Winning Confidence

Just one look was all it took, and Cliff Godwin knew Oxford felt like home.

"When we played here in '08 when I was (an assistant) at LSU, the (Oxford-University) stadium was under construction. But I had a pretty good feel of Oxford," said Ole Miss' newest baseball assistant coach. "Once I got here and stepped foot on campus, I was like ‘This is me.' I'm from a small town in North Carolina. I played at East Carolina, which is a college town. This is it. The biggest. The best. Ole Miss baseball. I know we can compete for a national championship here."

Godwin, hired to lift the Rebels' hitting and offensive production, met members of the media today. He won't waste any time meeting future Ole Miss baseball players.

"I'll hit the road Friday recruiting," said Godwin, who has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Central Florida. "This time of year is vital for recruiting, and it's a two-man job. Carl (Lafferty) and I have already sat down, we've mapped it out, we've looked at depth charts. We know what we need, and we're going to hit the road running."

Some of the characteristics of Godwin that are immediately apparent are his outgoing personality and his confidence. He eagerly explained his outlook and approach from an offensive standpoint.

"The bottom line is to win games," said Godwin, who has coached at Vanderbilt, Notre Dame, and LSU prior to his time at UCF. "We're going to have an offense that is dynamic, some guys that can run, guys that can bunt, handle the bat, hit and run. And we'll have some guys in the middle of the lineup that can hit the ball out of the park.

"The bats, obviously everybody is talking about it. But you can still have physical guys, you just can't have nine guys like you could in the past like that. You need some guys that are athletes and that can execute from a small ball standpoint. But at the same time you're not going to have nine small ball guys either. We're looking for a dynamic offense that's athletic and still have guys in the middle that can hit balls out of the park."

He has already familiarized himself with the Rebels in a short time.

"I think our team is going to be more athletic next year than it was this year," Godwin said. "I didn't see Ole Miss play a lot, but from talking with Coach Bianco the incoming recruiting class is going to be very good. So there is going to be more athleticism so to speak. And I've watched all the returning guys, I've actually watched all their swings on film. We'll be fine. We'll be fine offensively next year."

Cliff Godwin
Ole Miss Athletics Media Relations
There's that confidence again, and he's appreciative to get a chance to work at a program he knows has potential to be among the best in the country every year.

"I'm thankful to Coach (Mike) Bianco and Ole Miss to be here," Godwin said. "I accepted this job for a couple of reasons. One of the main reasons is to get Ole Miss baseball to the College World Series. Everywhere I've coached, that's been our goal. I experienced it at a place we don't like to mention a whole lot and that's LSU. It was great. Got UCF going on the right track. And now I'm here to help Ole Miss in any way I can to get to Omaha. That's the bottom line. We're going to do it the right way. Hit the recruiting trail hard with Carl and coach the kids up and get them better."

Other notable Godwin comments from today's media gathering:

On how he heard about the job at Ole Miss:

"I heard about the opening, but in our world I felt really loyal to Terry Rooney, the head coach at UCF. I did not reach out to Coach Bianco behind the scenes, because I didn't feel like that was the right thing to do. I kind of heard through the grapevine that would I have interest? The coaching circle is kind of like a fraternity. Would you have interest, and obviously I was very interested. Coach Bianco called Coach Rooney to ask permission to speak. Once I spoke to him he asked me to come for an interview. I assume I did OK in the interview since he hired me."

On helping build a strong program in a short time at UCF:

"I have to be honest with you, it was a little bit tougher than I thought it would be to get UCF to where it is today, just because the state of Florida is so competitive. But we've done a really good job there and Conference USA is tough. It's not the SEC but it's a lot better than what the people from the outside looking in think it is."

On any prior relationship with Mike Bianco:

"I've known Coach Bianco from a distance since I was the operations guy at Vanderbilt, coaching against him. Obviously when I got to LSU there are stories about Coach Bianco and all the national championships and all the Coach (Skip) Bertman stories. I never knew him personally until I went to his house and had dinner last Sunday night. From a professional standpoint he's obviously very well respected. I love his intensity in the dugout. I've heard a lot of great things about him through other coaches that I have a personal relationship with."

On Ole Miss' recent success in recruiting Florida:

"Obviously Ole Miss has done a good job in Florida recruiting. Two incoming freshmen from Florida, Sikes Orvis and Auston Bousfield, we recruited them at UCF. I like them. If we'd have had a need I would have gone head to head with Ole Miss to try to get them. But we just didn't have a need for that position. They are very good players. There are some guys on the team from Florida previously, Austin Anderson (being one). I've definitely seen a lot of guys play that are in the program already."

On his role on gameday:

"It's going to be Coach Bianco's show. We're going to have a lot of communication from a day to day standpoint, from developing the hitters to get them to do what Coach Bianco wants to do. That's going to be my responsibility. But it's going to be a working relationship. It's not like that I'm not going to have any say-so. (It's not like) me and him are not going to talk between innings. He's still going to call the signs and stuff like that. My job is to get them better, be able to get done what he's looking to get done."

OM Spirit Top Stories