New South Carolina baseball coach Mark Kingston sat down this week to discuss his first month on the job.
Q. What’s the reception been like from the community?
A. Very good. I think before I was hired people wanted to know who the heck was this guy. Unlike football and basketball, I think most people don’t really have a great grasp of who the baseball coaches are around the country. Maybe four or five guys are recognizable in baseball. Football and basketball, everybody knows who the top 100 coaches are. But since I’ve gotten here, since I’ve had an opportunity to share my vision at the press conference, the reception has been very positive and very encouraging.
Q. Behind Adam Hill, is the pitching staff wide open?
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A. Wide open. Everybody knows Adam was our No. 2 starter last year. The natural progression would be for him to move into that Friday role, but he’s going to have to earn that. Every guy on the team at this point is going to be looked at with fresh eyes. So every guy needs to figure out where they want their role to be and then prove to us as coaches that that’s where we should put them. I say all the time that players make out the lineup. Players figure out their roles. We just identify them and then make those decisions. How the players work, how they produce, that will determine where they go. Adam being a returning weekend starter, the next step for him should be moving into that Friday role, but he’s going to have to earn that just like everybody else.
Q. What are your thoughts on the coaching staff you put together and what do those guys bring to the table?
A. I’m thrilled with this coaching staff. The chemistry is very good. You have three guys, counting myself, that have been head coaches at the Division I level. Jerry (Meyers) and Stuart (Lake) have both been Division I head coaches. So to have them as sounding boards is tremendous. To have two guys in Mike Current and Trip Couch that have been recruiting coordinators at a very high level and to have all of those baseball people in a room together to try to figure out what the next step needs to be or how do we need to organize things, it’s just been tremendous. Tyson Lusk as director of baseball operations is as good as it gets. I’m thrilled with how this coaching staff settled in. We’ve got four master’s degrees in this office now, three head coaches, two recruiting coordinators. To me it’s as good of baseball experience as you could have in one office, so I’m excited about it.
Q. Were current players excited to have Jerry and Stuart staying?
A. Without fail. Obviously, I needed to do my homework. When you take over a program, you bring some of your staff so you bring some fresh eyes, but if you’re going to retain a couple of coaches, you do your homework. I talked to players. I talked to scouts that had watched our program over the years. I talked to other college coaches that had played against South Carolina, and without fail the reviews were positive. It became a very easy decision for me.
Q. What do the next few weeks look like for you?
A. There’s not much time for down time. From a job standpoint it’s continuing to work hard on recruiting, evaluating talent, watching players, bringing them to campus, hosting them, showing them what South Carolina baseball is all about. That’s 52 weeks out of the year we’re focusing on recruiting. The next couple of weeks are no different. From a personal standpoint I’ll head back to Florida for a short amount of time just to help my family pack up the house, help my family with the transition to Columbia, but that won’t be very long.
Q. Have you talked to Chad Holbrook since he got the College of Charleston job?
A. I have not talked to Chad. I’m very happy that he’s found a place that I think he’ll do very well. The one thing I would say is congrats to Chad and his family because I think he’ll do extremely well in Charleston.
Q. What does a new coach coming in do for players and coaches as far as offering a fresh start?
A. I think it’s a fresh start for everybody. I won’t totally discount what guys have done in the past because stat sheets are there for a reason. I’ll do my homework on what their work ethic was in the past and what their attitudes were in the past. I don’t think you can totally discount the past, because I think that tells you a lot about what guys are. But by the same token, now that I’m here I will make all decisions based on the future, based on what I see. I will take into consideration what has gone on here before I got here, but in terms of decision-making I’m going to evaluate what I see.