New baseball coach Ty Neal was introduced to media and UC family on Wednesday, but the difficulty finding time to squeeze him in is the biggest reason he's here.
CINCINNATI -- In the middle of the wildest weeks of his professional career, new Bearcats baseball coach Ty Neal struggled to find time for sleep. When picking a color for his introductory press conference Wednesday at the Lindner Center he said he chose red to match his eyes.
Between his Indiana Hoosiers sweeping Florida State to clinch the school's first trip to the College World Series and being hired to his first head coaching job by Cincinnati, Neal could have taken a second to back in the moment. He could have spent a night of celebration with his family and pop a bottle with a collection of those who helped him along his rapid rise as an assistant. He could have taken a moment to stop home and grab a suit for the press conference.
Heck, he could have slept a bit.
Nobody would blame him. Considering all he's accomplished, he deserved it.
Those choices wouldn't make sense for this coach.
Instead, he took a trip to Akron to recruit.
That's exactly why he's the new leader of Bearcats baseball. Neal wore red, but his collar came covered in blue Wednesday. A reputation for tireless work ethic and relentless recruiting building multiple programs made him "the perfect fit for UC," according to Athletic Director Whit Babcock.
This was not about glitz or glamour or winning the press conference with a flashy name. This hire happened because the moment the press conference ended, Neal had work to do.
"I'm more of a blue-collar, lead-by-example kind of guy," Neal said as he met the media and faculty. "I would rather just operate through actions and I can't wait to get started here."
As much as Babcock viewed Neal's personality as an ideal match to the Bearcats program, Neal found the same in UC. Neal held complete autonomy as lead recruiter for the Hoosiers. In building a Big Ten champion and one with three first-round picks, he became a rising star in the coaching ranks.
Five years ago, Neal expected his first head coaching job would come at a smaller school in the MAC. He hoped for that, actually. Wherever it would be, he would jump. As time passed and reputation grew, however, he took a more selective view.
Without experience as a head coach, it would take a place who understood his philosophy and believed in his track record.
"It's one of those you are searching for someone to take a chance on you," Neal said. "Part of me four or five years ago, I didn't care where it was going to be I was going to jump on and do my thing. I've taken a step back the last few years and said I'm going to wait, it's got to be a great opportunity."
Understandable then why Babcock came away impressed. For the man in his first job as AD, a coach looking for his first shot wouldn't be viewed as a determent, rather an advantage.
"He has the hunger to be a head coach and drive to prove himself," Babcock said. "I can relate to that having stood here 20 months ago having that hunger and to go get it."
Little sell job was necessary to lure Neal to Marge Schott Stadium.
He desired a place his family could settle in to the community, the school would allow him to operate effectively as a recruiter, he'd be surrounded by quality people and provide an opportunity to grow.
UC knocked all four criteria out of the park.
"It was a no-brainer," said Neal, who coached under Brian Cleary at UC in 2004 before moving on to eight years in Indiana.
Neal only has one bit of unfinished business, that begins Saturday against Louisville. He'll take a team he recruited to one of the shoddiest stadiums in all of college baseball - IU built a new stadium two years ago - and see if they can win a national championship.
The celebration of such a title would be unruly. There's no guarantee Neal would participate, though. Babcock learned that when vetting Neal coach talking to IU skipper Tracy Smith.
"He said instead of staying back for the party after winning the regional here," Babcock recalled of the conversation, "Ty came in on his own and said, 'Coach there is really a pitcher I need to see in Chicago.' He skipped the celebration, drove up and back to Chicago to see a pitcher."
As Babcock concluded the story, the moment clearly served as the equivalent of a walk-off home run.
"That's our guy," he said.
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