is in his 19th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University, where
he has compiled a record of 650-403-4. Overall, he has a record of 790-453-9 - a
.631 winning percentage - in 22 years. FAU has reached the NCAA regionals seven
times under Cooney, including each of the past four seasons. This is the third year
Cooney has offered his
thoughts on baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
Sept. 1, 2005
Déjà vu all over again
Last August, I wrote an entry entitled, “Welcome Back- Now Evacuate!”
Some things never seem to change.
On Thursday, we were all sent home early because of the impending landfall of
Hurricane Katrina, then a “minimal Category I Hurricane.” I had spent the
morning putting up my shutters despite the pouring rain. I prefer to handle
those shutters when the winds aren’t blowing.
My neighbors kept stopping by and saying, “You putting up your shutters?” As
Jeff Foxworthy would say, “Here’s your sign!”
I figured that there was no sense taking a chance that a tree limb or coconut
would blow off and break a window, bringing the storm rains into our home. It
only takes about an hour, depending on how many screws are rusted or stripped.
That afternoon, the FAU campus quickly became a ghost town, as the 1 p.m.
closing time hit. I decided to get in a workout in the cardio room before
heading home to try and start my generator in anticipation of losing power. I
would need a strong heart to survive a shuttered lockdown with Maggie and Luke.
As luck would have it, Katrina, like Andrew 13 years before her, made a
last-minute wobble and landed in south Broward County, and then proceeded down
towards Homestead. I hope those people took the threat seriously and ignored the
projection of a more northern landfall.
There is a definite feeling of guilt to sit there and hope a storm turns from
your area, knowing someone else will bear the brunt of the damage. Seven people
lost their lives in South Florida. Trees fell on people, and others drowned. No
matter how impressive it is to step out and view one of these storms, the lesson
learned is to stay inside.
Part of Boca Raton lost power until Saturday. Actually the section where
assistant coach John McCormack, and his wife live with their children, Conor and
Shane, were among those in the dark and un-air conditioned. I would be remiss if
I didn’t mention that Mac’s wife is named Katrina.
The storm is now a Category 4 and pounding New Orleans and the
Mississippi-Alabama coastlines. That “minimal storm” grew up in a hurry.
We had started school last week, and began our “4-man” workouts. Thursday and
Friday were lost to the storm, but we all were very lucky and are praying for
those less fortunate.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
The Clash is one of the few bands that Coach McCormack knows. Its classic
song speaks to a current problem in college baseball. Back in the spring, I
wrote about the subject of transfers, and some of the reasons kids feel
compelled to leave one school for another.
This off-season saw Florida Atlantic get hit hard by the transfer culture
that currently exists. We lost four players and will be viewed in a negative
light by the NCAA. That bastion of academic and moral integrity has created a
formula called the APR, which is purported to measure the academic performance
and retention capability of an institution.
There is a formula derived from points earned and lost over the course of a
Its math geeks have established a number that will be acceptable, and
anything below can result in the loss of scholarships or post season
competition. Each sport will be measured against its peer programs to establish
Now, I’m all for academics, and I understand the value of an education. But
the guys who thought up this one are a few sandwiches short of a picnic.
Why do kids “stay or go?”
The answers vary.
But in college baseball, part of the reason is because they can.
If the transfer rules for baseball were the same as football and basketball,
there would be significantly fewer kids seeking greener pastures. Those two
sports require anyone leaving one school for another to “spend a year in
residence at the new institution.”
However, in baseball, a student athlete may be released from the residency
requirement and immediately compete at the new school.
This has created a free agent market wherein coaches now participate in a
whole new recruiting season. Summer baseball has become feeding time at the zoo.
Suddenly, recruiting coordinators seem to be enjoying summers on Cape Cod and in
the Shenandoah Valley, to name a couple of vacation hot spots.
Kids know that the market exists, and feel they are entitled to a release
They just want to move on and feel that anyone who would deny them is being
My philosophy is to get to the root of the reason the player is leaving. Are
they too far from home, culturally or demographically out of place? Do they miss
There is always a reason.
Most often the reason comes down to playing time.
All four of our former players had various contributing factors in making
their decisions to leave, but PT was high on the list. Any coach understands
that kids want to play. He also understands that it is difficult to keep
everyone happy, particularly in a solid college program where everyone was a
great player in high school.
Sometimes people need to learn that things don’t always come immediately. A
talented freshman sometimes has to bide his time while a coach shows loyalty to
an upperclassman. If the young player hangs in there, one day he may be the
beneficiary of the coach’s loyalty.
But this is a generation bred on instant gratification.
It’s easier to move on when things don’t happen as rapidly as you planned.
Those are the transfers who bother me. Do kids think that programs are
successful by only playing nine guys? Is there some sort of development that
goes on in the career of a player, or are they all instant stars?
Every baseball player wants the chance to play. Sometimes it just takes time.
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)