TitanCentral.com: What are some specific goals you have set for the team for this year?
Bob Ammann: In regards to on the field, I think the expectations of the general public are not that high. The expectations within the staff and the team are much higher.
I think we should be shooting for top three in the league and being over .500 throughout the season. being the first year with all the changes I am not expecting a switch over night. I see us improving throughout the season.
The concern that I have is that we are not real deep so it's going to be very important to stay healthy. What gives me hope is that when we went to the Final Four we only had 19 players. There are some very good things about having a small squad and if I were assured we were going to be healthy I'd have a small squad all the time. There's a lot of chemistry issues and such that are extremely positive. When you have a squad of 30, the minute you put the lineup on you have two-thirds of your team that are sitting and some of them are never going to dress which just causes a lot of issues.
We also have academic goals. When I took over in the spring we had the second to last team GPA of all the men's teams. At the conclusion of this last spring we were second highest. I really put an emphasis on that because I feel there is a direct relationship between success off the field and on the field. You can't be a slacker off because that slacker attitude will then happen in the games and in practice. It's just natural.
Being successful and doing the right things is difficult. You have to do things that hurt and if you're cheating, looking for ways out or looking to put it on someone else it becomes infectious and I don't believe it is the type of mentality and attitude that winners can have.
TitanCentral.com: Does the university and athletic department provide enough support for the players to be successful in academics as far as your concerned?
Bob Ammann: Obviously our athletic department is different than most. We have financial situations that don't allow us to have the numbers that other places have but that doesn't mean we don't have that help. But my speech to my players is, you have to try to not be successful. There is every means available to you if you need help. The guys who aren't successful are the ones that don't look for that help.
TitanCentral.com: You probably knew this question was coming ... Eddie Soto’s returning to campus as an assistant coach was met with high praise. Can you tell us about his abrupt departure to UCLA and what impact that had on the program?
Bob Ammann: I can only tell you what I know and I am going off of my conversation with Eddy. He had no idea either. It was a very spur-of-the-moment offer. He felt, for him, his future and his family's future that it was the best opportunity. In college sports and professional sports you see good people have opportunities, some they take and some they don't take. This was one he felt he needed to take.
Was the timing great? Obviously not. I know he was concerned with my feelings and my feelings towards him and I told him, "You know what? Yes, I'm not happy with the decision but I respect your decision. But it's something you're going to have to deal with if it doesn't work out."
Everything happens for a reason. I think that I have, my players have, and my staff has a tremendous opportunity. That's the way we see it and we're moving forward. What happen with Eddy, he's not a part of us now, it's water under the bridge and we'll move on.
TitanCentral.com: Do you plan to hire a replacement this year or will you wait until after the season is over?
Bob Ammann: The situation when Eddy originally left (under Mistri), he was the second assistant. I was the first assistant and he was the second assistant. Because of budget cuts, he was one of the assistants let go. I believe it was men's soccer, volleyball, an administrative job and another assistant that was let go. The hope within the department, and what we are told, is we are looking to bring that second assistant job back.
My second assistant, although not full-time, was Adam Reeves. Adam was here under the assumption that eventually that full-time position was going to come. He was working as a full-time assistant and he's done a tremendous job. The same way I am with my players, I am very loyal. Adam deserved to have the number one assistant job to replace Eddy. I'm still hoping that I get the second and when that comes then I will hire someone else.
In the meantime, I have two volunteer assistants. I have one that actually played professionally with me, Jerry Litursa. Sam Reynolds, an ex-goalkeeper who is with Chivas now, he is my volunteer goalkeeper coach. I have a grad assistant in Earl Alexander who played one year here and I have a 5th year under-grad assistant which is Jose Baragon.
We definitely have a full staff. I couldn't be happier with Adam. I feel he has a tremendous future in the game I wouldn't be surprised if, in the next couple years, he is also getting offers to go on to other programs. That's the nature of the business. I find myself different than most. If you look at most coaches out there they don't really stay at one particular all too long.
TitanCentral.com: Let's talk about the schedule. Your start the season with six consecutive games on the road. That’s certainly not the easiest situation for a first year coach. How did that happen?
Bob Ammann: A lot of scheduling is done years in advance and a lot of returns are based on previous games. On that note, because of the way our league is, and we're playing 12 league games so it really doesn't allow us to play other western region games, we need to make sure we get out-of-region games. It really doesn't give us a lot of non-conference games to play with.
So now, all of a sudden I owe San Jose State a game, when are we going to be able to go there? When are we going to be able to go to UNLV? All these games ... we owe Stanford a return when they came here a couple years ago for a tournament. This is when their tournament is... you are kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Ideally you don't want to start with six games on the road but you have to live up to the commitment that was made previously. I have the same issues next year. I have to go to Air Force and Denver. I never want to go to Air Force and Denver. I will never schedule them but I'm forced to go there. Our hands are tied in a lot of things and rather than just break the commitment... I'm not going to do that.
Let's look at the positive side of it. We're a young team, there's a lot of new players, here's a perfect opportunity to be on the road, be away from the pressures of home. We have time to bond on the road, in the hotel, let's look at the positives rather than look at the negatives.