Marshall: Mosiello Where He Belongs

Phillip Marshall takes a look at the newest member of the Auburn baseball coaching staff.

On a warm night at Plainsman Park, Bill Mosiello was in constant motion. He barked orders to the teen-agers in town for Auburn coach Tom Slater's baseball camp.

"Get that butt down!" he said to one. "Good job! Good job!" he said to another. Mosiello was where he wanted to be and doing what he loves to do – teach baseball.

Off to the side, Slater smiled. As soon as it became obvious that Matt Myers would not return to the Auburn staff, Slater knew who he wanted. He wanted Mosiello, one of the nation's more respected coaches, a former manager in the New York Yankees farm system, a baseball man through and through.

After four years in professional baseball, Mosiello made a difficult decision. It would be best for his family, he decided, to go back to college baseball. A California native, he spent last season at USC. But big-city life wasn't what his family wanted.

When Slater called, Mosiello was ready to listen. The two have been friends since 1995, when Slater was an assistant on Hal Baird's Auburn staff and Mosiello was at Ole Miss. On top of that, Baird is one of Mosiello's baseball heroes.

"My relationship with Coach Slater had a lot to do with it," Mosiello said. "And Coach Baird is a lot of the reason I'm here. Coach Baird is Auburn baseball to me. I loved the pro game, especially the New York Yankees. It was a great organization and I had success. But in the college game, you get to spend a lot more time with your family. And my wife is in charge of this family."

Mosiello saw Baird's teams up close in two seasons at Tennessee and one at Ole Miss. His teams twice lost series to Baird's Auburn teams.

"Coach Baird is Auburn baseball to me," Mosiello said. "The way they handled the clubs I coached, I always thought if you can't beat them join them. They matched up tough against us because we believed in the same things. They threw strikes, played defense, bunted, hit and ran, hit with two strikes, pitched in when other clubs didn't do it very often. That's the formula for baseball success anywhere."

Mosiello told Slater weeks ago he wanted the job. But Tennessee almost got in the way. Mosiello interviewed for the Vols head coaching job.

"It was a great experience, but I hate to lose," Mosiello said. "This is where I was meant to be, so I'm excited. Anytime you don't get a job, you failed. So that part of it wasn't fun."

Mosiello arrived in town Monday. His wife, Janelle, and their three sons – Shane, 10, Gehrig, 7, and Helton, 4 months, will arrive later this month.

Even when Mosiello went to USC, he took fond memories of his three seasons in the SEC. He had memories of big-winning years and of the southern lifestyle. He and his wife wanted to experience it again.

"It was always a goal of mine, if I was going to get back into college, to get back to the SEC," Mosiello said. "We just love the memories. We have fond memories because we won a lot of games. I could be at the worst place in the world, and if I won a lot of games, I'd probably like it. But we happen to love the lifestyle. It's real exciting for our family. Anybody who has been to Auburn understands that."

Mosiello knows the score at Auburn. He knows that, in his fourth season, the pressure is on for Slater to produce a winner. But he didn't blink.

"It was more of a challenge," Mosiello said. "I'd love to help Auburn get back to where it has been and where it's supposed to be. I'm pretty lucky, because I know they have good players here. I'm not dumb. I try to put myself in good situations. When we have a good season, it's not going to be because of me. It's going to be because I'm here at the right time.

"I'd like to help make it where no kid leaves here without getting to Omaha."

Mosiello will coach hitters, infielders and coach third base next season. That is a clear signal of how much Slater, who coached third base last season, thinks of him.

"I'm a very hands-on coach and always have been," Slater said. "Sometimes, as a head coach, you have to let some things go. I haven't done that as much as maybe I should. It tells you how much I think of Bill, how much I respect him and his knowledge, savvy, passion, everything."

Auburn will play the game offensively, Mosiello said, in much the same way he saw Baird's teams played it.

"We want to be the total package," Mosiello said. "We want to be tough hitters with two strikes. We want to see pitches. We want to do everything possible – steal bases, bunt, just play total baseball. We want to make each guy a complete baseball player."

Mosiello, 42, said he is committed now to staying in college coaching. He wants to be a head coach one day, but he said that can wait. His focus is on Auburn and only Auburn.

"I'd love to be a head coach in the SEC, but I'm not worried about that," Mosiello said. "I'm worried about doing a good job in whatever my capacity is. I used to chase things years ago, but now I just settle down and do what I do best."

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More copies of Phillip's book, "The Auburn Experience," have become available for purchase at a reduced price. An oversized coffee table book published in December 2004, the book features more than 300 slick pages of stories and photographs of many of Auburn's greatest traditions, teams, players and coaches in every sport. Originally selling for $69, it is available now for just $20, plus $5 shipping and handling. For orders of multiple books, there will be just one $5 charge for shipping and handling. Send check or money order made payable to Phillip Marshall to The Auburn Experience, P.O. Box 968, Auburn, AL 36831.

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