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June 18, 2010
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. From my right to left, you will see Tim Esmay from Arizona State, Jack Leggett from Clemson University, Sunny Galloway from Oklahoma, and Ray Tanner from South Carolina.
Coach Esmay, could you give us your opening thoughts?
COACH ESMAY: What an honor for Arizona State to be playing in the College World Series, but also because of the last year at Rosenblatt, such storied games, such storied players have come through here, and it's really exciting that we have this opportunity to be a part of this thing and looking forward to it. And with the three teams that are in our bracket, man, it should set up to be a heck of a ride. It should be a real fun series for the fans. I don't know necessarily if it will be a lot of fun for us coaches, but we're going to try to go out and enjoy this.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll move on to Jack Leggett of Clemson. Coach, good morning. Could we get your opening thoughts, please?
COACH LEGGETT: We're extremely excited to bring our team here to Rosenblatt Stadium and Omaha. Exciting time of year for all the teams in the tournament, and to be one of the top eight teams, or one of the final eight teams is an honor. We're excited about being -- I look at it from the outside looking in as we've got a very tough bracket in a very tough tournament. A lot of good teams. Watched a lot of them on TV. And obviously the team that gets hot this time of year has got a good chance to win the national championship. It's a great honor to be here.
Fortunate many, many years ago to come here as a player, and to be here as a coach before, I know how special it is to be. To be here in the last year of Rosenblatt Stadium makes it even greater. Our kids are very excited about being here and very proud of what they've done in the latter part of the season. We know we have a tough task ahead of us with the teams that play in our bracket. And very excited about being part of the Omaha experience for the last time here in Rosenblatt Stadium.
THE MODERATOR: Oklahoma Coach Sunny Galloway leads the Sooners. Coach Galloway, good morning. Welcome to Omaha. Opening thoughts, please.
COACH GALLOWAY: On behalf of the student-athletes representing the University of Oklahoma baseball program, our administration and support staff in the proud tradition of the Oklahoma Sooners baseball program, we're extremely happy to be here in Rosenblatt Stadium's last year.
It's almost a little surreal when you think about it. And I think it probably is for all the coaches and student-athletes, knowing the great tradition of Rosenblatt Stadium and having been here in the '90s as a young assistant and getting to see a team, a '94 team dogpile and being on that field, it really hit me, I think, after we won the Super Regional championship game in a post-game interview, and they were talking about this being the last year. And it got to be kind of an emotional moment, as I know it is for all of the participants this week. So we're just excited to be here.
We feel truly blessed. I think that fortune has clearly shined on the teams that are here, because there are thousands of student-athletes deserving of this opportunity and many, many coaches that have worked tireless hours to get here. We're the fortunate ones to get to sit before you today, just like on the other bracket.
I echo Jack's sentiments about how tough our side of the bracket is. We've got some hot baseball teams and some outstanding student-athletes participating, and it will be a battle to get through our side. Everyone understands that.
When you're around the game long enough, you realize it's not just being prepared and trained and doing the right things, there's a lot of luck involved. And you know, we hope luck's on our side. We hope our guys are prepared and ready to go. We think that we are. And we're just blessed, fortunate to be here and looking forward to competing this week.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll move on to Ray Tanner. Coach, welcome to Omaha. Opening thoughts, please.
COACH TANNER: Of all the great things that happened with the NCAA and BCS Bowls and Final Fours, it's hard for me to imagine that there's a greater championship than the College World Series in Omaha. The city of Omaha and the NCAA, it's just such a wonderful event. Not having been a part of the other things that I mentioned, this is so special. It's more than just a championship. It's about the atmosphere. It's about the environment.
There's going to be a champion crowned here, but we all feel great about who we are and our players and coaches. We're excited. And on behalf of our players at the University of South Carolina to be a part of this, it's one of those deals that you're excited but you're just very grateful. You pinch yourself for being a part of such a storybook that will close the chapter at Rosenblatt, and it's really just great to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Once again we would ask that when you ask a question to please give your name, your affiliation. Who your question is directed to and your question. And please wait for the microphone before asking the question?
Q. Jack, could you kind of recount your playing days here at the World Series? Is there any particular memory that stands out, and then also the times you've come back here as a coach?
COACH LEGGETT: Well, absolutely. The great thing about the Omaha experience and playing in the College World Series it's indelible in your mind forever.
I can remember the scores we lost to Eastern Michigan 3 to 2. They ran a pick off play at second base with the bases loaded, nobody out. Took a guy named Bob Owchinko out who was a third round pick, third pick in the draft, and brought in a guy named Bob Welch to finish off the inning that nobody knew about. He was a sophomore at the time. Picked a guy off at second at the beginning of the game, at the beginning of the inning, struck out two more guys, lost 3 to 2, came back and beat Auburn 9 to 8 and Washington State 6-3 and lost to Arizona State 7-0.
I can remember the players they had on Arizona State's team. They had 13 kids drafted on that team and three of them didn't make the travel squad to Omaha. Bob Horner was playing and Ricky Peters was playing. Gary Allenson, guy named Westlake at first base, Bob Pate in left field. Kenny Landrel. Outstanding team. Floyd Bannister was the number one pitcher taken that year.
Tremendous experience. I remember staying at the hotel. At that time they picked us up in these yellow school buses and brought us to the ballpark. And still got some great pictures, and of course the stadium didn't look anything like it does now.
And I remember all the games. I remember the excitement of coming to Omaha and playing. We came from the University of Maine, and when we faced Bob Welch, he was throwing about 95. It was night ball game. We hadn't played a night ball game all year long. It looked like a meteor was attached to the ball in the back of it. I took three of the best cuts I ever took in my life. I still can't believe they didn't go out. But didn't make any contact.
But just a great experience, and I remember everything about it. And Bobo Brayton was coaching at Washington State at the time. And John Winkin was our coach who is going to be out here this week. And tried to portray that to our players all along, how special it is as a player. You just never forget about it.
I got 79 text messages after our Super Regional win and a lot of them were from former players. One of them struck home with me from Adrian Casanova, said, Coach, just tell these kids how important it is -- actually the morning of our Super Regional final. He says, Tell them that for the rest of their lives, people will be asking them what was it like in Omaha if you get a chance to go there.
So it's a great experience. It's even more exciting, I guess you could say, to bring your team here as a coach. And I know these coaches have been here in different capacities. And Ray has been here as a head coach before. And I think Sunny and Tim have been here as assistant coaches.
And we all have storied programs but to bring your players here and to kind of understand the fruits of your labors all pays off and have your kids walk in the stadium yesterday and see and take the pictures and understand that this place is real, that I've been talking about for so long, it was an exciting experience for us.
Very excited about bringing our team here. Very proud of the fact that we played pretty good baseball down the stretch. And but we know we've got a great, great challenge ahead of us. I'm very excited about being here in that capacity as well.
Q. Question for all of you. Enlighten us on maybe what's the post speed of your team? What's a defining personality trait of your team that you find very positive from fall camp through the regular season that you admire a lot about your student-athletes.
COACH ESMAY: I think, obviously, I think with our club is the ability to handle adversity and handle situations and stay pretty focused and pretty directed. The old cliche one pitch at a time, one play at a time, our team is definitely that type of team. They've handled everything that's been thrown at them. They've been thrown every type of behind, ahead, extra innings.
And they just keep playing the game of baseball. And this team loves to play the game. This is a team that just loves -- it's like playing whiffle ball. That's how they approach it. They just love to play?
COACH LEGGETT: First of all, I'd like to say I've seen all three of these teams play. I've played against Ray's team obviously during the year. They play very, very tough all the time. Outstanding program. And I've seen the other teams play on TV.
And I agree with Tim, they're very aggressive teams. They're all playing very well right now. I think I would say that about our team. We hit a lull in the middle of the season, didn't play very well for about a month. Maybe a little longer than that. We did not play very well. And we weathered that storm, handled that adversity. That's what I'm most proud about this team.
We could have gone down in a different direction, but we continued to work hard, be positive, and kids bounce back. So I guess that would be the best trait that I would want our team to ever have, and that would be the ability to handle adversity, and be able to keep battling, be very competitive all the time.
So I like that about our team right now. And not anything -- we've got some good offensive players, but we've got our holes like everybody else does, and so I hope our attitude can overshadow those things.
COACH GALLOWAY: Well, I think ours would echo the same as the first two teams. There's some mental toughness. And the chemistry of our ball club has been very good. I think it's a lesson for the coaches. We lose nine players to the draft last year. We lost seven juniors that were highly drafted, and a lot of people talked about rebuilding and that we would be down and all of this.
And none of our players had any of that. We had some young players waiting in the wing that got to play behind some great players last year. Tyler Ogle, our catcher, was behind J.T. Wise won the Johnny Bench award and was the MVP last year, for example. And those guys seemed to be just waiting in the wings and learning and paying attention, which is good. Then we have some young guys that have either transferred in through junior college or true freshmen, really contributing. And so I think that's been a great lesson for our coaching staff that, you know what, you just get them on the yard and they play hard.
When they play together and they understand collectively that that's really what it's about, you know. If they pitch around one guy, the next guy's got an opportunity. If we've got runners at second and third and we punched out, I hear the guy coming back to the dugout even though he's disappointed, talking to his teammate about picking the team up. And we have really pushed that about, collectively, we're going to make somebody stand on the mound and beat us and, collectively, it's going to take some pretty good hits here and there.
And last but not least, I think respect for the game. I think any teams that get to Omaha have done a great job respecting the game, which means respecting your opponent, the abilities of your opponent, the way that the ball bounces sometimes, taking the good with the bad and understanding that there's no difference between the 1st inning or the 9th inning. It's been documented. We've won like 27 times coming from behind.
And we truly believe that if you want to score more in the 1st inning, that's fine, that might potentially be a comfort zone. But the wins are found, if you really score the most runs in the 9th, 7th, 8th, 9th innings. So I think our chemistry and our mental toughness has been really good to get us here.
COACH TANNER: Our team never has been a great team throughout the entire season. We've never been a bad team either. I think we've been kind of steady. We've stayed the course. We don't have a lot of high draft picks. We're not the big and sexy team. I think it's a team that really has confidence.
They're not arrogant. They just believe in themselves. They think we'll find a way. We certainly respect our opponents. We try to do great scouting reports as a coaching staff. I'm not sure they listened to that a lot. They really try not to get immersed in things they can't control.
They try to play who they are. We've been kind of labeled this year as a pitching and defense team. Although, we got here with a three-run homer. So it's been an interesting group. They have a lot of fun. They don't get too upset even when I do. It doesn't seem to bother them a whole lot.
That's good. I always talk about perspective and respecting your opponents and trying not to play against the game and stay level. And they've done a good job of that.
We trailed in all three of our regional games. We were able to come back. We had a rain delay in our first regional game, which was excruciating for me. We were down 5 to 1 during the rain delay, and I think they turned the lights out in the locker room. I found out later that they had a little seance in there. They were having fun. I wasn't having a lot, but they were having a good time trying to figure out how to score runs.
So it's been a great group to be around. I'm not sure we're as talented as any of the teams up here, but I don't know that our guys will let that bother them. They'll just play like they can and hope we find a way.
Q. Coach Leggett, not only have you played here and coached here, now you have an assistant, former assistant coach here in Kevin O'Sullivan. Have you talked to him and are you excited are you for him and Florida to be here?
COACH LEGGETT: I'm very excited for Kevin. He's had a great year. Their team won their division. He's SEC coach of the year, if I'm not mistaken. He had a great year with his team from the start of the season to the end of the season. He was with us for nine years at Clemson. One of my very closest friends. Tremendous competitor, great worker.
He got his team playing very well. His program is right where it needs to be. And so I'm very proud of what he's got going. And proud to see him out here in Omaha. Saw him last night a little bit before the coaches' meeting, and he's been here a couple times, two or three times with us at Clemson as an assistant coach. So he knows the routine. And very excited for him.
Another guy that's got a little Clemson connection is Jim Schlossnagle, who was a graduate assistant. When I was assistant coach at Clemson in the early '90s, he was a graduate assistant and then went off to Tulane and then to UNLV and then TCU. So he's done a tremendous job with his program as well. And very proud for him and his assistant coach, Randy Mazey, who played at Clemson as well.
So some good connections. Certainly proud of how they're all doing. It's always hard to play against real good close friends, but hopefully we have a chance, a chance down the road. But a lot of things would have to happen in order for that to work out.
Q. Coach Tanner, you talked about having a veteran ball club throughout this season and the way they've been able to step up as leaders, having coaches on the field as you've called them in the past. But in the regional and Super Regionals, some freshmen stepped up big for you. Certainly Evan Marzilli and your decision to go with him and Matt Price and the way he's emerged out of the bullpen and certainly Christian Walker's three-run home run. Those decisions, those were real button pushers for you, but didn't seem as if you were surprised that these kids were able to step up in this situation.
COACH TANNER: Well, they're talented players. Sometimes it takes a while to get into that comfort zone. We were at the end of the year, so they'd been in there. They played some. They sat on the bench some as well. But I go back to the veteran players. I think that's where it starts and ends.
Those guys get them comfortable. They get them familiar with what we go through and eventually they start to relax and perform a little bit. And they came up big at the right time for us. But I go back to crediting the older players with helping those guys get in that position.
Q. Jack, just a quick follow-up on Kevin O'Sullivan. What were some of the traits you saw in him that would maybe make him an effective coach down the road, when he worked with you?
COACH LEGGETT: Tireless worker, great recruiter. Very good knowledge of the whole game of baseball, even though he was our pitching coach at Clemson for nine years.
He was very knowledgeable in all aspects of the game, whether it be base running or hitting or the bunt game or whatever it might defensively. Very good background in baseball. Excellent recruiter, evaluator, talent. Motivator, tremendous competitor. Those are words I would use to describe him. And very loyal and tough frame of mind.
Q. Sunny and Ray, Sunny, you've got the sons of couple former Major Leaguers on your team. What do kids like that bring to a team? Do they bring maybe a little different experience? And Ray, I'd like you to address that as well.
COACH GALLOWAY: We've been asked a lot of questions about Cam Seitzer and Garrett Buechele with their dads, with the success they had and both coaching professionally now. I've always said that those guys are deserving of an awful lot of credit.
You're talking about people that know the game of baseball. I realize that since we all played little league, seems like everybody's an expert, but these guys might be.
And you know what, they've done a great job. You need to understand, when Garrett Buechele came to us, he came to us as a young man that walked on. And we were very honest, up front. We said like physically you've got to mature and get in the weight room and we want to red shirt you the first year. We won't make that decision until after fall.
And they were very supportive of that. I don't think that they liked it, but they were supportive, because they felt we had Garrett's best interests at heart. And then the next year he goes out and he's the Big 12 freshman of the year. Easily you could have come back and said, hey, he might have been ready last year being the Big 12 freshman of the year this year. That was never done.
Those guys have been great. I've always said this, when you have the experience of baseball and you have a voice in baseball -- let's not kid ourselves, professional and especially the Division I level, there's a huge cross-over as far as the circles and the scouting and the comments and the things that are said and done and known, that it could be a tricky, slippery type of ground there if things aren't done right.
So I'm very proud of the dads. I'm very proud of Steve and Kevin, how they've supported not only their own son, but all the student-athletes. When they've come around, they've just been one of the guys. It's been a lot of fun and they've allowed their sons to be college student-athletes. They've done it the right way.
And I always conclude when asked about that, I say, make no bones about it, it sometimes can get ugly. If you have that kind of knowledge, you don't like what's going on, you've got a voice.
And it wasn't always easy for those guys. They earned it. They came in. They weren't given anything. So I just think that that's a great example for others down the road of the right way to do it. And they're the two student-athletes that have been nothing but terrific. I mean, those guys are very loved by their teammates and they're just one of the guys and they don't think they expect anything more than anybody else just because of the name on their back.
COACH TANNER: As you know, you guys have been in our region, I believe in genes. I've recruited some student-athletes whose fathers played in college and got a chance to play professional baseball. Maybe not to Seitzer and Buechele's status, but I believe in that and I think that's a big advantage. I've watched those guys a little bit. I was a big fan of the fathers. I watched them play at Texas and Kansas City, and I think that there is an advantage there. And we used the word perspective earlier. Those guys have been around the game a lot. And I think it helps them a great deal.
When things maybe do not go as well as they want it to, when they're trying to perform, I think that is a big advantage. I know it's helped some of my players going through that. We're looking forward to playing against those guys, and I know they're great players and we hope to do well against them.
Q. Ray, how is Blake's hand physically, and is that just a total fluke that that happened, a guy who pitched the same day winds up getting hit by a foul ball?
COACH TANNER: I think he's fine. He seemed to be. For those who may not know. Blake Cooper pitched the first game of the Super Regionals. He came out of the game, and he was in the dugout, icing and doing the things you do. And there was a foul ball hit sharply into our dugout. It went passed me I didn't flinch because I'm not quick enough to flinch. But it went passed me. It's going to hit him in the head. He throws his hand up and deflects it. Of course, it's his pitching hand. I said, okay, there we go, didn't get hit in the head but his hand may be broke.
We x-rayed it. He took a few days and he seemed to feel very good. Before we came out here, he was excited about it, because he did have some swelling. But he was excited that he thought he was fine. And he threw his bullpen a couple days later and he seems to be good to go. So we're very fortunate from that aspect.
Q. Could you just comment on whether or not you've chosen your starter for Game 1?
COACH ESMAY: That will be Seth Blair.
COACH LEGGETT: We'll pitch Casey Harmon.
COACH GALLOWAY: Michael Rocha, he started our past three weekends in post-season. He'll start out for us.
COACH TANNER: We'll start Blake Cooper.
COACH GALLOWAY: You sure he doesn't need two more days' rest? (Laughter)
COACH ESMAY: Now that I heard who you're starting I'm going to change that, and I'm going to go Mike Leake.
Q. Ray and Sunny, the match-up for this first game seems to be, you guys have a lot of left-handed hitters, right-handed pitching. How do you see that playing out in this ballpark?
COACH TANNER: Yesterday we went over to Boys Town, got some batting practice. We came by first and the flags were going straight out. We're not starting the game if the flags are going straight out. We're going to delay the action.
But I watched especially their last game. Imposing offensive team, no question about it. And they seem to be hitting the stride at the right time. It's going to be very difficult for us.
You've got to make pitches. No question location is going to be very important, because those guys will do some damage up and down the lineup. And Ren and his barrage of homers at UVA. I was always told it's hard to hit home runs at UVA. They were flying out of there.
Just a great challenge. No question about it. And hopefully Blake will be at his best. Otherwise, it will be a long day for us.
COACH GALLOWAY: That was the thing about Virginia. We couldn't wait to get to Charlottesville to find out. I wanted to look at the ballpark. We're big on checking the flags. And one side of the play to the other, we want guys to have command of both sides and sometimes pound one side more than the other, and then offensively do things based on that sometimes.
But we watched NBP and the ball was flying. It wasn't just flying for us. They hit their fair share and we saw the weekend before that where St. Johns had hit some big home runs. And that ballpark, it played long ball the last couple of weeks. I can't explain why. I don't know that we had so much to do with that.
But when you think about we know we're matching up against a really outstanding starting pitcher, one that's been tested for sure in a very tough conference. And we faced that, of course, last week in Danny, Virginia's number one guy. It was a great ball game and Rocha matched him. But we just came up one short. Even though we hit some home runs, we got to lay the ball on the carpet, we got to play our game.
And what we'll try to do is we're going to try to play the game according to what happens in the game and hope we have enough tools to do that. And we have tremendous respect. We've done the scouting. We realize that South Carolina's going to be able to put some pressure on us, to score some runs. And at this time of year, just defend the ball game. Whatever happens, don't panic, defend it. It is what it is, is our philosophy. We deal with it. I think it's got a chance, like all the first match-ups, just to be terrific.
And what you do hope -- and I do mean this sincerely -- is that all the student-athletes, it's the first couple innings and the jitters, and you don't want that to take away from any team and the student-athletes. And if they can get in there and settle in and get dirty quick enough and a little sweaty, they're going to play really well.
Q. Coach Esmay, you joke about Mike Leake, but obviously losing a guy who goes straight to the Major Leagues is not an easy thing to replace. Can you talk about that, and also not having Josh Spence this year and what his involvement with you has been able to be when he's been hurt and how Seth Blair has stepped into that role?
COACH ESMAY: I mean, obviously Mike Leake's proven that he was a pretty special young man to do what he's doing, to go right from pitching the College World Series last year to making a big league club and doing well. That just shows very talented.
The other side of it is Josh Spence, unfortunately, was injured. But I will tell you this, going into the season, being around Seth Blair, I've always felt like we had Friday A and Friday B.
So Seth Blair has been in the program long enough. He allowed himself to learn and watch Mike Leake prepare himself and watch what it was like to be the guy. And I felt going into this season that Seth Blair was going to be ready for that position. And he's proven that. He's proven day in and day out that experience and knowledge and having that and being able to apply it is what he's done.
So tremendous, tremendous year for Seth Blair. Tremendous what he's done. Tremendous growing-up process. It's been fun to watch. From a freshman spot guy to a sophomore who was our Sunday guy that everybody kind of forgot about because you did have Mike Leake going on Friday and you had Josh Spence going on -- and so kind of he's been kind of laying low in the weeds, and this was his year, this was his moment.
And the great thing about Arizona State is there's a lot of talented players in that clubhouse. There's a lot of talented guys. They all rise up when you get your opportunity. And Seth Blair took that opportunity and said, all right, I'll be our Friday guy, let's go. And I've been very excited with him.
Josh has been around the program. Obviously he was trying to get in rehab and trying to get himself set and ready to go. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out for him.
Q. Sunny, I wanted to ask you about what do you know about South Carolina's lineup, in particular Jackie Bradley, and, Jack, I wanted to get a comment from you about what Jackie does for their ball club.
COACH GALLOWAY: Well, in our scouting in South Carolina, we realize there's some guys in there that can hit the ball a long ways. And you know, I think this time of year, you look at guys and you look at the home runs. When you see anything like six or seven or eight, those still -- they don't have to be 10 or 15 or some of the numbers we've seen in some of these clubs, because the adrenalin's flowing.
I know this, we started out a game at Charlottesville and the first guy hit the ball a long ways. The adrenalin was flowing, the pitch was up, adrenaline was flowing, the barrel got out quick. That's the 8th home run of the year. He just hit it like he's hit 20 something.
We respect the guys at South Carolina's lineup that hit the ball a long ways. And I think the balance that we see in there probably presents the greatest challenge. There's not really a guy we see in there that we would pitch around to get to another guy, if the game happens to find itself on the line there. It's going to be a dicy situation for us.
And sometimes I think those are the ones that cause you to lose the sleep the most. And what Ray said is where we're at. I mean, as coaches, we spend a lot of time. It's probably more for us than anything. We do call every pitch out of the dugout.
But we don't want our guys worried about that stuff. Our guys realize that the coaches are going to have them pitch to their strength and based on the environment, if the wind's blowing in, wind's blowing out, what's going on. Zones, all of that type of stuff. And just go out and compete hard. But it is a very balanced lineup.
COACH LEGGETT: Couple observations for Jackie Bradley. To me, he's one of the best players we've played against. The kids were talking about it the other day. And they sit around the batting cages talking about some of the kids they've played. Got a lot of respect for him.
We saw him earlier in the season when he just came off with a hamate problem. Within a week or two, whatever it was, it was incredible, he was back in the lineup. My thought was let's try to pound him in, he can't be able to turn on the ball. Next thing you know, he's hitting the ball and turning on pitches. I think just before that they played in a tournament up in East Carolina. He'd gotten in the game as a pinch hitter and turned on one, somebody told us he was able to swing the bat like he was.
So that was incredible to see how fast he came back from that. And really plays well in center field. Don't overlook his defense. He can run balls down that you think might end up in a good place for you. And he plays hard. And I think he fits very well into the makeup of what South Carolina's got.
I've seen South Carolina every year since I've been here. And Ray's done a great job with this team, because they don't have the Justin Smoak and Havens, Reese Havens and Darnell and those guys. They really had some strong, strong players.
But I think this team is playing very well as a team. And I think they kind of, like did what we did, kind of rode the course of the season. Had some ups and downs here and there, but kept on battling. So I watched their games against Coastal Carolina, and they had to battle to win. And Jackie Bradley is a big part of that. He's a very tough out. And he's one of those guys you really don't want to see come to the plate with the game on the line.
Q. Coach Galloway and Coach Esmay. Coach Galloway, when there were reports circulating about your school and the other schools in the Big 12 going to the Pac-10, was that a distraction for your team and, if so, how did you handle it. And Coach Esmay, what was your reaction when you heard that schools like Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, all these baseball powers, were possibly going to come to the Pac-10?
COACH GALLOWAY: At first, of course, we hear, because we're looking at the ESPN ticker for scores around. So for our student-athletes, I addressed it one time and I addressed it simply that we're very fortunate as student-athletes and coaches that we're at a school like the University of Oklahoma where we have the leadership of our president, David Boren, and our vice president in charge of our -- and director of athletics, Joe Castiglione. That gave us, as coaching staff, tremendous comfort that when the dust settles, everything is going to be as it should be and you'll be where you should be.
But I will tell you this, as all the stuff, it was funny. After we got back from Charlottesville, I was going back and reading all the newspapers that were stacked up there that your neighbor collects for you, and it was almost amazing to me. I didn't realize how that thing really rode itself out, so to speak. And that's because I think -- and I think all the coaches would agree with this -- you just kind of -- you just kind of get in the old foxhole and it's you and your guys, especially when you're on the road, it's you against the world when you go on the road in a Super Regional. We just didn't -- we probably didn't have very much information. And it was good for us not to.
We were in battle mode and we stayed there, and by the time we got back from Charlottesville, really, the dust had settled. So I thought it was a good thing for our student-athletes. To be honest with you, probably had more football student-athletes and basketball coaches and other coaches paying a lot more attention to it than the baseball team from the University of Oklahoma.
COACH ESMAY: I agree with Sunny on that. You try to get your club and your kids to stay in the moment. You can only control what you can control. So yes, it was kind of exciting to hear the opportunities of what might happen.
Because obviously the programs you talk about that might have had that opportunity were very storied and very tough baseball teams. But at the same sense, we were right in the middle of doing what everybody else is trying to do and trying to lock in on Arkansas.
If you saw any of those games, we had to be locked in. So that part of it, you know, maybe came through my head about maybe five minutes. And then if it happened and that was -- and they decided that's what was going to be the situation, then we would have dealt with it and been very excited but in the same sense been in a situation where you're dealing with Sunny Galloway coming to your ballpark and you've got Augie, it would have been a good situation.
But I'll tell you something that it's not going to stop Arizona State from wanting to play Oklahoma or wanting to play Texas or Clemson or South Carolina, because that's the beauty about college baseball, is any opportunity you can get teams that can prepare you to be in this position right now, we're going to continue to do that.
Q. Coach Esmay, you came as a player with Coach Brock. You came as an assistant. You were here the year he passed away. You've been here the three years recently. What's it feel like sitting up here as a head coach doing what you saw Coach Brock do, Coach Gustafson, et cetera? You've got a lot of history here. What's it feel like to bring your own team here?
COACH ESMAY: I'll tell you the first thing I'm not doing is running the team at Bellevue High School for three hours like Coach Brock did. I'll never forget that.
I was kind of laughing when Jack was talking about his experiences, because you don't forget that. You never forget the capability of playing in Rosenblatt. And I remember playing Oklahoma State here, getting here and Robin Ventura was in his hitting streak. Hit a ground ball in the 1st inning and for some reason it stuck in my glove and I flipped it to Mike Benjamin. We turned a double play. The great player I am, I started popping off to Ventura, and telling him you're not that 56-game streak. You've got to be kidding me. And then three at-bats later, he's standing on second base after his third double and he looked at me and goes, the streak continues. That's a memory I'll never forget.
Obviously Coach Brock was a huge influence in my life, and he gave me the opportunity when I was done playing, was very honest and very sincere when he said, you're 5'2". You can't run. You can't hit. So why don't you -- if you want to stay in the game of baseball, why don't you stay and I see you being a coach.
And he gave me that opportunity to stay at Arizona State and become a coach at a very young age. And, boy, what a difference, because as a player it's so different than being -- as a player you worry about yourself. As a coach, you worry about 40 guys and what they're doing.
And he really taught me and gave me some great insight. And that's a big reason why I'm sitting here today. And it's kind of surreal. But I'm very thankful that he gave me that opportunity, number one, to be a student-athlete. Number two, to get my degree. And number three, to get my degree in coaching. And that's a big deal.
THE MODERATOR: Coaches, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts