A Q&A With Vic Schaefer

A Q&A with new Mississippi State women's head basketball coach Vic Schaefer.

Just listening to you talk I can feel the emotions you have about your kids. I can see you as being a guy who the players could see as a second dad.
"I do think that our kids know that if they are in a spot they know they can call Coach Schaefer. They know that I love them unconditionally. I will be there to pat them on the back when they do great and I'm going to be there to help you up when you fall down. But that's part of our job as coaches.

"The most valuable piece of advice that I have received in coaching came from my wife. When we first got married, she told me if (your players) don't like you they aren't going to play hard for you. That advice changed my career. With girls, they have to know that you care about them. They know at the end of the day I love them and care about them. And I think that is why they play so hard for me defensively."

You have been at Texas A&M for a good number of years. What caused you to decide to leave Texas A&M and take this job?
"It took a special job and a special place. I needed to make sure it was right for my family and right for my career. Did it take a lot? Yes, it took a lot but Mississippi State offers a lot. They offer a lot of opportunity for success. They are in the Southeastern Conference where I will go against some of the best coaches in the country. I'm excited about that opportunity. It's a great challenge but one that I feel I am up to."

What are your plans for a coaching staff? Do you plan on retaining anyone?
"I really don't have the time right now to work on that. I'm really focusing on getting (Texas A&M) through the next two rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Then, I'll hit the road running. I talked to Scott (Stricklin) this morning about getting on the road as quick as I can. (But as for assistant coaches) I'm going to take my time so I can get the right people for Mississippi State. That's the most important thing - getting the right people."

Obviously, you wouldn't have taken this coaching job if you didn't feel you could be successful. What was it about Mississippi State that causes you to believe you can be successful?
"We have a great education environment, we have great facilities, it is a beautiful campus. Young people want to see things instantly. That's the way it is today due to social media, there are instant responses. And I think you get that when you walk onto this campus and see the campus and see the facilities. The facilities tell them that we feel basketball is important here. Plus, we play in a great conference where they will be able to play against great teams. Another important thing is our (athletic department) staff and what we are going to do for those young people. We are going to provide them with a four-year experience that they will carry with them for their lifetime that they can't get anywhere else."

You mentioned in your opening statement about keeping kids off the front page and on the sports page. Talk about that statement.
"People talk about last year's team (a team that won the national championship). People want to know what our secret was with that team. But people don't know the character of that team. We have always prided ourselves on recruiting high-character kids, not characters. In recruiting, now-a-days, you can only talk to them once a week, so it's difficult to get to know them and how big of a heart they have. That's one of the key things in recruiting. And something that I have learned from (Texas A&M head) Coach (Gary) Blair (that helps me with that); be patient and do your homework so you can find those type kids. Quite frankly, not everybody can play the way we do - it's not for everybody because it's not easy. But what it is is it's successful. And at the end of the day, it's not easy to have fun if you aren't winning.

"I think our kids will tell you it is fun winning, it's fun making (our opponents) misery, it's fun playing as hard as you can. It's fun when a crowd stands up on their feet when a kid takes a charge and they remain in their seats and claps their hands when someone scores a basket. I think that is how our kids have learned what is most important and what really gets our fans going. We are going to have that same excitement here."

Your nickname is Secretary of Defense. How did you get that nickname?
"I'm not really sure where it came from. But over the years I have earned the right from Coach (Blair) to handle all of our defenses and to prepare every gameplan. Once again, I'm not really sure where it came from but it's really about having great players who are willing to play their guts out for you."

When Scott called you and offered you the head coaching position what were your first thoughts?
"My first thoughts were that I have an opportunity to be a head coach in the SEC at a university that I know about and that a lot of people have a lot of respect for. I called my wife and told her here is our opportunity, whether we are ready or not let's do it. My wife was here a week ago Tuesday. She spent the day here with Scott and his wife and the baseball coach's wife. When she came home she said, Vic, we can win there and we can win big there. She kept thinking there might be a roadblock here but she never ran into it while here."

What are the things that you feel will sell Mississippi State to future recruits.
"The kids experience won't be short changed one bit. Their experiences will be the same as what they are doing at Knoxville, Athens or anywhere else. They are going to get a great education. They are going to eat the same meals, stay in the same hotels (on the road). The community of Starkville will embrace our kids just like they do at College Station (Texas). But I would also argue that they will have a greater experience here because of our facilities. You look around the country and there are not a lot of people who have the type facilities that we have."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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