What was it like for you and your staff during the July recruiting evaluation period?
"I thought it went great. A lot of people throughout the country are excited for us and believe we will do a good job here at Mississippi State. I love my staff and know that they worked very hard. And as of August 13th, we haven't been told no by anybody that we have talked to about Mississippi State. We are excited about bringing kids in during the fall during football weekends here at State. And we are currently in the process of getting those visits lined up."
It was a little different this summer since you were going out as the head coach and not an assistant coach.
"Really, it wasn't any different this summer. I wanted to be out as much as possible, especially since I am the head coach. I probably was out more days this summer than I have been out in a while (during the summer). I was out all but 1 or 2 days and one of those days I was out as a dad (watching my daughter). It was fun for me to be out as the head coach of Mississippi State and as a dad."
You mentioned that no one has said no to you so far. What has been the reception like among AAU and high school coaches and the girls that you are recruiting?
"We were very well received and there was tremendous support for us. For some of them there is a familiarity with my role at Texas A&M defensively and what we were able to accomplish over the years. There is also a real familiarity with Aqua Franklin and what she was able to accomplish there as a player. She was a coach on a Sweet Sixteen team at Kansas. And Johnnie Harris has a great reputation nationally."
The last time we talked you mentioned that there were some things that needed to be done recruiting-wise that wasn't being done. Are those things being done now?
"I think Scott (Stricklin) would tell you everything is a process right now. And we are in the process of getting getting some things and doing some things that will allow us to be successful. We are in the process of developing a foundation on how we will do things here."
What are your needs among the '13, '14 and '15 classes?
"We first had to develop a depth chart for '13s, '14s and '15s. Based on that depth chart, we will be recruiting all positions here at Mississippi State. Now, we can get on the kids in those classes and try to bring them in for unofficial visits here at Mississippi State. In fact, we have already had a lot of girls in for unofficial visits, not only for the class of '13 but '14 and '15 as well. And we have also been on the phone with some unbelievable kids that are '14s and '15s. My staff has done a great job and deserves a lot of credit for helping us to catch up."
Has it been difficult to catch up in regard to recruiting when it comes to the class of 2013?
"Yes and no. What has allowed us to get in on some class of 2013 kids is because of who we are and where we have been. We have an awareness about us (due to our past success). That is an advantage for us and allows us to catch up pretty quickly with the 2013s."
How important is the summer when it comes to recruiting?
"Your time during the summer is when you are getting your job done. If you are looking for kids in November, December and January that is very difficult. Typically, when we are out in November through February we are following the kids that we are recruiting. We are showing those kids love by being at their ball games. And when they see us at their games that's when they know we have serious interest in them."
When you recruit a prospect to Mississippi State, what are the selling points that you use?
"I think what people see about us is what you see is what you get. We are who we are. I'm a father. Johnnie is a mom. We are all very grounded and all come from very humble backgrounds. That is why I put together the staff that I have. I wanted a staff that a parent would want her daughter to be coached by. We can all coach. What is going to separate a coach when it comes to these decisions is coachability of a staff. If a kid wants to win championships and rings I can show them a box full of those. I can do that with anybody in the league. I have been a part of over 400 wins, some as an assistant coach, some as a head coach, during my 27 years as a coach. But at the end of the day, I believe we have a great understanding of the intangibles and I believe parents and recruits, once they have a chance to visit with us, understand that about us. And when you add in everything else, the campus, the facilities, the university, then they see that Mississippi State is a viable option for their daughter."
What are your thoughts about this year's team?
"I've only been able to work with them for a month in April. What I know about them is they are hard workers and very respectful kids. They did what we asked them to do. I was pleased with their efforts."
Considering you don't know much about your team, how will you prepare for the upcoming season?
"You start with your first team meeting on August 20th. Then, it starts with a 6 am conditioning workout on August 21st. They've already started with conditioning and weight lifting with strength coach Richard Akins. And from what I understand, they have done some workouts on their own. We can't be a part of any of those as coaches. With that being said, that's the handicap and the beauty of being a new head coach."
I understand the handicap but where's the beauty in that?
"(Laugh) The beauty of it is I think we have some kids who are hungry and want to win and will do whatever it takes to accomplish that. That comment has been made to me. I believe our kids are very committed. Now, our jobs as coaches is to build around that commitment and the talent that we have. And it now looks like we will have two incoming freshmen instead of one. She hasn't been cleared yet but we are hopeful. Sherise Williams (6-foot-1, three-star prospect) has worked awfully hard to put herself into a position to be at Mississippi State this season. And a lot of credit goes to her dad because he has been very supportive and paid the price to help her get into a position where she can be here. She is the type player and athlete that you will be seeing a lot of around here."
You've been a head coach at Mississippi State for a little over four months. How has it been for you so far?
"It has been great. I have enjoyed every day. I love coming to the office every day. I loved walking down the hallway and seeing the staff that I have here.
"I was at College Station (TX) yesterday (for personal reasons) and a lot of people were excited and happy for us. (While being there I realized that) Mississippi State is so much like what A&M was like when I was in school there in '81 to '84. I enjoyed it back then. And Mississippi State and Starkville have that same feel for me. I enjoyed those days and those times and I'm going to enjoy my time and days here."
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.