Q&A with Titans AD Brian Quinn - Part I

Cal State Fullerton's athletic director Brian Quinn took the time last week to answer questions from TitanCentral.com.

The athletic director has been on the job for three years but he says he still loves what he is doing and is extremely happy to be in charge of Cal State Fullerton's athletic department. There is still a long ways to go but he sees a lot of progress, specifically budget balancing, while future plans include getting the men's basketball program restarted.

TitanCentral.com: Let's talk about the 2004 baseball team. Before the season started, what were the expectations of Coach Horton? Did you or anyone for that matter believe this team had the talent to win a national championship?

Brian Quinn: You lose 10 kids to the draft and you lose a great pitcher in Dustin Miller [injury], you have to wonder if you will be able to achieve what you have achieved before. I still had a feeling, because there were enough core players ... I told people, early in the season, "beat us now because you are not going to beat us later in the year." I wasn't as down... There was awhile there when we all started wondering if we were ever going to get there or even to the playoffs...

The league schedule was perfect, to open on the road at Pacific really helped us, got us some confidence and scored some runs. I think the schedule really favored us in the Big West Conference, having those teams in the early going where we could rack up some runs and get the confidence going and by the time we played the top teams we were hot.

TitanCentral.com: While you were in Omaha, what were some of the things that made you glad you were a Titan?

Brian Quinn: I think the Titan House. Carlos, Jeff and Pam did such a good job; Seeing all the parents; Seeing the bus come and go and all the fans standing in the front and cheering like crazy as the kids went by, I think that really was special. I'll remember that as one thing in particular...

TitanCentral.com: And of course the games...

Brian Quinn: Obviously the games. They way we played, the pitching was superb, the clutch hitting. It was just a clutch performance all the way around. We were kind of the team, especially once we got to Texas, we kind of owned the city.

TitanCentral.com: This was mentioned in Mel Franks excellent diary as well but I was surprised no other participating schools had a house similar to the Titan House, especially after the buzz it created at the College World Series in 2003.

Brian Quinn: Yeah, I'm surprised too after last year because we got so much publicity. It's surprising with all the resources the other schools had that they didn't do it.

TitanCentral.com: So I have to assume next year there will also be a Titan House in Omaha?

Brian Quinn: We'll always have a Titan House as long as we are there.

TitanCentral.com: Did you happen to see the post from a fan on TitanCentral.com about Kurt Suzuki and how he handled both defeat and winning the CWS? This seems to be the norm and not the exception with the 2004 baseball team, is that what you are seeing as well?

Brian Quinn: Yes. This team is special and it starts with Suzuki and it goes right into Pillitere and it goes into Windsor and it goes into Prettyman, the kids who have been in the program. There is something special about them. Just their behavior and how they conduct themselves not only on the field but off the field. Pretty remarkable.

TitanCentral.com: Horton has made it very clear through the media that he is frustrated with the support he is getting at Cal State Fullerton. UCLA went a different route but it could also be that Horton was waiting for a more prestigious opening like USC, possibly as early as next year. What is being done to address the issues identified by Horton?

Brian Quinn: We're looking at financial's, first of all, for George. We're looking at his contract. He has a multiple year but lets take a look at it now and look at some things for George and his assistant coaches who are possible. So we've already started those discussions.

Once this pro baseball league is finalized, and it should be soon, around the 20th I believe, one of the plans is to completely re-do the field for George. This is one of his big deals.

TitanCentral.com: Can you tell us more about this professional baseball league?

Brian Quinn: It's called the Golden League. It's a professional independent league. They are talking to Stanford, Long Beach State, Cal Poly [SLO]... a number of cities but they are talking to colleges where they can to see if they can use their facilities during the summer. Part of that [agreement] would be that we would get sufficient funds so we can re-do the field for George.

TitanCentral.com: Anything else part of that contract, like completing the press box or more seating?

Brian Quinn: That's not there, it's too much. Probably a new ticket booth. Again, step-by-step. So we're trying to do a lot of things for George and for the program, quietly, over a period of time. There's a lot of stuff that's happened that people don't know about so if we continue to do things to make it better and to make the environment out there better and I think we've done that and within a very tough budgetary time.

We don't have resources. When I was in Omaha I heard Texas' budget was $80 million and our's is $6.5 million. Now they have football even if they spend 20-30 million on it, they still spend 50 million on programs we offer.

TitanCentral.com: Let's focus on something that really has nothing to do with budgets and is something within control of the school. It took UCI exactly 11 days to hire a head baseball coach. How was UCI able to hire a baseball coach so quickly while it takes CSF about 3 months to hire a similar position?

Brian Quinn: Boy, that's a great question. You're right, these schools, also UCLA, sometimes they do things with a very quick turnaround... I really can't answer the question. I just know our university follows very specific guidelines, we have very specific rules and they lay everything out from diversity and all of those kinds of things, EO, Equal Opportunity, so they go through all those. This university is absolutely a stickler for following to the letter of the law. I really don't know how the other institutions do that.

Maybe it's where I end up going, but even at LMU it was the same way. Pepperdine, I remember when they hired Paul Westphal, they would just pick a guy or two they were really interested in, call him up and that was kind of the process. At Loyola, I had to have a full committee, students, faculty, so it was the same thing.

TitanCentral.com: Is it fair to say it starts with President Gordon?

Brian Quinn: I don't know that. I don't know if it's human resources, I don't know. I know that he is enormously ethical, very strong in making sure that fairness is always there. For some people this may get them upset, for others they say, "Bravo for you, you are protecting the institution, you are protecting the state and you are making sure there's no prejudice and when we are hiring we are hiring per the guidelines," so I don't know. that's just what it's been since I've been here and I was used to that at LMU.

TitanCentral.com: I don't want to dwell on it, but I will anyway... I think we can potentially lose out on good candidates when we have to follow processes that take 3 or 4 months. When something doesn't work, which many people believe this is a prime example of why CSF doesn't have it all together, I think we need to change it and taking 3 or 4 months to hire a coach isn't working, in my opinion.

Brian Quinn: I'm really not the right person to answer that. I am told these are the procedures and the laws and this is what we must follow.

TitanCentral.com: Will they still form a committee (or committee's) and for an assistant's job? Or is Horton free to hire whomever he wants, as quickly as he wants (without a committee formed)?

Brian Quinn: I don't think so. From what I understand from Patty Sexton is that can be an emergency and this can be called an emergency hire, so that should be able to be done very swiftly.

TitanCentral.com: I'm assuming there are already some candidates George Horton has in mind and if so, can you mention any of them?

Brian Quinn: Yes, but I really don't know them I know Jason Gill is certainly one. I understand both Chad Baum and Sergio Brown are both going to UC Irvine, that's what I was told this morning by one of our staff members.

TitanCentral.com: Can you talk about Dave Serrano taking the job at Irvine?

Brian Quinn: As soon as we came back from the World Series Dave had asked me, obviously he asked George for sure, to contact the AD at Irvine, Bob Chichester, because were were good friends. I said, "Sure, I would be happy to call for you." At that point it really boiled down to Jason Gill and Dave Serrano. I know George didn't want to lose him but a chance for a fellow to get a head coaching job... and I'll be perfectly honest Dave's one of the class acts I have seen in this business. I love Dave Serrano.

When we sat down because we were seeing what we could put together, can we get some additional things to help him and he said, and I'll never forget this and it shows you his class, but he said, "You know Brian, I really appreciate all that and certainly money would be important and it would be nice to have but I am not going to make this decision based on money. I will go to Irvine to be a head coach or I will remain at Cal State Fullerton and remain an assistant. The question at this point is do I want to be a head coach or do I want to remain with the kids and that close personal relationship all the time." And his worry was getting behind a desk too much. I knew right there that that was the best hire Irvine could make.