bleedCrimson.net: This is your first head coaching job obviously and coming back to your alma mater and being able to bring your wife back to the area that she’s from has to a huge plus for you.
Brian Green: Yeah. When this thing first happened and it was one of the earlier jobs to open up this summer, I prayed, I hoped, I did everything I could to prepare to put myself in a position to be a candidate of quality for Dr. Boston. I have always to be the head coach of this program. The fact of bringing Becki back and seeing her family and being close to my family in California is icing on the cake. My heart is here within this community and this program. I loved it here. I’m excited to get out and recruit because I’m going to be really passionate about bringing people here. It’ll be an honest sell.
bc.net: Obviously you’re no stranger to the area and recruiting the west coast, spending time out at Hawai’i and in California. What is the biggest selling point for you for bringing kids into Las Cruces and New Mexico State?
BG: I think it’ll change. I hope that it changes and I say that because in three years I hope that we’re selling that we’ve got a track record of going to the postseason and producing winning teams and filling up the stands. Early on our mission will be simple in terms of our recruiting approach and what we’re going to sell is Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley. We’re going to sell the campus and the student experience at New Mexico State. It needs to be sold because it’s special. Then we’re really going to sell the recruiting and the developing from the coaching staff that we’re putting together which we’re close on. It’s going to have a track record of producing professional talent where kids are improving their draft status and they’re getting a chance to move on in professional baseball. Then the coaching staff that will be put together will have a track record of winning and getting to the postseason so those will be the two things that we’ll attack early — the recruiting and developing and the winning of the staff and then the campus and student experience at New Mexico State and then hopefully in three years we’ve changed what we’re selling and that’s that we’re winning at a high level.
bc.net: When you came out for your interview and you were looking at whether or not to throw your hat into the ring for the job, what impressed you the most about the infrastructure that was in place, what things have you identified that you’d like to improve and what’s your overall plan?
BG: I’ve always thought you can win here. I believed it as a player, I believed it as a coach and I think there’s a real community and fan base that’s ready to be excited. That’s something that really has always drawn me to wanting to be the head coach here. I’ve always thought you could do something with the weather and the community and that was a big draw for me. Then obviously the school and all that is great but with the onset of the new facilities and what’s happening there with the improvement to the facilities, you’ve got a potential fan base that’s there, you’ve got facilities that are improving at a dramatic rate, you’ve got a conference that hasn’t been a conference that’s had a power so that’s kind of up for grabs. You look at those three things which I did and you just think to yourself that this is a no-brainer, forgetting the fact of my attachment to the school, just trying to be really open minded and looking at it as an outsider, it was a no-brainer and then coupling that with my emotional attachment to it, it was just pedal down and let’s go!
bc.net: Obviously it’s a little late in the summer and it’s late in the recruiting period. What’s your plan of attack for trying to put together a recruiting class for this upcoming season?
BG: That’s a good question. With only a couple weeks left until the kids show up on campus obviously, there’s some money that’s available that we’ll just put into the 2015 recruiting class. We’ve missed some of the summer but we know that we’ve got the entire fall to work and into next spring. The fall is going to be a very important piece for us from September until the signing period in November. We’ve got some money to play with. There was only one recruit that was brought in so we’ve got a large pool. Our plan is simple and our staff is a staff that will be put together with knowledge of this recruiting area, the southwest region. We want to work from the foundation of we’re going to build it here first and any potential New Mexico player that’s available we’re going to attack him and be really aggressive with him and then move to El Paso, Colorado, Arizona and California and be as aggressive as we can over the next two months. The recruiting is going to be the number one priority for us aside from the strength training and the culture of our team over the course of the next three months.
bc.net: Over your various stops at other schools, at Kentucky most recently, out at Hawai’i and UCLA and also your time at New Mexico State as a player and a coach, what are some things you’ve taken away from those head coaches that you’re really excited as a first time head coach to put into practice?
BG: There are really four coaches that have really impacted me and there are things that are so measurable that I’ll take from them. First is Coach Avent. When I played for Elliot and coached with him, it was all about team. It was all about unity. It was all about being aggressive. I shared a story today about Elliot. I was one of the new players and we were running up the hill on the back of Aggie Memorial and I was leading the running, I was up in front, I thought I was doing a good job, I was going as hard as I could and Elliot pulled the team together and he said, “We’re not going to be great if we just have guys who are interested in being first. We’re going to be great if the guys who want to be first understand that being first actually means pulling people with you and if we get that we’re going to be a great team.” That’s how he coached. That’s what I took from him and that’s what’s always stuck with me.
Rich Hill at University of San Diego, he’s probably one of the biggest mentors of my coaching life. His entire thing is about the emotional contagion, positive energy, family, culture and he’s been extremely successful. That was a very unique and different environment when I worked for him which I’ll take from him.
Coach Savage when I coached at UCLA, just the epitome of a class program and really taught me the value of how to recruit in terms of having a recruiting system. From evaluation to communication amongst the staff to networking and just actually evaluating players and how you do it. That is huge.
With Coach Henderson, being in the SEC, he’s really taught me the concept of staying close with your players because when it gets tough if you don’t have that relationship with them they’ll leave you and they’ve gotta stick with you when it gets tough. Those are the four coaches that have really impacted me and really sucked things into my head and my brain and said make sure you’re doing these things when you get your chance some day.
bc.net: As you know Presley Askew Field is a very offensively friendly park and you have a strong reputation as an offensive coach but from a pitching standpoint, what is your strategy going to be from a pitching standpoint just knowing the way that pitchers can get abused in Las Cruces?
BG: We are the Colorado Rockies of college baseball. I’ve talked a lot about this and shared this with many coaches about this program, I think from a recruiting standpoint you have to understand what this place is, you’re also going to go on the road but in knowing what this place is and knowing what you can potentially attract it’ll be really important for us to go out and recruit guys who aren’t necessarily 6-5 and professional bodies because what we need to recruit are guys who have the ability to throw a secondary pitch for a strike and have some movement and pound the zone. Those guys are out there. We need to find a guy, maybe your pitching staff is made up of a lot of guys we would classify as mixers. Then allowing your park to benefit from that offensively. With the new bats, I know the ball is changing a little bit but with the new bats it’s all about throwing strikes. In our park, whether you’re throwing the ball 95 miles per hour or 86, if it’s up when the wind is blowing, it just doesn’t matter, it’s gone. So, the secondary stuff, the mixer approach, that’s where we’ll spend our money but we’ll spend our money on position players and be one of the best offenses in the league.
bc.net: From a recruiting standpoint what type of player are you looking for on offense?
BG: I’m looking for balance. I think any time you find yourself too one-sided you open yourself up to getting beat, especially late when it really matters. I’d really like to recruit some balance and by balance meaning a couple runners, one at the top and one at the bottom. But in terms of what we look for as a hitter, the things you have to be able to evaluate are does he have balance, does he have rhythm and does he have the ability to recognize pitches. If he has those three things I think you can do a lot with a hitter. But those are the things we’ll look for on the front end and then when they get here the best thing we’ll be able to do for them is to make them understand that we cannot get beat in the weight room and strength and conditioning is going to be at the core of what we do.
bc.net: Is there anything you’ve learned from being at BCS schools that maybe is done a little bit differently than from a mid-major school that you can bring in?
BG: Wow, yeah. I think there’s a lot of things. For example, at Kentucky, I know we have a lot of resources and we have a lot of avenues and in having that your’ able to see a lot of programs and one of the things I’ll be able to take from Kentucky off the field is you may not have as many resources and people to do things for you, you’ve at least seen it and the coaching staff will be able to pick up those kind of things like the academic side of things like checking classes and acting as if you’re a tutor and assisting with the strength training and with the nutrition and educating our kids on nutrition if we don’t have a nutritionist readily available on a daily basis, we can assist there. I think if you’ve seen it done at a level where there’s a lot of money or a lot of opportunity, even if you don’t have those funds in the bank, you can still shoot for running that type of program even if you don’t have the money. Coaches can pick up the slack.
bc.net: From your time at New Mexico State as a player and assistant coach, what was the one thing you remember from that time that you look forward to enjoying?
BG: I remember the community support and I remember how big a deal it was to be an Aggie. People knew who we were, people knew all the athletes were and it was a really big deal. It’s a big-time atmosphere and it’s a big-time feeling of being here. One of the things I remember most about being a player was how much pride I had in wearing the uniform and that’s what excites me most to share to our kids, being an alum, a guy who played and coached here, started his coaching career here, graduated here, I can’t wait to share it. My number one goal is to get our kids to match where I am and how I felt when i was a player here. I had so much pride and was so proud to play here and play in the Big West and have a great schedule and that’s what I want to instill in our guys.
bc.net: Have you been able to have a chance to talk to any of the players who are returning from last year’s team?
BG: I’m in the process of inputting all the players into my phone. The only thing that matters to me on my first day on the job is that I get in touch with our players and that they hear from me. Whether it’s text, email or phone call that is job number one. My first day on the job is about getting in touch with our players and telling them where we’re going.
bc.net: When you’re talking to the players, just give me your 60-second elevator pitch that you’ll give them.
BG: I’m going to talk about the six core values and the six core characteristics of our program that we’re going to want to demonstrate and that we will on a daily basis. Team first integrity, ownership, energy positive, that we’re competitive, we have skill acquisition and that we’re a family. Those are things that I live by and they’re important to me and we’re going to start day one of understanding what those mean to us because if we do and if we follow those things, I really want to define what those are and what those mean to us, if we can do that then we’ve have a foundation and then we can start to get into a vision of where we’re going. The things they’ll hear most from me aside from the those core characteristics is what’s going to matter most about our program is that we understand our vision and where we’re going, that we understand our program is going to be about energy and about goal setting and the number one foundation of our program is going to be about culture and that culture is that New Mexico State matters more to us than anything. That’s the first thing they’ll hear from me.