By: Terrill J. Weil
Da Boot Sports!
BATON ROUGE, LA: Today begins a new chapter in the rich and successful history of LSU Baseball. With Paul Mainieri deciding to step down and retire, the school with the baseball program that has set the standard for greatness for decades has finally ended their coaching search for their new leader. Jay Johnson is that choice.
He becomes the 26th head coach in the history of LSU baseball, and now faces the challenge to lead his new team back to Omaha and to win national championships.
LSU Athletic Director Scott Woodward's new head coach hire, has been a head coach at three different schools. (2005 - at Point Loma Nazarene finishing with a 37-16 record: .... 2014-'15 - Nevada finishing with 72-42 record: .... 2016-'21 - Arizona finishing with a 208-114 record with two appearances in Omaha: .... His overall record as a head coach as he arrives in Baton Rouge stands at: 316-172.) ....
Johnson was born and raised in Oroville, California. He would go on to graduate from Oroville High School in 1995 and began his college baseball playing career at Shasta College, a junior college located in Redding, California in 1997. After two seasons he would transfer to Point Loma Nazarene in 1998 to complete his college career. He would start at second base in 1999 and 2000.
Scott Woodward would begin the press conference stating, “I wanted to hire a winner, someone who had proven he knew how to build championship programs and bring them to Omaha. That's Jay Johnson. Most of all, I wanted to hire someone who was ready. Ready for the moment. Ready for the expectations. Ready to win championships. And there is no one in the world more ready than Jay Johnson, because he has been preparing for this moment his whole life.” before introducing his new baseball coach.
Johnson would take the podium. "I don't think I can do it as well as Coach O, but Geaux Tigers! Start this thing off right. That was the only thing we need to say to start this thing off."
He would continue with, "I'm honored to be here. I'm incredibly humbled to be here. When I think about the 44 years of my entire life, I really believe every day has led me to this podium right now, to this program, and it's beyond a dream come true."
After touching on Skip Bertman and Paul Mainieri's outstanding careers, he would then turn to his
new team. "I can’t wait to look them in the eyes and talk to them, not about winning, but about what it takes to win." said Johnson. "This is LSU. This is the place in college baseball. All of my older jobs were rebuilds. This is a reboot, and that’s because of the talent Paul and his staff brought in." Then adding, "What is my goal? My goal is when you look out on that field at Alex Box Stadium, there's a brand of baseball that everybody in this state, in this community associated with this university is incredibly proud of. You know what that looks like. You've seen it. No program in college baseball has seen it on a more consistent basis than LSU. All I want to do is pour my life into continuing that."
A lot of us know the importance on a head coach surrounding himself with a top quality coaching staff. Coach Johnson knows the important of this, as he would answer a question about his process of hiring a staff. "Yes, absolutely. Working very diligently with that. I will not sacrifice time to make sure we have the right people. The most important people in influencing the players that we all want to play great, be great students and be great people is the coaching staff, and we spend more time with them than their own families, so I'm working diligently."
"I'm talking to a lot of people. It is not a narrow search because it's too important to get that right. We need a staff that can recruit at an elite level, meaning evaluating talent, evaluating players that are worthy of playing on this field, that have the makeup, character and ability to do that and do it in a way that's going to help us win championships, and that's a skill that has to be developed."
"And then from a development standpoint, finding a pitching coach, finding an assistant hitting coach that they want to put their trust in to be developed so check achieve their dream of being a Major League player, and while they're on their way to being a Major League player, they're helping LSU to win a lot of baseball games. We're working as fast as we can to get the right person."
After someone mentioned the LSU fan base in a question, Johnson would say, "That's a great question. You mentioned the fan base. That's another reason I wanted to come. I want passionate people that want to achieve elite things around me. So when I mention our team, the fans are a part of that."
"With that being said, we're going to take the best parts of that. There's only a handful of programs around the country that you can count where this many people show up at a college baseball game, and what I want to do, what I think it is important that we do, is create the best home-field advantage in college baseball, and I've heard that's what we have here, and then put a product on the field that they're extremely proud of, that when the Tigers show up, they know what they're going to get. They can't wait to get to the ballpark after a long day of work and they can't wait to high-five the players down the line after a big win, and they can't wait to send their kids to baseball camp because they feel like they're a part of this thing. For me, I only see that as a positive."
A couple of other great quotes from Johnson while answering media questions....
"I’m going to work harder than any other baseball coach in the country – any coach in the country. Our players are going to work harder than anyone in the country. We aren’t going to win because Tigers is on our chest, but because of the hearts beating in those chests. Ultimately I want teams to hate to play us, and I think we accomplished that the last couple offensive teams that we had, and that's what I want to do at LSU."
Then Johnson would say this about Alex Box Stadium....
"This is not college baseball," he said of the stadium. "This is the Yankee Stadium of college baseball. It's a beautiful place. We're going to use it to recruit.
After the conclusion of the indoor press conference in the Champions Club Room, Johnson would head into Alex Box Stadium to greet the fans on hand, then sit down with the voice of the Tigers, Chris Blair to answer a few questions submitted by fans over the last couple of days.
One of the questions was about the possibility of changing LSU's uniforms. He is obviously a coach who believes in tradition. He looked at the crowd and asked, "Do you guys see anything wrong with the uniforms?" Then went on to say, "This program has an identity that is very clear when you put on a purple jersey, when you put on a gold jersey, when you put on the all white. What you see is what you're going to get because the tradition of this program is special."
Johnson couldn't have said it any better.... I'm loving it...
It was a great press conference for the new head coach who is obviously very excited to be here in Baton Rouge. Everything said was very encouraging and exciting. After today, I think Woodward, as usual, made the correct choice.
Grab your shades Tiger fans because the future of LSU Baseball looks very bright. GEAUX TIGERS!!!
Photo Below By: Michael Bacigalupi
Photos Below By: Jonathan Mailhes