Jan. 31, 2011
What do you think of Knoxville and the UT baseball program so far?
"I couldn't be more impressed with the city of Knoxville as a whole. It has a ton to offer a family. I'm amazed at the support this university gets from the town. It has to be one of the best college towns in America. The guys in the program have been very impressive to me, just their willingness to try new things and their desire to get better. "
Why did you decide to return to college baseball?
"Anytime you make a life-changing decision, it is always difficult to make. I have a deep passion for coaching. Even when I was in pro ball, anytime I had an opportunity to get on the field in an instructional league, I was there. The players have a lot to do with that as well. Getting to know them on a personal side, as well as a player and what makes them tick, I would be lying if I told you I didn't miss that when I went in to pro ball."
What differences are there between recruiting a kid to college versus trying to scout and sign them for an MLB team?
"In college, it is a big difference. Obviously, you are assessing their talent and evaluating them to see if they fit a need for you. If they do fit that need, then we are going to follow up and you have to build a bond with that family. You have to make that family trust you and they have to want to send their kid to you for four years. In pro ball, it's not that way at all. I may be dealing with 100 kids on my list every year. That's just too many kids to get to know. In pro ball, you are looking at more of a tools-type pick. You're not looking at what he can do for immediately, you are looking down the road. What can this guy do for us in four or five years.
Why is base running such a passion for you?
"It was almost by accident how I really started falling in love with base running. My first couple of years (as a coach), I didn't have the talent pool to where we could just sit back, hit and score runs, so I had to find an edge and find another way to score runs. I started messing around a little bit and decided to make a conscious effort to be better at base running so we spent a ton of time my first few years working on base running. What I noticed was the more we worked on it, the more the opposing team was focused on what we were doing rather than what was going on in their dugout. We kept implementing the system, kept developing it and tweaking it and it's what I am starting to put in place here now. My last year (at Tennessee Wesleyan), I had the system in and all the players knew it and we stole 171 bases. There's nothing better than knowing when you execute something right, the other team can't stop you."
What is your favorite baseball memory?
"I think about this a lot. A lot of people would say it was something they hit, a home run or a big play they made. For me, my favorite memory is when I stood up in front of San Diego and received the (Padres) Scout of the Year Award in just my second year. There are guys who have been scouting 15-20 years trying to get this award and to stand up in front of that community and future Hall of Famers like Trevor Hoffman, Adrian Gonzalez and those guys would have to be my best memory of baseball."