were like “we get it now.” We try to play at that speed too, we want to play at our speed, we don’t play anybody, we’re playing the game of baseball. We don’t look at it as “we’re playing …,” we look at it as “they’re playing us.”
You’ve spoken about discipline, character, and effort being constants in your programs. How do you get those characteristics across to your players?
In all the places I’ve coached, sports psychology has been a big part of it- control the things you can control. A pitcher can only control the baseball until it leaves his fingertips, a hitter can only control the ball through his swing. You can’t control where the ball goes a lot of the time, you can’t control what the umpire’s call is going to be, you can’t control what the defense is going to do. Discipline, character, and effort are three traits that you can control every day, no one has a stake in those claims except for you.
What is your fondest memory of Omaha on the field?
Walking into the gates with UC-Irvine in 2007 with a team that nobody ever imagined- including ourselves- that that would be a reality, having to go through a Texas regional and a Wichita State super regional. To see the faces of that team and those players as we pulled up on 13th street with the stadium in the distance. Seeing the kids’ eyes as we walked on to that field- that’s a memory that stands up there with getting the final out against Texas in 2004 (with Cal-State Fullerton’s national championship team). You saw the dreams come true of a lot of young men, that you felt that you were a part of.
How about off the field?
People-watching- I think it’s always been great to see the enjoyment of people about the event that’s going on in Omaha. The outpouring of support and people that are vesting themselves in a college event is great. There are people everywhere, in restaurants, at the stadium, at the zoo, it’s amazing. The town stops for two weeks, and its one sole thing, and that’s Omaha.
Your fungo or your BP throwing- what’s better?
I was a pitcher and there’s a reason for that, I was not a great hitter. I can fungo, but it isn’t at its ‘A’ game, but I can still pound the zone as good as anybody, and I compete too. My hitters don’t like it, but I tell them that they’re not going to face anyone more arrogant or cocky than me, so it’s only going to make them better.
How do you establish your team’s identity from year to year?
One thing I’ve learned in coaching is that READ THE REST