Back To The Future With Josh Holliday

I was working at KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City when I traveled to Omaha, Neb., in 1987 to cover Oklahoma State in the College World Series. On the day before the tournament began, as the Cowboys were unloading their bus and preparing to head into old Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium for a workout, the media cornered head coach Gary Ward and I asked Ward how he was feeling about the start of the tournament.

Ward addressed everything imaginable outside of the pursuit of world peace for the next nine minutes and 14 seconds. I used bits and pieces of that answer for the next week, even after the Cowboys were two or thre games deep into the College World Series. That was Ward. He was full of talk, but talk that meant something.

He also was driven by passion, the passion for baseball, for his players, and for Oklahoma State.

On Friday afternoon, OSU athletic director MIke Holder announced a short search had concluded and that Josh Holliday was coming home to be the new head baseball coach at his alma mater.

Holliday is the son of long-time Oklahoma State assistant coach Tom Holliday, who served with Ward. It was Tom Holliday that succeeded Ward, and it was Josh Holliday that grew up watching Ward's teams, played for his dad, coached for his dad, and inherited all the passion posible for Oklahoma State baseball.

Holliday recently has coached at Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Vanderbilt while developing the reputation of being a top young assistant and one of the best recruiters in the nation.

One listen to the press conference where he was introduced by Holder, or his answer to any number of question including mine on what it will be like to recruit to Oklahoma State, and it was obvious the passion is back. It was an answer where he said it will be easy because his message will be delivered from the heart after spending several minutes, more like five, actually practicing his pitch on the press conference audience.

Cowboys baseball radio voice Rex Holt proclaimed his job just got easier because he will only have to likely ask two questions during the 30-minute radio coaches show as Holliday's two answers will fill the time.

"He's the best of the very best," said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin, Holliday's most recent boss. "He has rare qualities, is very smart, but humble and is a tremendous teacher. He is in coaching for the right reasons. I love he, his wife, and his kids.

"They are a perfect college baseball family. Oklahoma State is very fortunate to have Josh and his family back in Stillwater. The community will experience a very positive and healthy culture because of his presence. Personally, we will miss Josh and his family greatly."

I understand what Corbin means and I saw it when Josh was just a player. Even then he was coaching. He could coach his teammates out of slumps.

One time, I asked Josh if he would work with my son, Zach. He was 11 years old at the time and in a slump that a kid thinks will keep him from hitting the ball ever again. Two hours with Josh and Zach went on a one-month tear that included eight home runs and an average close to .500. It was mental and Holliday was able to create a positive mental outlook in a little kid, something he know does quite well with college baseball players and is capable of doing with college baseball fans and in Stillwater there are a number of them that need it.

A little dose of passion will be good too.


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