Inside Pitch Magazine, Fall 2016

Quick Pitch: Mike Rooney – The Voice of College Baseball

Mike RooneyA former player at Notre Dame and coach at the NCAA Division I (Arizona State), NJCAA (Phoenix College) and high school (Malvern Prep) levels, Mike Rooney is now one of the foremost college baseball analysts the game has to offer. In addition to being one of the more entertaining Twitter follows (@Mike_Rooney) out there, “Roons” is as tuned in with the college game as anyone. He recently sat down with Top Coach Podcast and our friend Jack Warren. Here’s a sneak preview of the interview:

Working with Perfect Game over the summer…

“It's been really fun. I write for their website, work on prospect lists, and during the season we have our radio show on Monday nights, Sirius channel 84. Perfect Game is the crème de la crème of amateur events, so for someone like me who's a college baseball junkie, I want to see the next wave a great players in college baseball, and I get to do that.

“It’s also great to spend time with college coaches, who are out recruiting over the summer. [I was] in San Diego for the Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park and that [was] not a great moment for me because I'm 5'8 and three-quarters. I have great toughness and great charisma, but these kids, it's like 6’5” is the average height all of a sudden. It’s super fun, the talent level is amazing, but I've never felt shorter in my life!”

Thoughts on the 2016 post season…

“I thought the committee did a phenomenal job, and I love that the west coast was really fired up about not getting a regional host, that level of passion and interest really helps move the sport forward. Quite honestly I was heartbroken when Rosenblatt was closed, but I have to say that TD Ameritrade Park is a phenomenal stadium. The NCAA gets a lot of criticism, but they do an outstanding job with their baseball tournament.”

“The atmosphere in Omaha is as good as it's ever been. My experience there was once again incredible and I can't wait to get back there. The only negative is the way the park plays. I think the center field fence has to come in. You appreciate a 1-0 game if you’re a baseball junkie, but I don’t know if that’s the product we want when we’re in that national window like that.”

On the current state of college baseball…

“My belief is if you got the people at ESPN and asked them about the SEC Network, I believe they would tell you that the second-most important sport for the SEC Network is baseball, not basketball. Coaches have done such a great job in growing the product of college baseball, and there’s definitely momentum there for that exposure.”

“We’ve never had more schools and programs taking baseball seriously. The depth of good coaching in college baseball is higher than it’s ever been. This profession is challenging, it’s a lot of sacrifice. You’re not a just a baseball coach anymore, you’re a CEO with CEO expectations."

Advice to parents

“I’m not a parent but as a coach, in a lot of ways you become a pseudo-parent. Baseball is just one vehicle that is going to help raise children. At the end of the day it’s like anything else in life, I would want to put my children around as many great people as I could. The other thing that I think becomes critical is finding people that are 10-15 years older than me and poll them, what were the important things, what things do you wish you were more focused on?”

‘Dream jobs’...

“My dream jobs when I was coaching were Duke and the service academies. I did everything I could to get the Air Force job when I was at Arizona State, it just didn’t work out. Dan McDonnell was turned down for four jobs, that’s just how coaching searches work, sometimes it just doesn’t turn out the way you want it to. The military academies though, I love those places and the craziness you see at the highest levels of college baseball disappears because the mission at [military academies] is so different.”

I think Stanford would be a dream job for me. I think that’s such an incredible school in a marquis conference in arguably the best state in the union for recruiting. The school is such a neat place.”

On coaching searches...

“You see some coaching searches and you shake your head and wonder ‘how many phone calls did they really make.’ I don’t think it’s that hard to find out who the elite guys are. I know it moves fast and it these AD’s have a lot of pressure to make a quick hire. But sometimes when you need to make a hire, it’s too late to do the research.”

Inside Pitch Magazine is published six times per year by the American Baseball Coaches Association, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt association founded in 1945. Copyright American Baseball Coaches Association. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any way without prior written permission. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained herein, it is impossible to make such a guarantee. The opinions expressed herein are those of the writers.