Tadlock Builds Coaching Staff|
March 12, 2013
by: Taylor Fortney
For the fifth straight time, the Texas Tech defense lined up to run the same bunt drill, despite executing the previous four times. Once more, the batter laid the bunt down, but this time, the runner beat the throw to the bag.
"Let's do it again!" Coach Tim Tadlock said.
This repetition and attention to detail perhaps displays first-year head coach Tim Tadlock best.
The first-year head coach brought the same ideology and attention to detail to selecting his coaching staff.
"Simplest thing is," Tadlock said. "We wanted these guys."
The staff Tadlock sought after includes pitching coach Ray Hayward, recruiting coordinator J-Bob Thomas, assistant coach [infield/outfield] Russell Raley and director of baseball operations Joe Hughes.
Ray Hayward left behind the life of a major league scout to come to Lubbock, and relishes the opportunity to get back to coaching.
"Well that's what my true love is," Hayward said of his opportunity to return to coaching. "Being on the field, working with the kids, being around kids, being around parents. I love the feelings of helping ballplayers and making them better."
Hayward looks to use his past experience as a scout to help evaluate his own pitchers at Tech, while also admitting that it will be a change evaluating a player in college versus the long-term prospects of scouting for an MLB organization.
"Well it's going to help tremendously," Hayward said. "Although, I think from a scouting standpoint, we look for so many things, like red flags, mainly for longevity. We have a guy for four years, so hopefully with Shawn (Lindsey), our trainer, we can fix some mechanical things, if needed. Sometimes it's good scouting wise, sometimes you see things and you don't want them or you can say that guy is going to be pretty good, and that helps in that respect.
Along with using his experiences as a scout, Hayward also notes that he can help the younger coaches on the staff with his deep experience from the dugout.
"The experience comes from coaching and being around people in baseball and life," Hayward said. "So I think experience wise, me just being able to have been through it and realize that guys are not going to be perfect. They're not going to have perfect games or perfect innings. I think that's the main thing."
When asked about the value of Hayward to the staff, Tadlock echoed Hayward's thought on experience.
"Coach Hayward brings a ton of experience," said Tadlock. "Big league playing experience, coaching at the division one level, and a pro perspective. But the biggest thing he brings is that he is a teacher and he loves being on the field and it's what his passion is and you're not going to find a better man in baseball."
While others on the staff might not have Hayward's deep and varied experience, each has qualities and tools they have used to get to the top of their profession. This is especially true for recruiting coordinator J-Bob Thomas.
Thomas comes from Howard Junior College after a successful seven-year run building the program to its current strength. One of the main reasons for Howard's success comes from the recruiting of Thomas, a strength he looks to replicate at Tech.
"I've got a passion for recruiting." Thomas said. "I love getting good players and establishing relationships. I love knowing that you're bringing them into a really good place."
Thomas will lead Tech's recruiting efforts as the recruiting coordinator for the Red Raiders, and remarked on the advantages of recruiting at the division one level, as compared to the junior-college level where the turnover is much greater and having to fill an entire new team every year is the norm.
"It's definitely refreshing," Thomas said, "To not have to go out there and fill a whole new team every year. Here, there is a three or four-year process, so the player development side is really exciting because you get to see each player grow."
Thomas is seeing his recruiting efforts already for Tech this year, as his first recruiting class is taking the field for the Red Raiders this spring.
"I really like them." Thomas said of the current players he helped bring to campus for this year. "There's a lot of blue-collar work ethic, everyone is ready to get after it and work. It's definitely the foundation not just for what we're going to do this year, but in years to come."
Tadlock has witnessed Thomas' recruiting abilities for the past seven years while they became familiar with each other on the recruiting trail.
"He's a tireless recruiter," Tadlock said of Thomas, the first individual he added to his coaching staff. "He loves to recruit, always has. He's a guy I felt like when the time came, he was deserving of the position. I think he is going to be a great recruiting coordinator."
While Thomas takes care of recruiting, volunteer assistant coach Russell Raley will play a large role with the Red Raiders while working with the team's hitters and position players. Raley is a veteran in the Big 12 having been one of the top players in the league for four years at Oklahoma and also serving as an assistant coach at his alma mater for three years.
"It was very important," Raley said of his role with the team. "One of the deciding factors in coming here was that I was going to get a large responsibility regarding the daily work with hitters and infielders and outfielders and that meant a lot to me, that Coach Tadlock was going to give me that position and the value that my word was going to mean something in the locker room with the players each day."
After coaching at Oklahoma from 2008-2011, Raley came to Tech after a brief stint at Oklahoma Christian, and is looking forward to getting back into the bigger stage of Big 12 baseball.
"The opportunity to work in the Big 12 again was an opportunity I couldn't pass up," Raley said. "So I wanted to get back into this conference and work with Coach Tadlock again, and the rest of the staff that was already in place."
Tadlock looks for Raley to better the Red Raider hitters, and to bring the same tools that he used to make Oklahoma a high-power offense.
"He understands what it takes to be successful as a hitter." Tadlock said. "He brings Big 12 experience, pro experience, and the main thing is he has been successful in the Big 12. I have a lot of comfort knowing we got a college guy teaching college guys how to hit."
While Hayward, Thomas, and Raley take care of the coaching and recruiting, Joe Hughes is the man behind the scenes, making sure everything runs smoothly as the Director of Baseball Operations.
After working his way up the chain of administration to event management at Oklahoma, Hughes headed to Tech in the operations role due to his relationship with his former coach, Tim Tadlock, who he played for in junior college at Grayson County and also during his division I career at Oklahoma.
"I have the ultimate respect of Coach Tadlock as a person, as well as who he is as a coach." Hughes said. "We had built a relationship over the years, that as soon as I got the phone call, it was a no-brainer."
Hughes also remarked on how dynamic his job is, and even though he isn't working specifically with the players during practice, he is able to have a great impact on the Texas Tech baseball team.
"It's the type of job where you have to be on your toes." Hughes said. "Whether that's travel, lining up food, or making sure our players are taken care of. Just making sure our program is in shape to be the best it can possibly be."
Always looking out for the Tech players, Hughes is someone Tadlock wants on his team. "From an operations standpoint, he's a tireless worker." Tadlock said. "He knows how we want to do things, whether it's eating or practicing, he understands which makes things much easier for all of us. He's a person I trust in any situation."
Each member of Tadlock's staff has a clear role, and all have the common goal of getting the program better and competing in the Big 12 conference. Tadlock points out, however, that the players make the program.
"My initial thought process once becoming head coach was to get players," Tadlock said. "At that point, I knew it would come together, but it was a lot more important to me to secure baseball players."
Tadlock had little trouble convincing his coaches to join the staff in Lubbock. "There is something to be said that all of these guys joined the program when we asked them." Tadlock said. "That's pretty neat."
Texas Tech looks to capitalize on each coach's strengths, and build the foundation for Tech to be a winning program for years to come.
"It's really meshed together." Hayward said. "We have good personalities here that's worked together well and I've really enjoyed it, and I think there's nothing but good things ahead."