"It has been great. You have good people around you and it makes anything easier - whether it is your job or anything you do. With Coach Fox and Coach Forbes, it is just a relationship that we had and that we have been able to continue to build that makes going to work everyday, that makes everything at Carolina, a whole lot more fun and easier. My transition has been about as smooth as I think it could have gone. All we try to do is work hard and surround ourselves with good people, including the players, and so far so good."
What has it been like to take over the third base coaching duties from Coach Fox after he had manned the box for his entire coaching career?
"It has been fun - it has been a lot of fun. I think that Coach wanted to get in the dugout and I think he enjoys being in the dugout and he wanted me to get out in the third base coaching box and it had been a while since I had done that. The last time that I had done that was when I was the head coach in the summer league with the Wilmington Sharks, but it is like riding a bike. You put yourself in those situations and your instincts take over. Whether it is sending the runner or whatever you are doing and trying to make sure that guys are doing what they are supposed to be doing on the bases. I think that is the biggest part - that your instincts as a player come back to help you there. I have had a great, great time out there on the field this season."
You and Coach Forbes were described as "relentless and tireless recruiters" by Andy Partin, the Dirtbags coach and Impact publisher. How would you describe your staff's commitment to, and style of, recruiting?
"We want to take pride in being as through as we can possibly be. The recruiting process is going so fast right now - you have no choice but to dive headfirst into any of these young men that number one has the kind of talent to play at North Carolina but then number two has the character and the commitment to make sure that we stay with our level of play. For us you are only going to find out those kind of factors one way and that is to continue to work, work, work. Find people who know these kids better than we do to a certain extent, especially their work habits off the fiend and the way they go about their business. Whether that is being on the phone, e-mailing Lord knows how many times a day and trying to make sure that we are doing everything we can on our end to make sure that we are exhausting all options - talking with the young man's summer team coach, the young man's high school coach.
"The easy part is to go out to watch games - it is easy to see who can play. It is the other factors that you have got to have involved too with a young man that is going to allow them to get them in your program -to see if they can be like a Chad Flack, a Josh Horton, a Robert Woodard. Those kids that were so committed to Carolina Baseball and so committed to getting to Omaha. Then the program gets to Omaha, then there is only one way that you have been able to stay in Omaha, that is because of the type of kids that we have in our program. You do not have to look any further than that - people like Dustin [Ackley] and Kyle [Seager], who were just great kids who came from great families and that had that character and the commitment to keep getting better every day.
"That is is the one thing in recruiting that sometimes you have a hard time being able to evaluate. You don't have a chance to get to know these kids because they are making decisions so early that we have to do everything we can to get to know these young men and their families and build a relationship with them. That is the only way to do it is to keep working - don't stop - because when you do, somebody else will."
The other main focus of your position is working with the infielders on the team - this season you have two new starters that are both adapting to a new position in Dillon Hazlett at first base and Levi Michael at second base. Can you discuss how you and the other coaches prepared them for the season in their new roles?
"Those two kids are very athletic and when you are a good athlete I think that it is not difficult to make that kind of transition. We put those guys in the fall and in the preseason in the position to get a lot of reps and get a lot of looks at different types of plays or different situations that we are going to be involved in come game time. So that way when they get in the situation in the game there is no panic or thought about where to go with this or what should I do when the ball is hit to me.
"Their athleticism is the number one reason why it has been a smooth transition but I think that we do a great job - and Coach Fox is the ultimate practice coach. He loves practice and it shows and it rubs off on our guys because it puts them in a situation where they are going to get a lot of work and they are going to do it at a high level and it shows up in the games. I think that Levi and Dillon have done a great job on the corners for us. Dillon has impressed a lot at first base - he has a lot of instinct and made a lot of plays over there that may look easy in the stands but they are not easy to make."