Oct. 16, 2008


Nine Innings with Jake Boss, Jr.

By Phil Stanton

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder


There is a new Boss in East Lansing.


Former Eastern Michigan head coach Jake Boss, Jr., has taken over the program at Michigan State. In his first season with the Eagles this past spring, Boss led EMU to the MAC Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles started 0-17 before winning 25 of 40 entering regional play. Boss was 2008 MAC Coach of the Year.


A native of Lansing, Mich., Boss was an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Michigan for three years after serving as an assistant at EMU for seven seasons.


Boss played from 1989-93 at Alma College and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1993. He received a Master’s Degree in Physical Education from Eastern Michigan in 2000.


First Inning – You grew up in Lansing. What does it mean to you to be the head coach at Michigan State?

It is a dream come true for me to be the head coach at Michigan State.  My family was always Spartan fans growing up and it's a thrill for me to come home to East Lansing and be a part of the athletic department at MSU.  There are great people here, starting at the top with Athletics Director Mark Hollis, and I am truly honored and humbled to be here.


Second Inning – When did you decide you wanted to pursue coaching as a profession?

Sometime in college I decided I wanted to coach and teach at the high school level.  I didn't enjoy being in the classroom as much as I thought I would, so I decided to try to make coaching college baseball a full-time profession while I was still young enough to be able to afford to do so.


Third Inning – You played at Division III Alma College. What drove you to coach at the Division I level?

I always wanted to play at the highest level, but was not blessed with the type of physical ability to do so.  I enjoyed my career at Alma College, and when I got into coaching full time, my goal was to lead a team at the highest level I could attain. I've been very blessed to have been given opportunities to prove myself at the Division I level and have been fortunate to have coached some outstanding players with a great deal of talent.


Fourth Inning – What do you say to your team when it starts 0-17? How did you keep Eastern Michigan together and win the MAC to earn an NCAA Regional bid? How rewarding was that Regional berth?

Those young men at Eastern Michigan are winners, and they proved that at the end of last season.  We had a horrific start to the season, one I wouldn't wish on anyone...we had played poorly and lost, and we had played well and lost.  But those kids are resilient and they stayed together and kept believing that we could do great things if we just kept working hard and focused on us and what we could do to improve.  As a coach, there is no better feeling than watching your players storm out of the dugout after the last out of the championship game and jump on each other in celebration of winning a title.  Words really can't express how rewarding that Regional berth was...it's something that we all are very proud of and something that I will never forget.


Fifth Inning – How important are the additions of a new indoor facility and a new stadium for MSU baseball?

The new indoor facility at Michigan State is a tremendous asset for our ball club from a skill development standpoint and a recruiting standpoint.  It is an outstanding facility and really shows the commitment that Mark Hollis and his entire staff have made to our program and the entire athletics department at MSU.  The new stadium will provide one of the best atmospheres I've ever been around in college baseball.   The generosity of Drayton McLane is overwhelming and we are extremely excited to open the new stadium next spring.  It's good for Michigan State, it's good for the Big Ten, and it's good for baseball in the north.


Sixth Inning – You have been coaching in the state of Michigan since 1997. How important is it for MSU recruiting to have strong contacts within the state?

The state of Michigan is my home and I'm familiar with the tremendous talent this state has produced throughout the years.  It will be a priority for us to begin in Michigan and work out from there.  The high school coaches in this state do an outstanding job of preparing their kids for the next level and it's our task to keep them close to home.


Seventh Inning – What did you learn about Big Ten baseball in three seasons as an assistant coach at Michigan?

The Big Ten is an outstanding conference that doesn't always get it's just due on a national level.  There are several outstanding teams in this league that can compete with anybody in the nation while producing a large amount of high draft picks on a yearly basis.  It's a deep and talented league that is worthy of multiple NCAA regional bids.  I truly believe the Big Ten embodies what the student-athlete experience ought to be and I'm fortunate to be a part of that.


Eighth Inning – What do you think about the Big Ten changing conference series from four games to three?

I'm in favor of going to a three-game series and eliminating the doubleheader on the weekend.  We went through a similar change when I was an assistant in the MAC and it proved to be a positive change, especially from a pitching standpoint.  It will help from a depth perspective in mid-week games that are so important when it comes to RPI and NCAA at-large berths at the end of the year.


Ninth Inning – What are your thoughts on the Big East/Big Ten Challenge?

I think the Big East/Big Ten Challenge is a great idea and will be a positive for each school involved from both leagues.  The Big East is a very talented conference and we're looking forward to competing against them to open the 2009 season.  Hopefully we can generate fan support in the Tampa/Clearwater/St. Petersburg communities and draw well to add to the experience of playing against quality teams in very good facilities.


Tenth Inning – Many teams are playing exhibition games this fall against outside competition. Is that something you will look to do with the Spartans?

It is something that we would look into for the future if we can determine it is in the best interest of our student athletes.  I think we could do some very creative things and tie a fall game into a home football weekend that would provide a special atmosphere on campus for everyone involved.  I would prefer, however, to remain at 56 regular season games in the spring and if playing a fall exhibition game jeopardizes that, then we may think twice about it.  The other issue with a fall game is the impact on eligibility for our first-year players.  If playing in a game in the fall will continue to count as a full season of eligibility for our student athletes, then we would have to take a hard look at how we approach competing in the fall and who we would want to play in the fall game.


(photos courtesy of Michigan State Media Relations Office)