Auburn, AL (WIAT)-Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs formally introduced Sunny Golloway as Auburn’s head baseball coach at a news conference Saturday morning in the Athletic Complex Auditorium.
“I’m really excited about this opportunity because I’ve always held the Auburn baseball program in very high regard,” Golloway said. “The history of the Auburn program was a huge factor in making this decision. Secondly, the Southeastern Conference is the top baseball conference in America. Being able to compete in the SEC is a challenge that we look forward to. With our location, we are in a hotbed of talent. We will be able to hit the road recruiting right away, and we look forward to recruiting the best student-athletes to represent this outstanding university.”
Golloway has spent the past eight seasons as head coach at the University of Oklahoma, where he led the Sooners to seven NCAA Regional berths, four NCAA Super Regionals and the 2010 College World Series.
“I had heard quite a bit about Jay and really wanted to meet him,” Golloway said. “And right after I met him, I knew it was going to be a great fit. I think that’s very important – who you’re working with on a daily basis, the commitment to the student-athletes in your program, and making sure that everything is in place to pursue an opportunity to win championships. That’s what we want to be about – we want to win championships.”
This season Golloway led the Sooners to a 43-21 overall record, a Big 12 Tournament title, an NCAA Regional title and a Super Regional appearance.
His final team at Oklahoma also produced a pair of All-Americans, including pitcher Jonathan Gray who was selected third overall in last week’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
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TRANSCRIPT OF INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE FOR AUBURN BASEBALL COACH SUNNY GOLLOWAY
Auburn Athletic Director Jay Jacobs
“Good morning, everybody. War Eagle! Thank you all for being here this morning. We certainly do appreciate some of our coaches being here and certainly some of our baseball supporters, and obviously you guys that cover us in the media. We appreciate all of you being here. It’s been a fun few days here in athletics. We get a chance to welcome Sunny Golloway and his wife, Charlotte, and daughter, Taylor, and son, Callen, here. We’ve gotten to know them over the last 24 hours, and you are going to find that not only are we going to have a chance to win some baseball games, but they are going to be great people in the community. They are people of character and integrity, and we are certainly excited to have them here. As we have been through the process the last couple of weeks, I certainly want to thank Joe Beckwith and Tim Hudson for their help throughout this process and certainly many of you who are here that have offered your advice and opinions about who we should be looking at, what the qualities are and the characteristics of our next head baseball coach are. So I thank all of you, and we certainly appreciate those two guys’ input as well. But when we started out, we wanted to hire a coach that was a proven winner and someone that had a history of a proven track record of winning, someone who had a proven track record of developing players. Sunny has had over 100 players drafted, and he’s been to 14 of the last 15 NCAA Regionals. That’s really important, but the thing that we all came to love and admire about Coach was his character and integrity, and he’s a teacher. He wants to invest in these young men’s lives in every possible way, not just on the baseball diamond but in their life. So we are excited certainly to have him and Charlotte and their family here, and please join me in welcoming our new head baseball coach, Sunny Golloway.”
“Let’s start off and get this right – War Eagle! I’m really excited. I’m very, very excited to be here today and very humbled by the opportunity to be the new baseball coach at Auburn University and be part of the Auburn University family.
“It’s been a crazy week since the Super Regional, to be quite honest with you. I wish maybe we had to prolong this one more week and that I was getting back from Omaha. I will tell you this, regardless of the outcome of this year’s season, it would not have made a difference. This is a place we are excited about being at, and it has become home really quick. My wife, Charlotte, is here with me of course, as Jay said. My daughter, Taylor, and my son, Callan, my little switch-hitting shortstop. He’s a heck of a player, by the way. Taylor just got through graduating from the University of Oklahoma. We are very proud of her. She was the captain of the cheer squad there. She wants to make Auburn her home and come with us. We are excited about that. My oldest daughter, Sunni, is home with my first grandson, Gunnar, and making sure that he is eating right so that he will be one heck of a ball player one day, hopefully right here at Auburn. She and her husband, Jared, they could not be with us. That’s our immediate family, and we are all excited about joining the Auburn University baseball family and the athletics department family and the university family.
“A little bit about the decision to come here and be a part of this great institution and where I’ve been. It’s real simple. I found out very early that there is a commitment to win championships, and that’s what we are about. We’ve been very fortunate to do that. We’ve been very fortunate to win and be a part of a lot of championships. In the early ‘90s, I had the distinct pleasure of competing against Coach Hal Baird. One was in the ’94 College World Series. His Auburn baseball team had qualified. We were fortunate enough to win the national championship that year. I was an assistant on that Oklahoma Sooner baseball club. Then in ’95, Auburn University had to come to Oklahoma City for a very, very tough task in competing in the regional in Oklahoma City. I got to know, I got to observe, and I got to watch Coach Hal Baird. A true gentleman of the game. I’ve always admired him from afar. I had some brief conversations with Coach Baird and he told me an awful lot about it, but the most important thing is about the people that live here in Auburn, the people of Alabama and the commitment. We were very intrigued with the opportunity of coming and getting to meet the president and Jay Jacobs. We were very impressed. I know that the first opportunity when I came in, I got to meet Joe Beckwith, former player, and I really enjoyed getting to know Joe and his passion for the program, and Tim Hudson, and his passion and desire for Auburn baseball to be a winner and a champion. When I went back, I told my wife, ‘you are really going to love these people. I promise you. When you land in Auburn, you are going to find out what I already know. It’s about the people there. It’s about Jay Jacobs and just the feel that we have gotten from him. I want to work with him.’ That’s the bottom line. The commitment is there to win championships, and we are committed to do that. It’s going to be about going out and recruiting the best student-athletes we can find and coaching up our current student-athletes. I’m excited about doing that. As I’ve scouted a little bit, I’ve heard nothing but good things. There are some tremendous athletes on campus right now, and I know we are in a hotbed for baseball talent, and we are going to be able to bring those athletes and have them be student-athletes at Auburn University. Again, it just comes back to being excited. A lot of people have asked me about the SEC now and the reputation. I said that’s what we are looking forward to, with the SEC getting nine teams into the NCAA Tournament and two of those moving on to the NCAA College World Series this week. I won’t say we had the pleasure – we had the opportunity – of going to South Carolina last year for a Super Regional, and we competed, but they were at home. Their fans got after us pretty good, and they had a pretty good baseball team after winning back-to-back national championships. Ray Tanner is a very good friend of mine, and he’s helped me an awful lot in my career. Of course, now he has moved into the university’s athletic director position. Then, going into LSU this past week, our baseball team spent the last six weeks on the road. LSU had the advantage of competing well at home and playing what I would call a tired Oklahoma baseball team after six weeks on the road. I’m very proud of those young men that I am now moving on from and had the pleasure of coaching. I did say that getting to compete against those programs in-conference is very exciting. We are looking forward to that challenge. Bottom line is that we are very excited to be here.”
On recruiting base…
“When it comes to recruiting and it comes to the university, that was something that Jay and I talked about through the process. For me, it’s real simple. If you know baseball and you know talent and you have a proven university that young men desire to go to, it’s an easy fit. I will tell you this, we know Atlanta. We know the East Cobb League of course. There’s not a quality program in the United States that doesn’t. We have had athletes in the past from a previous stop, where we have recruited from Florida all the way to California. Now, as far as right here in this hotbed, it’s been tougher to pull them out of the SEC being in the Big 12. Now, being here at Auburn University, these young men are going to desire to come here and play at this university. It’s very simple. You drive around this campus, and I can only imagine what it’s going to be like on football game days, when we are recruiting them and bringing them in. Beautiful campus. Jay and I talked about this. You can have brick and mortar, you can spend a lot of money, you can have beautiful things, but if the people that are showing those things and the people that you are going to be working with aren’t also beautiful people, it won’t matter. That is where we’ve been most impressed. Beautiful people. The question about recruiting, it’s not going to be a problem. We are going to hit the ground with our feet running, and we are going to go out and we are going to win those battles. I love that part of the job. I love the chase. I love the competition. In my visits with Jay, I told him you win your NCAA bid and you win your championships in the summer and in the fall. In the spring time, you have the pleasure of watching them play. You might call a bunt or a hit and run, but your training has already been done. You stay after it and you stay focused on what you taught them. You’ve got to have the right athletes and the right character on the field doing that.”
On what confirmed that Auburn was the right move…
“The minute I met Jay Jacobs. The intrigue is because of the university. The intrigue is because of what Coach Baird had done here in the past. I had a couple of brief conversations with Coach Baird. When I met Jay, I knew there was a commitment to winning championships. Sometimes, when you sit down with people, you just hit it off and you know. I’m one of those people. I know in my gut. I know when to make a pitching change. I know when to call the hit and run. I’ll know when to lay down that bunt and when to make a move. We’ve been offered opportunities, I won’t get into the particular schools, but we’ve had the opportunity to come to the SEC in the past. It wasn’t the right time in life. We are about teaching life lessons, not just squaring up a baseball and not just about letting it fly defensively and getting on the mound and pounding the strike zone. Our student-athletes are going to understand that in their life and for the rest of their life, God has a plan and he has a flow to your life. Sometimes, you try to speed that up, and you get into some roaring rapids and you end up running into a waterfall. That’s not desirable, but you also don’t want to sit there on the side and be in stagnant water. So the time of life was perfect, and I know that God has had his hand on this move, and I also know that the destination for us it to be right here speaking with you at this time. I knew for sure once I met Jay Jacobs. I couldn’t get my family here quick enough to meet him.”
On his staff…
“I’ve got a couple of staff members that have made the trip with me here. They have got to make sure their family is on board before I actually announce them, but everything looks really good. You are only as good as the people around you, and we are going to make sure we are surrounded by quality people. Not just in our coaching staff, but in our support staff, our student-athletes, everyone, and make sure that everyone understands and buys in. Baseball and coaching baseball and the program is the system. It’s that simple. The system is solid, the system is proven and the system will win. It’s about discipline. It’s about commitment and it’s about passion and love for the game. I’ve not heard one umpire crawl back behind that plate and say ‘Work Ball,’ he says ‘Play Ball.’ We are very fortunate. We get to play and the coaches that are going to come are going to have a smile on their face and they are going to coach them up and teach them up. I’ve always said that players don’t necessarily want to know how much you know. You are not going to get the blessed opportunity to be the head baseball coach at Auburn University and be a part of this great community and this family, and Jay Jacobs is not going to give you that opportunity unless you know what you are doing. Those student-athletes trust the administration. They are going to know they have a coaching staff that knows. What they want to know is how much we care about them. That’s where we will make sure. I’ve never coached a player, when I go in and recruit and when my coaches go in, we aren’t going to lie to them and say we love you. We just met you. What we tell them is that within a year in our program, we are going to grow to love you and it’s going to be a lot of fun. We want them to come and be a part of our family, not just for the time they compete here, but for life.”
On his coaching philosophy…
“Pitching and defense are what wins championships. There is no doubt about that. Fortunately, we had that, but then you’ve got to be able to score some runs once that pitching and defense is shutting them down. That’s really where the game has changed. You have to change with the game. The student-athletes have also changed over the course of time. That’s one of the things that Coach Baird and I talked about. You know, in the old-school days, you didn’t have limitations, and if you wanted to practice for six hours, you could do that. We weren’t smart enough back in the ‘90s to understand that we were probably losing those student-athletes after the third or fourth hour. We were pretty much coaching that last hour for ourselves. You‘ve got to get them on the yard and make them understand it’s about today. It’s about what we need to do to be better today.
“It’s about pitching and defense, and to answer your question, we are going to put a lot of pressure on our opponents. We are going to have guys that can steal bases. We had a tremendous compliment and, at the time, I laughed about it. It’s by somebody that I respected in our conference. They called us at Oklahoma, the Cal State Fullerton of the Midwest. We are going to put a tremendous amount of pressure. The comment was, you don’t know what they are going to do or when they are going to do it, but they’re going to do it. That kind of sums it up. You don’t have to know how we are going to or when we are going to, but we are going to do it. We are going to keep you on your toes and make you play defense. We are going to make you pitch to beat us. There are philosophies that are going to be part of the system. When we are up, we are going to make you throw us out. If we are behind, we won’t take as many risks as far as trying to score that extra run at home. We will let the next guy drive us in. It’s all part of baseball. Baseball is a risk versus reward sport. You’ve got to teach your student-athletes that. Once they understand that and they grasp the concept and they understand that they are really one playing a team sport, because you’ve got one guy going to the plate.
“The last thing I will elaborate on that is with the mental toughness. You’ve got to be (mentally tough) to play this sport. Let’s think about it, you are going to fail seven out of 10 times at the plate. I don’t think Coach Malzahn is going to be ok with that if it’s our completion rate from our quarterbacks, and I know in basketball if our one and two are shooting at that rate, they are not going to be on the court very long. In baseball, that will sure get you into the Hall of Fame and the big leagues. If we’ve got nine guys getting that done in our lineup, we are going to win an awful lot of baseball games and an awful lot of championships. We’ve got to make sure our young men learn to deal with the small failures to have the team success and that’s about mental toughness. That’s about us being together. I’ll tell you, if you are having a bad day and you are 0-for-3 with three strike outs, the quickest way to get over that day is to turn around and encourage one of your teammates or congratulate one of your teammates that’s gone 2-for-3. Sure enough tomorrow, you are going to be the one going 2-for-3 and he’s going to be 0-for-3, but it will be a different group of guys. We’ve just got to have at least four or five out of our nine having a good day. We’ll have different guys that pick us up. We’ll have a couple of horses in there that surely won’t have off and on days too often. We’ll play it as a team and we will be mentally tough.”
On getting in touch with current players and recruits…
“We’ve got a really busy week ahead of us. I’m happy for Father’s Day coming up because I’ve been blessed with beautiful children and a great family. We will celebrate that day, but if that day were a month later it might be a little bit easier because I would leave right from here. The first order of business is to contact and to be able to get in front of every one of our current players. That’s important. They need to know exactly where I stand, and they need to know what I’m about, and they need to know how important they are to our baseball program. Then, the players that we have recruited are very important. They are scattered. They are playing in summer leagues. There is a lot of leg work that we are going to get done. That’s me getting a staff together to help me with that and that’s me being a very integral part of that right away. That will start on Monday, right after Father’s Day. Then we’ve got to go see the young guys. We’ve got to make sure we are out meeting the high school coaches and we are shaking hands and letting them know our philosophy and what we are about. We want them to be a part of our family and a part of our success down the road. I can’t get started soon enough, trust me. We will have a brief interruption for Father’s Day, that we will all celebrate and with that said, I love to tell the story about my little guy Callan. He’ll brag to you that he has the best dad ever, and I’ll brag to you that I have the best son ever. We don’t go to bed unless we say that. I want to make sure everybody is able to celebrate Father’s Day. It’s a great day. It’s the greatest job that I will ever have. Jay has given me a great job here, but my best job is being a father. I’m very fortunate and blessed with the children that I have.”
On how long it will take the program to get back to elite level…
“I won’t put a time table and I won’t pull a Jimmy Johnson, so to speak, and guarantee that we are going to go win the Super Bowl, but I will tell you that we are going to win and we are going to win quickly. I know of the history, recent history, and I know of the long-term history. It’s not so much about the past, other than talking to Coach Baird and knowing that it can be done. The system and what he did is proof that it can be done. The resources are in place, and it’s about moving forward. It’s about the future. I’ll tell you real simply, Mr. Jacobs came up here and spoke about the last whatever it was, 14 out of 15 regionals as a head coach. They were great times, and I’ll tell you about some great memories. The other thing I’ll tell you about is the one year we didn’t get in the NCAA and our RPI was 29. We deserved to get in. You don’t want to get me started there. We’re going to have a strong RPI, and we are going to represent the university in a first-class manner, and we are going to be deserving of playing in the NCAA Tournament.
“Again, it’s about winning championships. Our student-athletes from day one are going to understand, our first opportunity to go out and win a championship is to win the (SEC) West. That’s what we will seek. Then it’s about winning the SEC Tournament. We just came off of winning the Big 12, and there is a highlight of a freshman left fielder coming running in from left field, an outstanding young man, and you know I’ll miss him. He looks like he’s five years old chasing the ice cream truck, trying to get to the dogpile. I want to see some Auburn Tiger players chasing the ice cream truck, trying to get to the dogpile. Let’s put it that way. You’ve got opportunities to do it. You get opportunities to dogpile. You win your conference’s regular season championship. You win the SEC Tournament in Hoover, and you are going to get an opportunity to dogpile. You have to be careful because you are moving on to a regional, and you can’t get anybody hurt. You make sure your bigger catchers are at the bottom. There is an art to dogpiling. We had (pitcher) Jon Gray, the third pick in the draft. I told him at the regional in Blacksburg, when you go dogpile, put your hands on him and look behind you and when you see one coming, step aside and let him go by. You are about to get five million dollars, too. That’s the greatest pleasure that a coach will ever have is watching those young men.
“I tell our guys, you know when you hug your players? You hug your players when you win the championship. You shake their hand when they commit to come to your institution. You coach them up and you pat them on the back and awful lot. But when do you really hug and embrace? It is usually right after they are getting up off that dogpile, and you are asking them if they are ok or if they got hurt, but you are hugging them. We’ve gotten to hug our student-athletes an awful lot in the past and there is no better feeling than that. You are sweaty. You are smelly. You’re dirty. You are just hugging each other like crazy and we want to be able to hug our players an awful lot.”
On the interview process…
“We started the process of vetting some guys on the Tuesday after Memorial Day and reached out to a lot of smart baseball people and got us a list together. Certainly out of respect for those guys who were involved in this process, we aren’t going to talk about who we talked to or how many, but it was a very thorough process, and we had our goals of what we wanted to accomplish, and we’re very fortunate to be able to get our goals accomplished with Sunny.”
On hiring baseball coach Sunny Golloway and softball coach Clint Myers on the same day…
“We’re really looking forward to Coach Myers being here. Clint and Sunny know each other. We have a lot of wisdom in the room when those two guys come into the room, wisdom as far as what it takes to compete for championships and great teachers. Those are the two things, when I talked to those guys, that really resonated was that they were teachers – not just playing ball and doing things that we have to do to win, but teaching these young ladies how to be successful in the community and teaching these young men how to be successful as they move forward academically and in the community as well. Yesterday, it was a fun day. Meredith Jenkins, our senior woman administrator, headed up the search for Coach Myers, and she had a great process, and we had some great candidates apply for our softball position here, and we couldn’t be more thrilled than to have the entire Myers family become a part of the Auburn family. He, along with Sunny – and I think we can say this for all of our coaches – I think they are going to elevate everybody in the department, their desire to win, their proven success and the men of character they are and what they pour into their student-athletes, just like some of these coaches we have in the room. So, it was a great day for our student-athletes, it was a great day for this institution and certainly a great day for both of those sports.”
On the importance of hiring a coach from another BCS conference school…
“The goal wasn’t what league they came from. As you saw last week, our APR (Academic Performance Rate) is better than it’s ever been. Well, we think those student-athletes should also have, as Gary Waters says, a diploma in their hand and a ring on their finger, so we went after the top people we think give our current student athletes the chance to win championships, because that’s the only reason any of us who work in this Athletic Department are here – it’s for them. So we went after the best, and because some of the things that Coach Golloway said and some of the things Coach Myers has said – the attractiveness of Auburn University and a large part because of some of you here from the community, our values here and what it means to live here and raise your children here, that made this place very attractive to a lot of people. So, it wasn’t about BCS or anything like that. It was really about the quality of the person and having the chance to win championships and have a proven record. We couldn’t be more excited for our student-athletes and our community for the quality of people, not only as coaches, but also from character and integrity and part of the Auburn values. So we are certainly pleased to have them and can’t wait for Coach Myers to get here in the next week or so. He’s finishing up a camp there, he and his wife, Katie, and Casey and Cory, his sons, they’ll all be rolling in here sooner than later, and you all will enjoy them as much as you do Sunny and Charlotte and their family.”
On any discussion with Coach Golloway about facility upgrades….
“The clubhouse is being updated. We walked through it last night, and I see some of our current players here, and they know it’s past time to get it updated, so that starts next week updating that. A few years ago we did a master plan for each of our stadiums, so we have a plan to update our facilities, just the product on the field has to catch up. When we walked into the stadium, Sunny said, ‘this is really intimate.’ The place had a good feel to it, and it does from sitting in the stands, but the amenities underneath for the player development, we’ve got to come along with those types of things. We were walking around yesterday, and I was standing back and Charlotte said, ‘Well, his mind is going.’ He was walking through the facility and stepping off things, and I just stayed back out of the way and let him put a mental picture of what the facility should look like, so I’m sure as time moves along we will see some changes over there, and I am excited about them.”
On what was different about this coaching search compared to when he hired John Pawlowski…
“It’s really night and day, the pool of candidates. I think that everybody realizes the strength of Auburn University and where we are as a national brand to be able to recruit, our academic success. They know what our deans and our professors and our Provost’s office, what they all do academically. That resonates across the country, because we had people from all across the country interested in both of these positions. Well, it’s obvious with Clint coming from Arizona State, with a commitment not only to be successful in the classroom but also on the field. People know that’s where we are because when we talk to them, that’s what we talk about. We talk about we can accomplish all five of our goals here: winning, doing it the right way, balancing our budget, having a great game day experience and graduating our student-athletes. It was a completely different pool of people, and we couldn’t have selected two better yesterday than we possibly did. I’m as proud of Auburn as I’ve ever been because it really sells itself these days, and it will continue to do that with the quality and the caliber of coaches that we have coming in.”
On any surprise he had about Coach Myers wanting the job coming from such a successful program…
“You learn that there aren’t many things that surprise you these days, but when we found out there may be an interest there and we started talking about that, it was really obvious that our values here at Auburn University and the Athletic Department match up with him and Katie, his wife, and what they want to accomplish. Maybe at the first it may have been a little bit (surprising) – a guy who has been to eight Super Regionals, been to seven Women’s College World Series and won two national championships. But when you start talking to the man and the family about how what he wants to accomplish matches up with what we want to accomplish here on and off the field, that moved along pretty quickly, and there were other great candidates that matched up as well.”
On how the process started with Coach Golloway…
“Because of what all of you do, you hear a lot about people who are interested, you hear a lot about people that you think are interested and then you hear a lot about people who say they are interested, but they really are not. You get information from different ways and then you do what we do. We reach out to the institution and tell them what we would like to do and move along. Like we always do, go in the front door.”