Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle
On his thoughts on Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park
One of the things that attracted me to the position is not just where the baseball program is, and what has been done in the past. But much more about what it can be and part of that is expanding the facility and making it the place to be. No disrespect to Starkville, Mississippi, but if the city can deliver 12-15,000 baseball fans to a city of 25,000, that’s great. That said, we can definitely get to that point here since we’re so close to metropolitan areas and College Station is a bigger city. That is my vision as a coach and together with Rosss (Bjork). There are many things I want to do in the near future. Improve both the atmosphere and the fan experience along with the player support areas. Player development is so important, recruitment is so competitive, especially during this conference. We need to be able to give the coaches and the players the tools they need to be successful.
On his first impressions of the Texas A&Ms roster
You know, it’s hard to judge a roster based on a stat list without seeing one of the guys play. You know these guys are bleeding for their school. I am grateful to ESPN+ and the SEC network for what they have done for college baseball. Like I said, I don’t have too many hobbies, so whenever I can, I watch college baseball games. If we weren’t playing, I’d turn on a game to watch, and often Texas A&M was on my screen. I think we will continue to evaluate the squad. I got to meet about eight or ten of the guys who were in town this morning in addition to some local incoming players. Then I’ll be in touch with all players, whether that’s through text messages, social media or phone calls. Hopefully, especially the guys who play here, I’ll get a chance to see them play and we’ll find out where they are and where they want to be. We will do everything we can to make them better.
On His Belief in Texas A&M’s Ability to Compete for National Championships
Everything I said during the first statement regarding academics, player development and team success will all play a factor. If you are a player striving to achieve a major degree, continue your development as a player and become the very best Major League prospect you can become, if you want to compete for championships and you want that on the best baseball conference in the country and largest division of college baseball; if you’re afraid of this, don’t come here. But if you’re striving to compete against the best and know that’s going to be hard, realizing that everything worth having is hard, this is a great place and we’ll just keep growing it. This has all been proven, Coach Childress won championships and so did Coach Johnson. Like I said, this isn’t just their future, this is my future too. I left a great program to come to another place. Not necessarily better, but different. And my job is to make the post-season success reflect what we at TCU could do and do even better than that.
About his experiences of the past few days
This time last week, we (TCU) were getting ready to play a regional game in Fort Worth. I had eight wonderful seniors, five of them in their sixth year of college. Those guys are very close to me. I wanted them to make sure they knew to look me in the eye and understand that there was never a second where I wasn’t 100% invested in what we were trying to do. I’m excited to be here today (at Texas A&M), but honestly I wish our guys at TCU were still playing and this would be later. This moment has just been a steady build-up over time. I knew that if I was ever going to leave TCU, that school had to meet a perfect set of criteria and it had to happen at the perfect time, both professionally and personally. All those things came together, and my kids are clearly the most important thing in my life, so once Jackson and Katie looked at me and said they were all there, it was just a matter of getting over the emotions of leaving. a program that I have been living and breathing for 18 years. This is also a good day for TCU. I think everything has an expiration date and I’m sure there were plenty of people who wanted a new voice, and that’s fine too. I looked forward, not back.
About why he decided to leave TCU to join the Aggies?
I like a challenge. Not a blind challenge, but one in which some success has already been achieved and there is room to grow. Not just on the field, but programmatically. I hate the term CEO coach, but sometimes I’m called that. To me that means you’re not a baseball player, you tend to look at the other stuff. But for me I can. We are not only looking for a good team; we are looking for a great program and something that is sustainable over time. I feel like at 50 years old I still have enough energy to do something really cool again. What we did at TCU was just amazing. To go from a place where there were only two regional teams in the last 100 years, to a school that has played in the College World Series five times in 10 years, that’s amazing. Is there still work to be done at TCU? No question. I spoke to Coach Tanner, the South Carolina athletic director, who coached baseball in North Carolina while I was in college in Clemson. He left North Carolina, which had a phenomenal baseball program, to go to South Carolina, which was good for the SEC at the time, but not as it is today. I asked him why he did that, and he said I just wanted to coach in the American League East sometime. And the SEC is the AL East of college baseball. I’m not afraid of that and I understand how hard that will be. I’m sure it’s even harder than I can imagine not having been in the league full-time, but that’s the challenge. I have no desire to coach to an age close to Augie Garridos. I would like to do this in some place and leave with no regrets in my coaching career. I wanted to try something like this and I spent 26 years in private schools together, as an assistant at Tulane and as a head coach at TCU. This has advantages, but also some major challenges. There have been more opportunities over the course of 18 years, but this one came at the perfect time in the perfect place.
On his timetable to bring success to Texas A&M
That’s hard to say at the moment. I didn’t see any of the guys play, but of course I would love to be in Omaha next year. There’s just a lot of work to do and I know that Aggieland and Aggie Nation want this year to be so successful and so do I. Every good thing takes work. The thing about baseball is that it can happen to anyone at any time. In 2016, TCU was the closest we’ve ever been to a 2-0 record in the driver’s seat, an amazing feeling. We had to win one more game to make it to the championship series against Arizona. Then this little school called Coastal Carolina came in and won three games. That’s tournament baseball, and when you come into the postseason, no matter what level you play at, you have to put your team in position every year to play well in the NCAA tournament, and that’s what Coach (Rob) Childress did. My goal is to do that, and then hopefully we can play our best when we get there.
About adding to the tradition and culture at Texas A&M
Well, we hope to add to it by putting a great product on the field and giving everyone even more reason to cheer. You know, I got a three-ring binder when I landed yesterday, and a lot of the first page was about the traditions at this school. I’m learning how to say Howdy and I’m doing my best to make sure I don’t say UT. I am super excited to be a part of this university. That’s another thing that attracted me to this job. I love being in such an environment, even as a visiting team. I love being in a place where college baseball really means something. You know, I’m from western Maryland, so I grew up with a lot of cold weather where there wasn’t much emphasis on college baseball. Ever since I’ve been in Texas and on programs all over the South, you’ll see that love that makes baseball so special here. We already have that at Texas A&M, and this is an opportunity to build on that.
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