This guy means business. (photo: Julie Bennett, al.com)
New Auburn Baseball Coach Sunny Golloway went out on a limb after being hired to take over the Tiger program. He boldly declared Auburn would not only have a good season in his first year but would play for a national championship in Omaha.
Yet before Tuesday’s win over Alabama A&M, his team was sitting at 3-4 including an embarrassing 9-3 loss to Alabama State a week ago. Auburn went 1-3 for the week, defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff but loosing to Ala. State, California and East Tennessee State. Adding insult to injury, the Tigers only have six extra base hits through eight games with a team batting average of .208. The early season slide prompted some unusual steps from the first year skipper.
As Golloway sees it some of his veteran players have not been happy with his decission to play six freshman ahead of 19 upper classmen. So in a move rarely if ever seen by coaches during the season… he talked with eight of those players Sunday, announcing afterwards that three of them – Senior outfielder Hunter Kelley, senior first baseman Patrick Savage, and junior pitcher Chase Williamson would no longer be on the team.
Kelley, who started 30 games last year, told the Anniston Star that he was devastated. He said the coach just told him he needed to quit the team.”I told him, I totally disagree with what you’re saying. I’ve had a good attitude all year. I’ve busted my ass all fall to be part of this team, to help this team.” When Kelley refused to quit as his teammates had, he was dismissed. Golloway says his actions were necessary to turn the Auburn program around.
He later hinted the three may not be the last veterans to see the door. He said he wants players that pull for whoever is in the line up and not just for them selves. “That’s why we’ve minimized our roster and why we will continue to minimize our roster until our attitude and effort are there. If the attitude and effort aren’t there, you aren’t going to be here.”
Tough words and even tougher actions from a first year coach but Golloway insist it’s what it will take to build a championship contending program. He said he can’t build that contender until all of his players are on the same page.
The Tigers were definitely on the same page last night as Auburn improved to 4-4 after their 7-3 drubbing of Alabama A&M. The Coach said he could see a difference in his team already. “Several of the guys realized `I want to be here. I want to do whatever it takes and I want to win.’”
Will this action pay dividends for the end of the season? Will it help or hurt team chemistry? I don’t know but one things for certain, his players have no doubt this morning that Golloway means business. And despite the rough start to the season, he says he still means it when he says, “We are going to Omaha this year. There is no doubt in my mind.”
Tags: AubTigerman, Auburn Baseball, Auburn blogs, Chase Williamson, Hunter Kelley, Patrick Savage., sec blogs, Sunny Golloway, Track 'em Tigers