Baseball questions dominate this segment.
Q: Trojan Conquest said:
What are your ideas of how to get the baseball program back to competing for a PAC title? How do you get enough good players to come to an expensive private school, when there are only 11.7 scholarships available? How does Stanford and others do it?
A: It is certainly a hurdle for private schools but not impossible. For many years, Mike Gillespie had USC among the best programs in the nation. There are several things you need to do because the job is much tougher than at the Cal State or UC schools. First, you need to recruit a core of top players. But some of these players need to be from the JC level. Why? Because it is often a guessing game on whether the elite high school players will get drafted high enough to turn pro. So you need to be plugged in with JC coaches to find the guys that maybe didn’t have grades out of high school but are going to offer immediate help.
The other thing you need is walk-ons. That means working hard to get players who can receive financial aid and can afford to pay some tuition. When USC went to the College World Series about 10 years ago, there were walk-ons starting.
That is why if you are the USC coach, you need to be able to really hustle and put the program together in unconventional ways.
Q: twenty-twenty said:
After two losing seasons, why should SC retain Frank Cruz as baseball coach? On paper, we look weaker next season. The rest of the conference is strong. Why not chart a new direction and hire a big-name coach who can attract great players and productive walk-ons. This season was a mess in batting, fielding, pitching and base running.
A: I give Frank Cruz some leeway because he inherited the mess left by Chad Kreuter. But I do feel this next year needs something positive to happen. I think a big part will be whether someone Rio Ruiz actually shows up or turns pro. USC needs some top players like him to make an immediate impact. The Pac-12 is really tough right now and USC’s going to be mired at the bottom of the standings if it doesn’t bring in some bona-fide stars. Whether that happens under Cruz remains to be seen.
Q: steve49 said:
What is USC planning to do to the Coliseum now that they are in charge?
A: As I’ve said, replacing all 90,000 seats is one of the first things that will happen. The locker rooms will also be redone and I think parking will also improve. I’ve also heard the restrooms will be upgraded.