June 8, 2017
By Bill Koch
Scott Googins, who was introduced as the University of Cincinnati’s 28th head baseball coach Wednesday, will seek to turn a winner into a UC program that has experienced very little consistent success since it last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1974. Googins talked with Bill Koch of GoBearcats.com after his press conference about how difficult it was to leave Xavier after 12 years; his close relationship with Ty Neal, the coach he’s replacing at UC; and how eager he is to see what he can accomplish with Marge Schott Stadium as a draw for recruits.
Q: Was it difficult for you to leave Xavier after spending the last 12 years there?
A: It was extremely difficult. I think it’s about great people and at Xavier there’s obviously a lot of great people there. I couldn’t have been happier with the way (Xavier athletic director) Greg Christopher handled it. He tried to keep me and I commend him for that and I’m grateful for that. I just think this is an opportunity for me to take the next challenge. I think this is a great place, a great opportunity to do some special things here. poiI’m a very loyal guy. I wasn’t looking to leave Xavier. I wasn’t throwing my name out there. I wasn’t trying to leverage getting more money or anything like that. I was very happy at Xavier, but this is a unique opportunity. It was tough. I wondered what the backlash would be, but I’ve had nothing but positive things. I’ve had over 250 texts saying, ‘Hey, Coach, we’re rooting for you except when you play Xavier.’ It’s been very positive. I’m very encouraged by that.
Q: Marge Schott Stadium has long been considered a major advantage for UC as the Bearcats have attempted to turn their baseball fortunes around. But since the 3,085-seat stadium opened on May 20, 2004, UC has had seven losing seasons, three winning seasons and three .500 seasons. Did you ever look at the stadium while coaching Xavier and wonder why UC didn’t win more with such a quality facility to recruit to?
A: No, I didn’t. I think winning is tougher than a lot of people think. I didn’t really think that way. But as I was coaching, I’d think, ‘Boy, I’d love to have this facility and see what I could do with it.’ But I never really judge because I think they’ve had some success, maybe not as much as people think they should.”
Q: Did you know that UC hasn’t played in the NCAA Tournament since 1974?
A: That’s a great challenge. The thing that’s really interesting about this league is that you don’t really have to win the league to get an at-large bid. The American (Athletic Conference) got three or four iteams (Houston, South Florida and Central Florida) in the regional this year so there’s opportunities to get in if you have a good strength of schedule, if you win those games and you do well in conference. We want to win a conference championship. Those are some of the goals that we’re gonna talk about. I know where we want to go, but we might have some detours. The road might be closed or there might be a bridge out, whatever it is. But we’re gonna get to the right destination.
Q: Will you have to recruit differently to UC than you did at Xavier?
A: I don’t know. That’s gonna be an interesting part of it. The midwest - Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Chicago - I know the area. I don’t think it will be, but I can’t say for sure.
Q: It seems that recruiting for baseball is different than it is for football or basketball because so many schools lose players to the Major League draft after three years. Do you see it that way?
A: Not only the draft, but also the scholarships because it’s not a full ride. That’s the other part, being able to make it affordable to come here. Part of the puzzle of putting together a team is how is it gonna fit that way.
Q: You mentioned during your press conference that you liked the team you will inherit at UC. What specifically, from a baseball standpoint, do you like about this group?
A: They’re very athletic. They play hard. They run really well. The speed of the game is important. They swing it well. I really like their approach. I think they were a tough team to play this year. I think their pitching is pretty good. They had some injuries a little bit, but I think they’ve got good arms also. Coach Neal did a good job of recruiting.
Q: How close were you to Ty Neal?
A: I’m pretty tight with him. I’ve known him for probably 20 years now. He’s a good friend, a great guy. I talked to him (Tuesday) when I took the job. I called him and he congratulated me. I reached out to him because I know our paths are gonna cross. I just wanted to call him and tell him, ‘I want you to know that I took the job.’ He said congratulations and good luck. It’s one of those conversations you have to have. Sometimes it’s not easy to do these conversations, but but it’s the right thing to do - not send him a text, not send him an email, but pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey man, I just want to let you know.
Q: Did you hesitate at all about taking the job because of your friendship with Neal?
A: No. It wasn’t like I was cutting his legs out from under him. I wasn’t lobbying for the job or anything like that. The opportunity presented itself and I wanted to take advantage of it.”
Bill Koch covered UC Athletics for 27 years - 15 at The Cincinnati Post and 12 at The Cincinnati Enquirer - before joining the staff of GoBEARCATS.com in January, 2015 as featured columnist. Follow him on Twitter @bkoch.