Gary Gilmore and Jay Johnson are separated by 18 years of age. Conway, South Carolina and Tucson, Arizona are more than 2,000 miles apart. Coastal Carolina plays in the Big South; Arizona battles Pac-12 powerhouses every year. And perhaps the most glaring difference between these two coaches: Gilmore has been at the helm for the Chanticleers since 1996, while Johnson took the Wildcats gig a little more than a year ago.
So, yeah. In many respects, the contrasts between the two are stark. But their Omaha objective?
It’s precisely the same.
On Sunday morning, Gilmore and Johnson addressed the media before the championship series begins. As many can attest to, coach news conferences can often be a bit… bland. A lot of clichés, a lot of coach speak – that sort of thing.But Gilmore and Johnson were excellent. Together, they fielded media questions for about 40 minutes, and the time flew by. They were candid, they were transparent, they were enlightening -- and often times, they were downright humorous.
Here are some of their best quotes from the day:
Gilmore, reflecting on when he took the Coastal job in 1996: “The batting cage was unusable at the time. And just some of things that I laugh about with my coaches and my wife and things that I've actually laughed about since I've been out here because several of those players have actually shown up here. And it was just kind of a different mindset.
“Just to kind of give you an idea, heck, when I had the first -- we had our first weekend practice, at our first team meeting, I said I'll see you guys at 9:00 on Saturday morning. I had two kids sitting there at the end of the meeting, and they came up to me: ‘Coach, I can't be at practice.’ I go, ‘Huh? What do you mean you can't be at practice?’ ‘Well, I'm a bartender down here at the beach and by the time I get off, I won't be able to make it to practice at 9:00.’ ‘I said, Well, you have to make a choice, young man. We're going to play baseball here.”
Johnson, on if he believed this team had an Omaha run in it: “Depends when you ask me, but for the majority of the time I would have said no.”
Gilmore, to his team after losing a series at Georgia Tech: “We've got 17 games left, and I don't think we can mess up one time if you want to host.
“And they won 16 of them.”
Johnson, on Arizona’s pitching strategy for the series: “I don't know how many times two teams have come out of the loser's bracket to make it to the finals, and I hope Coach Gilmore is as confused as I am right now.”
Johnson, on whether or not Wildcat ace Nathan Bannister is done for the playoffs: “I've not ruled him out, no.”
Gilmore, on trying to instill an old-school mentality in his team: “My assistant, Matt Schilling, for the whole year, every single time when we go on the road, on the bus, he plops in "Bull Durham."
“So every great baseball cliche, every great one-liner you can think of is in that movie. If it's a six-hour trip, as soon as it plays one time, he plops it back in and it plays again. If we've watched it once, we've watched it 25 times. And it's incredible. Every time we watch it, we win.”
Johnson, on heeding advice from another high-profile Arizona coach: "The best advice that I got was from Sean Miller, our basketball coach. And he said, ‘You need to look at this like you've accomplished a lot already. And it's a great accomplishment in being here, and don't let anybody tell you anything different.’”
Gilmore, on his original attitude towards having a toy shark in the dugout: “Does it bite?”
Johnson, on whether or not he watches the standings: “I have a problem -- I guess you would call it an addiction -- I look at WarrenNolan.com like 17 times a day. And that is basically where I get my NCAA RPI information.”
Johnson, on his players saying the team’s shenanigans come from him: “That is definitely not the case.”
You know these two are chomping at the bit to get things going on Monday night.