New Alabama baseball coach Rob Vaughn is already 1-0 if you count the way he won his introductory press conference on Tuesday afternoon. Vaughn is the 33rd baseball coach in the University of Alabama history and was presented a number 33 jersey by University President Stuart Bell and Athletics Director Greg Byrne prior to speaking to assorted media members, athletic department staff, and boosters of the program.
After opening remarks from the voice of Alabama baseball Chris Stewart, Byrne gave a quick overview of his process of hiring coach Vaughn. Byrne mentioned talking to 27 coaches during his six week search, and kept coming back to Vaughn as his number one candidate. The Alabama AD said he talked to many of Vaughn’s former players to get an idea of the man. The former players were generous with the praise for their former mentor, saying that he cared about them as people, students, players, and their life beyond the playing field. The athletes all said you can always go to coach Vaughn with anything, baseball related or otherwise. Many said that it didn't matter if you were the star of the team or the occasional pinch runner, everyone had a place on the team and all felt included. “Culture” was a word that repeatedly was used in describing their tenures with Vaughn. “True” and “genuine” were other terms used.
After Byrne introduced Vaughn, the new head man got emotional in thanking his parents, wife, and two young sons, who were all in attendance. Vaughn praised his dad for teaching him work ethic - the elder Vaughn worked two weeks on and two weeks off in Alaska oil lines, despite living in Texas. With his father gone so often, Vaughn said he and his mother were extremely close and went through everything together. Vaughn continued that coaches can't do what they do without the support and help of the wives. Former players and former coaches were mentioned next and he thanked them for all they had done for him. Coach Brad Hill gave Vaughan his first opportunity in coaching as volunteer coach at Kansas State. Despite being a Mechanical Engineering major, the pull of the diamond was too great to ignore.
After a couple of years at Kansas State, the University of Maryland called and hired Vaughn as 25 year old and named him recruiting coordinator despite never having recruited before. Obviously Vaughn did an incredible job because within four years he was named head coach at only 29 years old. Maryland had unprecedented success in Vaughn’s six years at the helm.
What drew Vaughn to Alabama? It’s easy, everyone knows the brand, but Greg Byrne and JJ (Tide pitching coach and interim head coach Jason Jackson) as well. Vaughn said “I watched the magical run the team made under JJ this spring and was so impressed. I really feel they were an Omaha bound team.” Vaughn also said another factor was “the SEC, everyone knows it is the best brand, most competitive league.... This opportunity is exciting, there is pressure and expectations, but we are built for this.” Vaughn went on the mention the great history of Alabama baseball: “16 first team All-Americans, 69 big league players, 14 SEC Championships, seven SEC Tournament Championships, 2700 wins, the list goes on and on.”
In his 24 hours or so in Tuscaloosa, Vaughn met coach Nick Saban and said of the experience “I almost passed out... the best coach of all time right down the street from here.” He also called out Nate Oats and Patrick Murphy as “one of the best softball coaches in the country... You see elite level coaches.”
Vaughn said he is a people person that wants to engage the community and keep The Joe hopping like he saw it during the recent Regional. As an assistant at Maryland, Vaughn and the Terps helped open the New Joe in 2017 with a series with Alabama. Vaughn’s wife, Kayleigh, was pregnant with their oldest son Wyatt at the time and they made the trip. Wyatt was already decked out in Bama gear and ready to cheer on dad’s new team.
Philosophy wise Vaughn has been known as an offensive coach. His teams have always been good in the batter’s box, and with Jackson staying on as pitching coach the team should be well equipped in all aspects of play. Vaughn mentioned the “wolf pack” approach to hitting. Vaughn explained that wolf packs don't attack alone and each wolf has their job, whether it is to attack the leg of their prey, or other parts of the body. Offensively, each player does his job like the pack, could be a walk, a hit by pitch, a sac bunt, stolen base, extra base hit or a key ground out to the right side. Do whatever it takes to be successful.
Vaughn said he would like to focus on regional players in Alabama and surrounding states, but isn't afraid to go nationally in recruiting. The key is to evaluate players, that he doesn't really have to sell Alabama - Alabama sells itself. He follows “the law of attraction, like minded peopled draw like minded people.” Vaughn wants hard workers that he can help mold into not only great players, but eventually great husbands, great fathers, great leaders for their families and communities.
Vaughn closed with that the family is “excited to make Tuscaloosa home, and it is time to knock down the gates to Omaha”. Vaughn finished up with a hearty “Roll Tide!”
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