The College Baseball Blog starts our series of interviews with head coaches around the nation today with Steve Rodriguez from Pepperdine. They are coming off a 31-23 campaign while going 12-9 in West Coast Conference play which was good enough for a tie for third place. He is entering his seventh season in charge of the Waves program winning three consecutive West Coast Conference titles from 2004-2006.
1. Pepperdine finished last season with a 31-23 overall record with a 12-9 conference mark in the West Coast Conference. What is your goals and expectations for the 2010 season?
Steve Rodriguez: Our goal is to be as consistent as possible. Last year we were very inconsistent for most of the season and we need to be more reliable on a regular basis.
2. What teams do you think will challenge Pepperdine in the West Coast Conference this season?
SR: San Diego has all of their pitching back so expect them to be very good this year. I think Gonzaga should be very competitive as well for the WCC championship.
3. Have any of your incoming freshmen impressed you during Fall Workouts? Do you see any of them breaking into the starting lineup/rotation this season?
SR: Joe Sever has really impressed us at the plate, so we are looking to him to play immediately. Sam Meyer consistently hit the ball hard all fall. Zach Vincej played really well on defense and should see significant playing time. On the mound, Danny Patrick, Alex Nejara and Cory Jones were all very impressive and should play a vital role for us on the mound.
4. Nick Gaudi led the Waves with nine saves last season but has graduated. Who do you expect to fill into the important closer role to start the season?
SR: It could be any number of guys right now. This will probably be a last minute decision.
SR: I love the idea of everyone starting on the same date. It is like opening day in the Big Leagues. I don’t think it leveled the playing field. I don’t think the playing field will ever be level. Every school has their own issues.
6. How have the new rules with the way the scholarships can be split on the team affected your program over the last few seasons? Do you think it is a good change for college baseball?
SR: The new scholarship rule did not effect us at all. I don’t think it is right to tell a school how much you have to give a player. I hope it eliminates the schools who bring in 35 guys every year and then cut them. The only person who gets hurt is the player.
7. With the removal of the one-time transfer exemption that allowed student-athletes to change schools once without having to sit out a red-shirt year, do you feel that there is more pressure on a coach to recruit with responsibility or for the student-athlete to be aware of what programs are the best fit for them?
SR: This is a tough question because there are many variables that go into this decision. We have had kids leave due to financial issues from their parents and I can’t do anything about it. I think programs that are going to run kids off are going to continue to do so, but I do think it is the student-athletes responsibility to do their research on the schools they have interest in before they commit to playing there.
8. Who has been your biggest influence on your coaching philosophy or career?
My philosophy on coaching is an accumulation of coaches and ideas. I don’t think it is wise for a coach to try to be someone else. If it is not in your personality then it is not going to be successful. I have to coach they way I am. It has to be my personality, my intensity and my ideals. The way I coach is formed by things I have seen as a player all the way to the Big Leagues, and as a coach up until now. I am continually growing because the kids keep changing in how they need to be coached.
The College Baseball Blog would like to thank Steve Rodriguez for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer these questions. Special thanks to Chris Macaluso of Pepperdine Media Relations for setting up the interview. If any other SID’s or coaches would like to be featured in a future interview feel free to send me an email by clicking here.