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.
June 2, 2004
Land of Hope and Dreams
Grab your ticket and your
Thunder’s rolling down the
You don’t know where you’re
But you know you won’t be
Big wheels rolling through
Where sunlight streams
Meet me in a land of hope and
The field of 64 teams selected
to play in the 2004 NCAA baseball tournament was announced yesterday. There are
64 teams of young men and old coaches all getting on board this train that they
hope takes them to their land of hope and dreams…Omaha.
From the first time I heard this
Springsteen song, one of the images it created in my mind was the formulation of
a team of completely different types of young people, working together
throughout a season and making that final ride to its promised land. I also feel
the song stands as an accurate metaphor of our country, but I’ll save that for
We won’t have to take a train
unless we hop on the Tri Rail and cross over to the Metro Rail. Instead, we’ll
jump on Johhny’s bus and head down I-95 to Coral Gables and the regional hosted
by the University of Miami. The NCAA has again chosen to provide the baseball
players of Florida Atlantic the opportunity to play close to home. The families
of our local players are lucky to be able to see their sons in their own
backyard. The media market in which we fight for a slice of coverage will be
forced to turn some attention toward Florida Atlantic. Maggie and Luke are happy
because they will be able to go to Daddy’s games.
How do I feel?
Well, never one to be less than
frank, I was disappointed when I saw UCF announced in Tallahassee, because I
knew then that we must be going to Coral Gables. Now, I have nothing against
playing in a regional there, but we have been there three times already, and I
was looking forward to something different for our players and coaches.
Miami has an incredible winning
percentage as a host. People who frequent casinos know which games favor the
house and avoid playing them. But I don’t know if Harrah’s has as good a record
as the hosting Hurricanes.
Of course, if we don’t play well
in our first two games, we may never face UM.
N.C. State is our opponent on
Friday. They have two pitchers who have incredible numbers. Either Sterry or
Rogers will pitch and no one seems to have hit them very well this season.
Coach Elliot Avent is a great
guy who did a remarkable job last season, reaching the Super Regional against
Miami. He is a fun guy to be around, and I have been happy for his success. We
played back in 1997 when he was first hired by N.C. State. We are better than we
were then, but so are they.
St. Bonaventure is the fourth
team. They won the Atlantic 10 automatic bid. All I know is that it’s a Catholic
school and I think a Franciscan one. I like the Franciscans. St. Francis was a
wealthy young Italian who gave away all his money and fine clothes. He chose to
live in a sackcloth robe tied with a rope. It’s said that he spent his time
helping the poor and caring for animals. He sounds like a Democrat.
We are seeded third by the
national committee. That hurts. It doesn’t matter for seeding purposes, but in
essence they are saying that we are not to be considered one of the top 32 teams
in the country.
Let’s look at some of the
criteria that are used to evaluate teams.
Our won-loss record is 45–15.
There are only four teams in the nation with more wins against Division I
We finished the season very well
– usually an important point to the committee. We won 12 of our last 14 games,
including four straight in our conference tournament.
We finished second in our league
in the regular season and outscored our opponents 50 – 11 in winning the
Our pseudo RPI according to Boyd
Nation is 25.
I think the message being sent
is that a team from the Atlantic Sun has to perform at a far superior rate in
these categories than those teams from bigger conferences. Maybe they’re right,
but I don’t see the logic.
So what is our response? Well,
we can moan and groan, or go out and prove them wrong. At least we’re playing.
If you told me that I had a
choice to win one regional in the country, which one would it be? That’s easy.
Florida Atlantic will be playing David to UM and N.C. State’s
Goliath. All the small Rodney Dangerfield conference teams will be doing the
same. That’s the stuff of dreams. Get on board!
Glory Days (5/30/04)
Blue Wave Crashes on Two to Reach A-Sun Final (5/28/04)
Seniors Rule the Day (5/27/04)
A Lefty Lift (5/26/04)
Missing the Fons (5/26/04)
Who'll Stop the Rain? (5/23/04)
The 'Badlands' of Miami (5/19/04)
A Bad Part of a Good Job (5/14/04)
Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)
Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)
To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)
The Promised Land (4/21/04)
A Little Rusty (4/17/04)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)
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)
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)