|Inside Carolina audio is available to IC premium subscribers. To listen, you'll need an updated version of Windows Media Player - click here to download the software.|
"Thank you, it's nice to be up here and not be the oldest coach – thanks to (Rice coach) Wayne Graham being here (laughs). But it's great being here. It's great bringing our Mississippi State team here. I was hoping other Southeastern Conference teams would join us here. We've had always two or three; and I remember when I was at Georgia, we had four Southeastern Conference teams. But for us to be the only Southeastern team in Omaha, Nebraska, is really remarkable. Not that we don't have a good ball club, but I was just hoping we would have some sister schools with us. Because we take great pride – as all these coached do – in our conference affiliation. I've been in the conference for 30 years, so I just want to make that statement. I wish more conference schools were here, and I'm sure next year that will happen.
"We had a tough row to hoe. Going to Florida State against a very well-coached Mike Martin team, and having to go down there to a venue where they've won 33 out of 37 home games, I believe; and seven straight regionals at home. But for us to defeat a fine Stetson team – and for me to compete against one of my former graduate assistants, which the NCAA doesn't allow to happen anymore… To beat Mike Martin's team twice was a great achievement for us, because we had lost eight out of 10 game prior to that. The reason we lost those games was probably poor coaching on our part and injuries.
"When we play Mike's great North Carolina team tomorrow, seven of the position players, including the DH, will be players that did not play that position three weeks ago.
"We called our AAA farm club and got some more players in… No, we can't do that unfortunately in college baseball. But we lost four one-run games in four two-run games because we had some injuries to key players, which happens a lot. Sometimes it happens early; sometimes it happens in the middle; and sometimes it happens late. But I'm proud the way our kids responded. It's a great group of boys.
"We're here, and we're looking forward to playing the Tar Heels. North Carolina has been tough on Mississippi State. They came to our Regional several years ago and beat us there. And then they beat us also another time, I can't remember.
"So, Mike, it's our time."
"We're obviously ecstatic to be back in Omaha. I have to give my kids a lot of credit. They were very determined when they came back in the fall. Everybody knows what happened last year, and with the great series we had against Oregon State.
"I wasn't quite sure how our kids would respond in the fall when they came back, but we have a very veteran group. They were determined. The ACC wars prepare you. With all these teams up here in great leagues, and playing in those three-game series help you…
"We have a veteran group, and it's been a very easy team to coach, actually. We have eight returners from last year. We're obviously very excited to be back here, and it's an honor to be up here with all these other great coaches and great programs.
"I used Coach Polk's playbook to learn how to coach back in high school. (Turning to Polk) You're still old, even though you may not be the oldest one up here, Coach. That was a long time ago (laughs). But hopefully, Mississippi State won't run though the ACC again like they did to get here. But it's going to be an honor to play them again.
"We're just ecstatic to get back here and give it another shot."