TCU Daily Skiff Wednesday, February 11, 2004
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Head baseball coach has big plans for team
Schlossnagle hopes to bring Frogs championship
First-year head coach Jim Schlossnagle has great expectations for the Horned Frogs.

By Christine Wilson
Skiff Staff


Jim Schlossnagle’s head coach at Elon College offered him a proposition during his sophomore season.

The coach’s name was Rick Jones, and Schlossnagle credits him for his current profession.

At the time, Schlossnagle aspired to be a columnist for Sports Illustrated. He said he was a Rick Reilly hopeful and that he was covering any and every game he wasn’t involved in from the time he was in high school.

Then came his coach’s words of wisdom.

“He said, ‘At this pace, you aren’t going to be a pro player so you can do one of two things. You can continue doing what you are doing, or you can get a head start on the rest of the people your age from a coaching standpoint,’” Schlossnagle said.

Schlossnagle hasn’t looked back.

“If I hadn’t made a decision on that day or at that time, I wouldn’t have this job at 33 years old,” he said.

Well, he has the job. And, surprisingly, it only took a few coaching stops for him before he landed at TCU.

Schlossnagle began his coaching career at Clemson before moving on to Tulane, where he went to the 2001 College World Series, and then University Nevada-Las Vegas for the past two years.

As head coach at UNLV, he turned a program with five straight losing seasons into a team with a 47-17 record. He also led the Rebels to their first conference championship last season, finishing with a No.15 ranking.

Schlossnagle said he was intent on making a name for himself at UNLV, but he prefers to be at a private institution.

“Being at a private school, an academic school, and being able to recruit kids who are good players, good students, and come from good families is the ideal situation.”

His choice to come to TCU was both professional and personal.

“I have a 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old daughter,” he said. “I had never made any decisions professionally and put any of the personal side into it, but when you have children, sometimes you can’t just think about yourself.”

By accepting the Frogs’ head coaching position, he said his children can now grow up near his wife’s family in Dallas.

Schlossnagle said he didn’t fail to take the TCU baseball program’s potential into his decision to become the Frogs’ new head coach, however.

“When you add in the commitment to baseball that is here now with Eric Hyman and the new ballpark, it was too tough to walk away from this situation,” he said.

Even though Schlossnagle describes himself as a boring and loyal person who doesn’t hunt, fish or play golf, he has gained great respect from players and peers.

He attributes much of the respect he has garnered in his short coaching career to his great desire to build teams into contenders on the baseball diamond.

And the respect or notoriety isn’t because of his unusual name.

Ricky Fairchild, a pitcher for Tulane, said Schlossnagle has made his name a known product through nothing but great coaching.

“He is a highly regarded coach in the world of college baseball,” Fairchild said. “He has accomplished a lot in a short career.”

His personal commitment to the game is apparent in his work ethic. When fall baseball this season was restricted to three weeks and 18 practices due to NCAA restrictions, the new coach said all he wanted was time with the team everyday.

“We don’t have a lot of experience at all,” he said. “When you are in Conference USA and in Texas, you play a lot of good people. The schedule is challenging.”

The Frogs have their work cut out for them this season, he admits. Last year’s team had 16 seniors, and every position player was a senior, except for first baseman and designated hitter Chris Neuman.

Schlossnagle said the freshmen involvement this year is expected to go well, especially with the talent those players possess.

“So far (the freshmen) have been great at adjusting to change and they have bought into everything we have asked them to do,” he said. “There have been a lot of changes from the previous coaches and they have been very open to it.”

The team has noticed the difference in the coaching style since Schlossnagle’s arrival.

Junior pitcher Chris White said the practices are more structured and strenuous.

“He is a lot more structured and organized,” said White, a pitcher who has been on the team since 2000. “Everything is down to the minute and there is a purpose to everything we do.

“In my four years of baseball here, I’ve never run this much.”

Schlossnagle’s coaching career may have begun early, but his love for the game started even earlier.

Ever since his childhood, Schlossnagle has been an avid Boston Red Sox fan.

At his first major league game, between the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, he saw Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski play left field and he immediately drew a fond liking toward the player nicknamed “Yaz.”

“I was just a little guy and I figured that anyone with a worse last name than me had to be my favorite player,” he said.

Several years later, Schlossnagle now finds his home in the Frogs’ third base dugout, trying to make his lofty goal of returning to the College World Series in Omaha a reality.

And every morning he wakes up wondering what he can do to go back.

“I won’t go back unless I am coaching TCU,” he said. “My long-term goal for TCU is to win a national championship. I didn’t come here to get further away from Omaha, I came here to get closer.”

Schlossnagle says he fully expects the Frogs to be in the NCAA tournament at the end of the season.

“What you do beyond that is anybody’s guess,” he said. “That’s the game of baseball.”

Baseball photo
Ty Halasz/Staff Photographer
Head baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle hopes to lead TCU to the NCAA World Series.
 
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