Owning Omaha: Ray Tanner’s journey to the top

 

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USC photo

Owning Omaha: Ray Tanner on the journey to the top

Ray Tanner is a three-time National Coach of the Year and Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year. He completed his 15th season as head coach at the University of South Carolina in 2011 when the Gamecocks became the ninth repeat champion in College World Series History. South Carolina was the first team in history to go an unblemished 10-0 in NCAA Tournament play. Inside Pitch recently caught up with Tanner to discuss fundamentals, family, and fandom.

Inside Pitch: Was it always a goal of yours to have a career coaching college baseball?

Ray Tanner: I really didn’t have any goals set going into my first coaching position. Like a lot of younger players, I’d had aspirations of playing at the next level, but when I realized I may have not had the tools to be really successful at the professional level, I began to think about the possibility of coaching, and it turned out to be a really great fit for me. As much as I loved to play, when I got into coaching, I knew that I had found a true passion. Continue reading

Butch Thompson interview

butchthompsonCoaching journey…

I’m from Mississippi so it’s been pretty neat being here at Mississippi State. It’s kind of come full-circle, because I’m from Amory, Mississippi. I’ve just been fortunate to be around great people, I know three of the four head coaches I’ve worked for have been national coaches of the year.

The first one was Brian Shoop at Birmingham Southern, who I probably spent ten years with as a player and a coach. He’s now an assistant coach at UAB. He’s probably been the biggest influence on my life- not just with baseball, spiritually as well- he’s been kind of like a dad to me. I think he’s one of our best coaches in the country. He prepared me, and when we won the 2001 NAIA National Championship, I had the opportunity to go to Georgia with David Perno, and that was all because of Coach Shoop and Daron Schoenrock, who was my pitching coach in college.

I was at Georgia through 2005 and had a chance to go be with Tom Slater at Auburn from 2006-8 before coming to Mississippi State with John Cohen.

You can trace everything back to one degree of separation: John Cohen played at Mississippi State and Brian Shoop was an assistant at that point under Ron Polk. John and I had never worked together until I got here, and I’m just thankful he gave me the opportunity to come back home.

Every “break” that I’ve caught is from being around really good people, because of relationships and people being good to me. In business or any other profession, it’s about being around people that are better than me. Les Brown is a great motivational speaker, and he said “if I’m the smartest man in the group, I need to get a new group,” and I’ve never been the smartest in my group!

Pitching philosophy… Continue reading

Understanding the new RPI

The Rating Percentage Index (RPI) was adopted by the NCAA many years ago with the intent to rank teams based on their strength of schedule. Recommended changes to the RPI formula have been approved by the Division I Baseball Committee and will take effect at the start of the 2013 season. It will still be calculated using three statistical parameters:

  • Division I winning percentage (25%)
  • Opponent’s Division I winning percentage (50%)
  • Opponents’ opponents’ Division I winning percentage (25%)

The new formula will value each home win as 0.7 and each road victory as 1.3, a change from the customary 1.0 of the past. Conversely, each home loss will be weighted as 1.3, and each road loss will count 0.7 against a team’s RPI.

Neutral site games will continue to be weighted the same value of 1.0.

The new method is not quite as extreme as basketball’s (1.4 for home losses and road wins, 0.6 for home wins and road losses), but the overriding factor with baseball is that the vast majority of games are played outside. Further, baseball schedules are also filled with three-game series as opposed to single games against opponents.

“To be honest the whole thing is a little confusing to me, we just try to go out and win every game we play,” said Clemson head coach Jack Leggett. “They showed us what it would be with the new RPI and what is was before and it wasnt that big of a difference.”

Leggett is right; in 2011, Clemson finished ranked No. 7 in the RPI, and would have stayed there if the new RPI had already been implemented. For the most part, “southern” schools from BCS conferences weren’t affected by the change. So who was?

The adjusted winning percentage was exemplified in a breakdown of 2011 RPI’s in college baseball. Inside Pitch researched the breakdown and found the following facts: Continue reading

Omaha through the years

photo by Lou Pavlovich, Collegiate Baseball

1980 national champion Arizona Wildcats
photo by Lou Pavlovich, Collegiate Baseball

Year- 1950
Total attendance- 17,805 (Rosenblatt Stadium)
Participating teams- Alabama, Bradley, Colorado State, Rutgers, Texas, Tufts, Washington State, Wisconsin
Most outstanding player- Ray VanCleef, Rutgers (Texas won title)

Year- 1980
Total attendance- 95,406 (Rosenblatt Stadium)
Participating teams- Arizona, California, Clemson, Florida State, Hawaii, Miami (Fl.), Michigan, St. Johns
Most outstanding player- Terry Francona, national champion Arizona

Year- 2011
Total attendance- 321,684 (TD Ameritrade)
Participating teams- California, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia
Most outstanding player- Scott Wingo, national champion South Carolina