"The tie is a nice tough for today, let's say," he said. "I didn't quite have the guts to buy the tie on my interview, but I saw them on the rack and when I got the call yesterday I thought, ‘I have to stop in and pick one of those up for the press conference tomorrow.'"
A native of Springfield and a Kent State graduate, Beals – hired Wednesday and announced today as the Buckeyes' 11th head coach and fourth since 1951 – was much more comfortable with the scarlet baseball cap on his head during a sunny day at Bill Davis Stadium.
"I am very much a baseball coach," Beals said. "I am glad that we set this up on the field and I'm glad to have a hat on. I'm a baseball guy. I'm going to be entrenched with our team right down to being behind the L-screen feeding pitches during drills. I will be right there with the guys. One thing I firmly believe is the way I see getting the most out of our players is making sure they know that you're in it with them."
Formerly the head coach at Ball State, Beals replaces Bob Todd, who put the Buckeye program back on the national map during his 23 years before retiring following the 2010 season.
Beals spent the last eight years at Ball State, compiling a record of 243-202 (117-80 Mid-American Conference). His Cardinals won three MAC Western Division titles and made the NCAA tournament as the MAC overall champions in 2006. This past year, Ball State was 29-29, including 19-8 in MAC play, despite the fourth hardest schedule in Division I baseball.
But while those numbers showed Ohio State that Beals has the ability to coach winning baseball, the OSU administration was more interested in his personality and how it fit into the Buckeye culture. When Beals arrived Friday for his interview, one thing stood out.
"It was really his passion," associate athletic director Chris Schneider said. "It's not just his passion for the game of baseball, but it was his passion for the student-athletes that he recruits. He brings them to the institution not just to develop as baseball players but as fine individuals in the classroom but also the community. That passion came across very clear during this process.
"We believe his ideals, his goals and the way that he lives are a perfect fit for us here at Ohio State."
While it was clear that interview moved Beals to the top of Ohio State's list – a group that also included Kent State head man Scott Stricklin, Louisville assistant Chris Lemonis and Virginia assistant Kevin McMullan – he said he did nothing special for the meeting.
"As I was preparing for it, there was about two nights before that I just got a calm over me and I told my wife, I was like, ‘You know what? I just have to relax. I have to be myself. They have to know who Greg Beals is at the end of the day. They have to know who I am and what I'm about,' " he said. "They said I did a good job, but hopefully that was conveyed."
Beals, whose father Keith coached summer baseball in the Connie Mack League, attended Kenton Ridge High School in Springfield, the alma mater of former major leaguer pitchers Dustin Hermanson, Rick White and Dave Burba. However, the new Buckeye coach was a catcher at Kent State before spending three years in the New York Mets organization. After that, he was an assistant coach in charge of recruiting at Kent State for nine seasons.
As an Ohio native, he admitted he was happy to be getting back to the Buckeye State, where he still has many of his recruiting ties.
"When you go around the world and the country and people ask where you're from and say from Ohio, people say ‘Oh yeah? You're a Buckeye,'" Beals said. "I've always answered, ‘Yeah,' and today I'm a Buckeye and I'm proud of that.
"After spending a whole day here, I was comfortable telling everybody that I can call this a destination job."
Beals said the assistant coaching jobs on his staff will be open per university protocol, but it is widely expected he will bring his pitching coach, one-time OSU hurler Mike Stafford, with him.