Part II: Candid Conversation With The Boss Man

It's been a great year to be Tommy Boss. He has a degree in hand from the University of Florida, an SEC Championship ring, and an extended stay in Omaha for the College World Series. The future too looks bright for The Boss Man.

His dream is to eventually become the head baseball coach at his alma mater, Dunnellon High School. Boss' character and willingness to learn might not allow him to remain home for very long though. Don't be surprised to see Tommy Boss back in the college game in the not to distant future.

Mark McLeod: Tell everybody about Coach McMahon.

Tommy Boss: He's the most intense individual that I've ever played for. I don't know anybody who hates losing as much as he does. If we lose, he won't sleep that night. We can tell the next day at the pre-game meal that he didn't sleep. You don't want to disappoint him. You want to do everything the way that he wants it to happen, because he knows what he's talking about. He's such a great guy. He calls everybody in the whole University Athletic Association on their birthday. He's probably the nicest guy that I've ever met and to be able to lead a team the way that he does in such a first class manner is just unbelievable.

I attribute all of our success this season to Coach McMahon. He had a vision and he knew what we could accomplish. It was a pleasure playing under him. I'm going to miss not playing for Coach McMahon.

Probably the one area where Coach Mac doesn't get the credit he deserves is that he really knows the game. He is a great game day coach. Can you elaborate?

Oh, definitely, he knows the game so well. He has a great feel for what the other team is going to do and knows what they're expecting us to do. When they expect us to hit and run, we'll do just the opposite … , we'll do a slash, we'll draw the infield in and then hit a little chopper over the infielder's head for a double. It's just the things that we work on every single day, the little things that make all the difference in our game. We wouldn't be where we are today if we hadn't worked on those things every day.

Whenever he goes out to argue a call with an umpire for example, we know that Coach McMahon is right because he knows the rule book better than anybody I know. He knows all of the new rules as well, and he'll test the umpires on them.

I think that we were a fun team to watch. We could beat you with the long ball or bunt and move a guy over. When I wasn't pitching, I enjoyed watching, because I really do think that we were an exciting team to watch. Again, that's Coach McMahon. He has it all drawn up before the game. He's got a plan and he stays through it.

He (Coach McMahon) knew it, didn't he?

Yeah, I think so. I think so. I think he knew this team had a different feeling. They (the coaching staff) kind of pushed us a bit harder than we'd been pushed before. It's funny, but the year before when we had Ben Harrison and Justin Hoyman and that group of seniors, you could tell that with guys like (Matt) LaPorta, (Brian) Jeroloman, and (Adam) Davis getting a little older, next year could be pretty big.

At this start of practice, I remember thinking hey, we might have a chance to make a run at it this year. The young guys have improved and were now older and we had assembled a solid pitching staff. I just felt like we had a chance and we did. Mark my words, Coach McMahon will win a national championship. It might even be as soon as next year.

This team really had an edge in attitude. After a big game loss, there was a different kind of fire under you guys?

Our main goal was to win an SEC Championship. To lose a game like we did against Alabama where we spanked them all weekend and then give up four runs in the ninth or whatever motivated us. We knew that we let one slip and made it harder on ourselves. But, we came together, and that was the difference.

Coach McMahon wouldn't let us yell at somebody or point fingers at one another in the locker room. He kept everybody together. We focused on taking the season as a whole, just like he wanted us to do.

We went into the Vanderbilt series needing three wins to be the SEC champions outright. Vanderbilt is a tough place to play let alone sweep. Their pitching staff is one of the best in the country. Not taking anything away from the College World Series experience, but that Vanderbilt series is one of the most memorable of the season. Nobody thought that we'd do it. There's no way that Florida is going to sweep Vanderbilt in Nashville.

You guys generated a groundswell of interest in Florida baseball with your success this season. Has that feeling carried over, especially since you've been helping out at the camps?

I'd say so. We just had the little kids here. I guess they're six to twelve years old. I think they had to turn away kids because there were so many coming to the camp. I had heard that it was actually sold out before the CWS though, but I'm not sure about that.

What about from people that you run into on campus or elsewhere?

I know that when we landed at the airport there were probably 300-400 people there to greet us. We weren't expecting it. We were just thinking that we were going back to the field and have a normal meeting. It felt so good to know that people really cared. And everybody that I talked to was saying that they watched all of the games and how exciting it was to see us. It just means a lot.

What about next year, particularly the pitching staff?

You know what, I think we're going to be just fine. It looks like Bryan Ball is gong to be their senior, big game, go to guy. He's going to be the man. I think that he is well prepared for it. He was kind of our guy this year early on in the season and he was one of the best guys through the year. He's had another full season of experience under his belt and he's well prepared. He's going to be able to go out there and give them a chance to win every weekend, you know."

Look at a guy like Stephen Locke, a freshman kid who ended up starting the first game of the College World Series. To have an experience like that as a freshman … wow. Going out there and pitching on a regular SEC weekend should be a cakewalk for that kid. He has so much talent. If he keeps working hard, he's going to be a really good one. I can't wait to come back and watch him pitch. Just those two guys are gong to give them a chance from the start. Then you have Darren O'Day in the pen. You can't have a better closer than he is. He showed everybody in the College World Series. If Alan Horne comes back, that's a sure fire shot that they might get back to the College World Series again. I really think the leadership of Darren and Ball will help the new guys on this staff. That leadership will be important.

Would you consider coaching?

To tell you the truth, it would be a dream for me to go play a couple of more years and go back to my hometown of Dunnellon and be the head coach there. I'm not a big city guy. I don't really like the spotlight. Yeah, I definitely think that coaching would be in my future. I'd like to maybe eventually coach small college baseball and work my way up. I'd like to give it a shot, probably not right away though, even if I don't play next year. But, in four or five years I'd like to be a head coach."

It's just now starting to sink in?

Yeah, it is. Finally! I was out at the field today working with a team of six and seven year olds, and they asked, "How did you guys make it to the championship game of the country?" I don't even remember what else he said. Man, I thought about it for a second, and I thought, yeah, we are. But, it took a little kid to bring it to my attention that we don't have anything to be ashamed of, we were one of the two best teams in the country. We were picked to finish third in the SEC East and look at you, you're the second best team in the nation.

We'd like to thank Tommy and congratulate him and his Florida teammates on a spectacular season. They exceeded most of our expectations, and represented the Florida program so very well. We'll stay in touch Tommy as he takes his turn in the pros. Thanks for the memories to a GREAT Gator.

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