February 4, 2014

CBI Feature on Mercer's Chesny Young

CBI Atlantic Sun Preview


Nine Innings with Tim Montez

By Sean Ryan

CollegeBaseballInsider.com Co-Founder

sean@collegebaseballinsider.com  @collbaseball


After serving as an assistant coach for 27 years, Tim Montez has finally reached the top as head coach at Jacksonville.


Montez was an assistant at Pepperdine (his alma mater), UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Northridge, Arkansas, Fresno State and Jacksonville.


Montez took time to answer our questions about his new position and about the Dolphins program.


First Inning - After more than two decades as a college assistant, how does it feel to finally to be a head coach for the first time?

It’s exciting. I look forward to the challenge. I’ve been blessed over my 23 years at the Division I level and 27 years overall to have been around some great programs and great coaches. The opportunity to have been around Coach Alexander the past eight years has been very beneficial to me. I’ve had opportunities over the years to be a head coach, but for whatever reason I wasn’t able to take those opportunities, but now I have been blessed to have this opportunity and I am excited and I’m ready to go. I know there will be challenges, but that all comes with the territory.


Second Inning - The man you replace, Terry Alexander, guided the Dolphins to more than 700 wins and 10 NCAA tourneys. What did you learn about being a head coach from him?

Probably the biggest thing I have learned about being a head coach from Coach Alexander was it is about relationships. He built relationships over 30-plus years here at JU and just the way you go about treating people on a daily basis. The other thing is, he gave me as his associate head coach a lot of responsibility and I thought he did a good job of delegating and having a vision for what he wants with his program. So the key components that I learned from him, was number one, relationships, and number two, having a vision for the program and letting your assistants teach and do their jobs, so they feel they like they have some ownership, instead of giving them a fungo, and having them throw BP every day.


Third Inning - While being redshirted at Pepperdine, you coached pitchers at a local high school. Describe that experience. Did you know right then that you wanted to coach?

Yeah, you know my high school coach, Mike Curran, from Esperanza High School in Yorba Linda, California, was a big influence on me. He is in the National High School Hall of Fame and he was the one that actually got me into coaching and he was a big influence. You know I redshirted that one year and I used to drive all the way from Pepperdine back home which was about an hour and 15 minutes away. I worked with the pitchers and coach Thursday through Saturday or Sunday, and get back in time Sunday night to go to class Monday through Thursday morning. He kind of got into my ear and I understood the impact he had on me and my fellow teammates as far as on the baseball field but also off the baseball field. So, that was my first introduction to coaching, I kind of knew that that was probably something I would look into when I finally hung up my cleats.


Fourth Inning - You broke into college coaching when Andy Lopez hired you at Pepperdine. And you later coached for Norm DeBriyn at Arkansas. What was it like coaching for those two coaches?

Well, Andy Lopez, I owe a lot to because he gave me my first opportunity to coach at a Division I level when he took over the Pepperdine program which is my alma mater. Probably the biggest thing I learned from him was if you were going to be a good coach you need to have a handle on the pitching. I think he is probably one of the better pitching coaches in the entire nation. The other thing that had a big impact on me was his conviction and his intensity. That competitiveness and competitive spirit that he brought every day to practice and the way he challenged his players. Those were some real quality traits that I picked up from Andy when I was with him my first couple years of coaching at the college level. Norm DeBriyn, another Hall-of-Fame coach, really has had a huge impact on my life not only on the baseball field but off the field. He really taught me about family, about relationships, about having a great faith in our Lord, and just the way that he treated people and the respect he got from his peers just a tremendous person and a lot of those things; his values and the way that he handled his players and the people around his program I have tried to instill here in the past six months since I’ve taken over here at JU.


Fifth Inning - Entering this World Series, a player you had coached had been on a World Series roster for seven years in a row. Anyone in this year’s World Series? Can you name the others and name the one or two players who had to work the hardest to get there.

I didn’t have anybody in this year, but some of the others were Russ Ortiz, Brad Fullmer, Eric Hinske, Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Barry Zito, Adam Kennedy, Doug Fister, those are some of the guys I have had the pleasure to recruit or coach that have been in the World Series over the years. I think the one that really has had to work the hardest to get there was probably, I would say, Russ Ortiz. Russ was a young man I coached in high school at Montclair Prep in Van Nuys, California and wasn’t really heavily recruited out of high school. We got him a scholarship to Oklahoma; he was under a great pitching coach and dear friend of mine, who is now passed away, Vern Ruhle. Russ had to grind and work his way up and just really do all the things that you need to do as far as competing at the Major League level and he made the most of all of his opportunities at each stop. He ended up having a pretty solid 12 year career in the major leagues, but you know, he was a grinder and just a good young man with tremendous faith and tremendous character. It was great to see him develop over the years and finally reach the World Series versus the Angels back in 2002. I know Brad Fullmer was on the Angels and they both were teammates at Montclair Prep, so that was a neat World Series when Russ was with the Giants playing against the Angels.


Sixth Inning - What are some of your immediate goals for the Dolphins?

Some of my immediate goals for the Dolphins would be just to get the players to trust each other and just to show up every day giving the absolute best effort they can on and off the field. I never talk about winning. I have taken a page out of John Wooden’s playbook as far as doing things the right way and doing your best every single day. I think if you can build that locker room culture where they can trust you as a head coach and trust your coaching staff, they are going to be a little more receptive and have that trust that it takes to be a close-knit team on and off the field. I want us to be competitive, I want people to come away and say, “Man that JU Dolphins; boy they play hard every out, they don’t take a pitch off and they handle themselves in a first-class manner.”


Seventh Inning - Where are areas of improvement for Jacksonville?

We definitely need to improve our depth. We took a hit in our recruiting the last two years because of the rumors of Coach Alexander retiring, which is a normal thing whenever that happens. But, we really have to get back on track recruiting-wise. Our new recruiting coordinator, Chuck Jeroloman, is heading that effort along with my lead assistant Chris Hayes and volunteer assistant Alex Swenson. We’ve got a good solid 2014 class coming in and we already have a jump on the 2015 class. But we need the depth in the infield positions and of course, the way college baseball is, we’ve got to have arms to work with. So those are probably the two biggest things as far as on the field and then were just going to try to improve our facilities that way we can keep up with the Jones’ and compete on the national level. We have new leadership at the top with new AD Brad Edwards and new President Tim Cost (who is a former JU player).  So I am excited for the future of JU academics and athletics.


Eighth Inning - What are three things you look for when recruiting pitchers?

Three things I look for recruiting pitches are they have to have arm action that as a coach you can work with and have the ability to repeat their delivery. The second thing I look for is their mound presence; how they go about competing from pitch to pitch. And then third, the ability to spin a breaking ball or have some type of deception and whether they have a fast ball that has any decent movement on it. The pitch that I have taught over the years at every program I have been at has been a two-seam fastball or a sinker, whatever you want to call it, but definitely those areas are what I try to dial into. Then once you get them on campus, you just try to refine them and give them a direction and path to follow and give them the best opportunity to sign a professional contract after their junior year. A good example of that was our ace last year, Chris Anderson, who was the Dodgers 18th pick of the first round.


Ninth Inning - What are the most common fixes young pitchers need to make/learn as they transition from high school to college pitchers?

The Number 1 thing that I have seen over the years is the ability to get to the next pitch, to stay in the moment, and then to be able to repeat their delivery and to have the ability to have a strong front side and have the ability to trust the process and work out front with all their pitches. You get a lot of young high school pitchers that come in right away that don’t trust the process and they want to see the result of the pitch before they finish executing it.  A lot of times that leads to a pitcher flying open and having a quick top half. Just to understand that it is a process and they need to trust their stuff and only worry about the result of the pitch after they’ve done everything they can after executing the pitch. But those are probably the top things they need to work on from the high school level to the college level.


(photos courtesy of JU Media Relations Office)