Kevin Cooney is in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.



April 15, 2004

Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door


Rick Giancola is the highly successful football coach at Montclair State University in New Jersey. When I was hired there back in 1984, Coach G was the assistant baseball coach as well. One of the many things I learned from him was a term for when a player comes in to talk with the head coach about his playing time. More precisely, his lack of playing time is the topic of discussion.


Rick would refer to those conversations as “knocks.” You would be in the office or locker room and hear a tentative or loud knock at the door. The assistant coaches would leave, and the head coach would meet with the inquisitive player. Rick always said he liked baseball season because, as an assistant, he didn’t have to deal with “knocks” or be friendly toward the other team’s coach.


The other day, senior Evan Brannon came knocking.


Evan’s a great kid and has had some tough luck this season. He re-injured his back and lost his starting job at third base. But a few weeks ago, he was healthy enough to DH, and he did a good job against Jacksonville. Then, he didn’t see the field against Stetson, so he was curious as to his standing.


I had expected this “knock” and actually regretted not being proactive and explain my plans to Evan. I think it’s better to tell kids what’s going on rather than having them guess, but for some reason I hadn’t done this with Evan.


After our amicable talk, Evan got his chance when Alex Fonseca had to leave Saturday’s UCF game with an injury. Brannon played the last three innings of the first game, started and had a great game in the nightcap.


Yesterday, Evan was the player of the game for us. In the third inning with Bethune-Cookman leading 2-1, Evan launched his first home run with the bases loaded to give us a lead we would not relinquish. He also added an RBI single in the fourth and scored on Rob Horst’s titanic shot into the woods in left.


“Knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” But when that door opens, make the most of it.


David Lipscomb Weekend…


We start our march through the South by hosting A-Sun foe David Lipscomb University. The Nashville-based school is a new conference member and the first of two Tennessee teams we face over the next two weeks. Then we go to South Carolina and play Winthrop, then to Alabama to face Troy State, followed by games against Georgia State and Mercer representing the Peach State. The A-Sun schedule maker has a very linear view of geography.


I don’t know much about Lipscomb. What I do know is that we have to play our best baseball and win every game possible. This weekend will shed some light on our chances to catch UCF and Stetson. Belmont visits UCF with a good, senior-laden club that is capable of causing trouble for the Knights. Stetson has to travel to Gardner-Webb, and we all know what can happen in Boiling Springs. If FAU can take care of business and get some help, who knows? That’s why we play the games.


Environment or Genetics…


I don’t mind bragging about my youngest kids Maggie and Luke because they are adopted. Anytime someone remarks how pretty Maggie is, or how blue Luke’s eyes are, I readily agree. They’re not my genes.


I drive 4-year-old Luke to his pre-school every morning. It’s right on campus, and I really enjoy that short private time with him. He is a big music fan and always has a request for the ride. Usually he wants to hear Springsteen’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” or Alan Jackson’s “Five O’Clock Somewhere,” which Luke calls “Tall and Strong.” Great Dad, the kid is singing a drinking song.


Anyway, Luke has great eye-hand coordination for a 4-year-old. He can throw a ball in the air and hit just like we do hitting fungoes. I had an assistant once who had trouble doing that.


This morning, a song by Kenny Rogers* came on the radio. It’s about a little boy with a ball and bat. As soon as it started, Luke said, “This is about me.” The little boy throws the ball up while singing “I am the greatest hitter of them all.” But after three missed tosses, the little boy’s Mom calls him home to dinner. As he heads home he sings that he “didn’t know I could pitch like that.” I hope Luke always has that kid’s optimism.




* Editor’s note - any mention of Kenny Rogers brings to mind the classic Web site Check it out. You won‘t be disappointed in this Web site celebrating the star of Six Pack.


Previous Entries

OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)

The Present and the Past (4/8/04)

Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)

Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)

Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)

A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)

Spring Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)

Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)

Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)

Winds of Change (3/1/04)

Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)

Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)

Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)

Opening Weekend (2/9/04)

Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)

FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)


(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)