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Getting To Know The New UC AD Whit Babcock

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By now, you've probably read or heard a few things about the University of Cincinnati's new Director of Athletics, Whit Babcock. 

 

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He comes to UC after spending the last five years at the University of Missouri and made such a favorable impression there, that seven members of Mizzou's athletic department, including AD Mike Alden, traveled to Cincinnati to attend Babcock's introductory news conference.

 

Babcock previously worked at Auburn and West Virginia, and graduated from James Madison University where he was the captain of the baseball team.

 

After answering a variety of questions about his vision for Bearcat athletics at his news conference on Monday, Whit was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me discussing his background.

 

Where did you grow up and what is it known for?

 

My hometown is Harrisonburg, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.  It's the home of James Madison University - it may be known for that - but there are also a lot of poultry farms around there.  In the summer baseball leagues, if you hit a home run, they usually award a butterball turkey to a lucky fan.  How about that?  But it's probably most known for James Madison University and Civil War history.

 

What did your folks do for a living?

 

My dad was the baseball coach there at James Madison and took JMU to the College World Series in 1983.  They lost to Texas and Stanford, but still, I'm proud of him for that.  That was a great experience for me - growing up in the home of a successful head coach.  My dad certainly taught me work ethic and discipline, and my summer jobs were in the equipment room and buildings and grounds over on campus.  My mom was a homemaker and really taught me manners, history, and the importance of education. 

 

How long was your father the baseball coach at James Madison?

 

He was the baseball coach for nearly 17 years.  He announced his retirement to go into athletic administration, and his last year of coaching was my freshman year of playing.  I was quite an average player.  I heard a guy say that the Latin definition of athletic director is that you couldn't play and you can't coach.  I'm sure I fit that quite well.

 

Did you father coach anyone that we would recognize?

 

He had one year where seven of his nine position players were drafted - that was probably the best year.  He had a player named Billy Sample who played for the Rangers and he had a guy named Dana Allison who pitched for the A's for a little while.  A lot of his players made it to minors but only a few advanced to the show.

 

Since your father coached there, did you always dream of attending James Madison?

 

I was really intent on getting out of town and I really loved basketball.  But I was probably a Division II or Division III basketball player, so I decided to stay there and go to school and play baseball.  I did move out of the house and live in the dorms - I did not want to live at home any longer like most of us at the age of 18.  In hindsight, that student-athlete experience was A-plus and taught me how to deal with so many things.  It also prepared me to be around an athletic department where things financially weren't easy.  If the only school I had been at was Auburn - that was a great experience too - but can you truly relate to the places where you have to make nickels look like quarters?

 

What posters of athletes did you have on your bedroom wall as a kid?

 

Dr. J was one of them.  I remember that foul line dunk poster was on my wall.  I think I liked the afro and the fact that he played for the 76ers.  But he was such a dynamic figure there and brought some style to the game in the 70's.  I was a big Boston Red Sox fan so I liked Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice too.

 

Before looking into the job, what did you know about the University of Cincinnati?

 

The few times that I was here with West Virginia for football, it was one of the coldest, windiest places that I remember.  But I've heard a lot about it since then and when Mike Thomas resigned I thought, 'Man - that's a good one.'  I've really bought into the vision that Dr. Williams has put forth, and to be a part of something that's on the rise academically and athletically is really exciting.  From the outside looking in, I think it's a program on the rise and one that will be fun to build and take to the next level.

 

You knew Butch Jones from when you both worked at West Virginia.  Did you call him right away when you heard that the job was open?

 

It was pretty darn quick.  Just to say, "Tell me about it.  Tell me everything about Cincinnati.'  It was really exciting to get the job last Saturday and then watch the football team beat South Florida.  (UC's Sports Information Director) Doug Mosley put me on the phone with Butch right there in the locker room after the game.  His voice was cracking with emotion and man, he's a special coach.  I'm sure we have a number of special coaches - I don't know them yet - but to hear his voice cracking with emotion...I can see why his players want to run through a wall for him.  I'm a big fan of Butch Jones.

 

Is Whit your full name or is that short for something?

 

My full name is Bradley Whitney Babcock, and I should have a lot more family money with a name like that.  It sounds like aristocracy, but I am the son of a coach and a phys ed teacher and a homemaker mom.  It's a family name and my dad is Brad so I go by Whit.

 

Describe the perfect day?

 

The perfect day?  It has to have my family in it and my faith in it.  But the perfect day on this campus would be to spend some time with our student-athletes - maybe one or two in particular that as freshman, came in a bit immature or came from a rough background and then to see them as seniors and how they've grown and become young men and women.  If they can graduate and beat Louisville on the same day, that would be a pretty good day.

 

I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

 

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

 

And I'm on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.

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1 Comment

I really like him. He has a great sense of humor. We are in for a great ride! The fact that he and CBJ get along so good bodes well for finally retaining a quality coach long term.