We met with Mike for a question and answer period to discuss a variety of topics including his first two months as athletic director, revenue and non-revenue sports, coaching hires, future facility upgrades, the recent NCAA championships hosted by Tech, and his approach in making head coaching hires. Today is the first of a three part Q & A series with Mike Bobinski.
GoJackets.com – Are your impressions of Georgia Tech any different now than when you were going through the interview process?
Mike Bobinski – "I think it's pretty consistent with what my perceptions were. I had an impression of this place as a high quality institution, great academics, and populated with great young people. Our students athletes are high quality. All that is as I expected it to be when I got here. We have a lot of resources, some great opportunities, and a lot of potential."
GoJackets.com - Did you have any pre-conceived ideas of things that you wanted to address when you got here?
Mike Bobinski – "I tried not to come in with a lot of uninformed thoughts and opinions. I wanted things to evolve through conversations and interactions with folks in our program. I want to feel highly comfortable that I've gotten my arms around who we are and where we need to go. I've begun to firm impressions, opinions, and thoughts. We'll then move in the direction we need to go. I've tried to stay away from pre-judging. I want to see it and feel it, and experience it with my own eyes."
GoJackets.com – When you first got here did you sit down with the coaches to ask them what they needed to be successful?
Mike Bobinski – "I had an extensive series of conversations with all our head coaches and staff. I had an outline for our head coaches as well as our internal staff folks. It was used to organize the dialogue and then the conversation could go wherever it went. I wanted to know their assessment of the program and where they stood. I wanted them to self-evaluate and I wanted to know what their aspirations and needs might be and how they would evaluate their program from a resource, facility, and talent perspective. The conversations were enlightening and everyone was forthright and informative."
GoJackets.com – When you were at Xavier, they were known for their non-revenue sports. What have you seen from the non-revenue sports at Georgia Tech?
Mike Bobinski – "I think we have the ability to be very,very strong in a wide number of programs because we have the infastructure in place as you just alluded to. Our facilities are, by and large, in pretty good shape. There are some back of the house things that aren't as visible that we need to continue to stay on top of. The opportunity to be successful and compete for ACC championships is there and then compete at the national level. I'm excited to watch that unfold. We want the coaches and student-athletes of those sports to know that we intend to be successful. It is a point of pride for the, the department and the institute as a whole. We're not where we want to be but we have a great starting point."
GoJackets.com – You're in a position now to make your first head coaching hire (softball). Do you approach it any differently than you would a revenue sport hire?
Mike Bobinski – "I've allowed our sports administrators to be the point person on the search. Theresa Wenzel, our Associate AD, oversees softball and is doing the bulk of the effort to identify candidates. We talk regularly about where the search is and what the pool looks like. From there, we'll involve a number of full time campus people. I'm not a big committee person. When the candidates arrive they'll meet with a variety of people to provide them with a sense of who we are. The basic characteristic that you look for in a successful coach transcends across all programs. We don't pay any less attention to it because it is a non-revenue sport. Getting the right person to coach our softball program is critical."
GoJackets.com - Do you have a time frame for the hire?
Mike Bobinski – I don't like to set dates for hires. As soon as we feel we've identified the right candidate, the search will be over. We're in that final stage of the search. I'm hopeful we'll have it done shortly.
GoJackets.com – Tech has hosted two national championships in the spring. How positive has that been for Tech?
Mike Bobinski – Both of them could not have been done any better or been more well-received by participants, fans, and the NCAA administration. Our folks led by Paul Griffin, Cheryl Watts, and a host of others have done an amazing job. They hit the mark in every single way. The final four was the best attnded, most competitive, and the best environment that I've ever been around. Everything worked extremely well and our folks had a lot to do with that.
The golf side was more labor intensive. We put the thing together and our folks did great work. Coach (Bruce) Heppler thinks it's the best championship that has ever been conducted. Folks in and around the business pulled me aside to let me know that our folks did an amazing job. Having that positive vibe and impression about Georgia Tech among our peers and collegues can only be a good thing. It enabled me to see our folks level of commitment and work at a high level. They proved they were willing and able to do that.
Part 2 of 3 will be published in the coming days.