Johnson Introduced as New Sooner Skipper

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Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
JUNE 20, 2017

Skip Johnson was formally introduced as the new head coach of the University Oklahoma baseball program on Tuesday at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.

Johnson was officially hired on Monday as the 10th head coach in Sooner baseball history. He spent the 2017 season as the OU pitching coach after a 10-year stint on Augie Garrido's staff at Texas. Johnson was previously a head coach at Navarro (Texas) Junior College from 1994-06. He won 450 games in his 13 seasons and nine conference championships.

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Quotes from the Press Conference

JOE CASTIGLIONE

Opening Statement:

“Thank you very much, Toby. We appreciate everything that you do serving as our voice of so many things of Oklahoma Athletics. We really appreciate you. As Toby said, it truly is a big day for Oklahoma baseball as we start a new era under Skip Johnson. As I look around the room, I see former players, former coaches, current players, current coaches on our staff and other staff members. It just shows you how important uniting our family really is. I appreciate you all being here. That show of support is truly vital for our program. In fact, it's important for us to build upon it, to cultivate it, as we develop the kinds of resources that our program is going to need as we go forward to pursue championships.

“As we all know, there's a journey, a process, to developing the skills of individual players and building chemistry of a team. Teams generally take on the personality of their leaders. When we vetted a variety of excellent candidates for this job, we learned a lot of good things about each one of them. I'd like to thank Greg Tipton, some of our head coaches, our staff, that all served in helping throughout the search process. I really appreciate your input.

“We wanted someone who had been part of winning championships, who had been to Omaha. We found it in Arthur Johnson. His passion, his purpose, his vision, his plan, continually impressed us. OK, I see a few of you are like ‘I think he just said the wrong name, Arthur.' There are a lot of people in here who didn't know his real name was Arthur, did you? You're wondering, ‘How do you get Skip out of Arthur?' Well, not to digress, but as the story goes, they had a neighbor that was named Skip. And when his mother was pregnant with Arthur, Skip's older brother would pat his mother's belly and would say, ‘There's my Skipper. There's my Skipper.' So while he was born Arthur, from that moment, he was always known as Skip.

“Regardless of how he got his nickname, we studied and learned a lot about his relationship-building skills, eye for talent, his player development and knowledge of the game. All those that he would encounter came away loving him and being inspired by his own spirit. They trusted him, they listened to him, they considered him a brother, a teacher, a mentor, obviously a coach. He embodies the kinds of characteristics that we totally believe are the strength of our Sooner Magic culture and what we believe is important to the formula for our ultimate success. Now, don't let his down-to-earth demeanor trick you into thinking that he isn't a competitor. He might try to trick you into thinking that, but he is a fierce competitor. You're not going to out-hunt him, you're not going to out-fish him, and believe me, don't try to go bowling with him. Whether it's rolling strikes or throwing strikes, Skip is a fierce competitor and he conveys that to all those around him.

“So when we put all these pieces together, and all the other characteristics that we believed were important in hiring the next coach, we realized that we actually had the best person right here as it would be…in the bullpen. So I guess it's only proper that I turn to Skip and I give you the signs and ask you that you now come out, sprint to the mound, and take over the baseball as our new head coach. So won't you join me in welcoming the new skipper, Skip Johnson.

“Before we get going into some of Skip's remarks, I'd like to ask Cathy, Tyler and Garrett to join me at the podium. I'd like a picture because as you know, family is the root of everything we do here.”

SKIP JOHNSON

Opening Statement:

“Following those two guys is probably going to be pretty tough. They can really talk, and it's pretty awesome.

“I want to thank the OU Board of Regents, President Boren, Athletics Director Joe Castiglione, Senior Associate Athletics Director Greg Tipton, for having the conviction and the faith in me to carry this program on to, I don't know about bigger and better things, but to carry this program on and make sure that we develop players and lead these young men and student-athletes to bigger and better things.

“First off, I want to thank my family for all the things they've done. It's been a long time coming. Twenty-seven years of college baseball, and my wife, Cathy, Tyler and Garrett, it's been a lot of long nights probably waiting on me to come in from the road, putting 370,000 miles on my truck, or being gone for 27 days in a row recruiting and just trying to make ends meet when I was at a junior college and of course again at Texas. I want to thank you guys for being there for me.

“The next thing I kind of want to start is I want to thank Ryan Gaines, Mike Anderson, Dillon Stanley, Berto (Roberto Gallegos) and Robert Fulton for being here for me and to talk about the family over at the baseball field and what we've done. To our players, relationships are everything with me. You can go win national championships, but it's the relationships that matter to me. It's getting the phone call at 2 o'clock in the morning, or a guy struggling in professional baseball, or he comes in your office and talks to you, that's what matters. We can win championships, there's no doubt I want to win championships as bad as anybody, but the relationships mean everything to me, always have and always will. That's the only reason I'm here, the relationships I've built before.

“A player development program means a lot to me as well. I think the biggest thing for us on an everyday basis if we're going to engage with our eyes and our heart as coaches, and we're going to encourage young men positively and give them every opportunity to get better and making sure that the team comes first in every form and fashion. Love and caring players are very important to me because without these guys, there's no us. That's the only reason I'm up here. I got a lot of texts last night from former players, and I've just texted back and said ‘You guys made it happen as well as I did.' If you leave your mark on a kid's heart, you carve your name on a kid's heart, you can carve it on marble. A lot of former coaches that are here, I appreciate it. They understand what I'm talking about. And former players because the ultimate goal is to carve your name on their heart, and then marble because it's important to me that you guys are here as well to understand that I'm going to try and carry on the tradition that you left, the mark that you left.

“To all my mentors, to kind of tell a story, my high school coach, Coach Blair, he made me love the game every day. I was at Denton High School, me and Tim Tadlock, he's at Texas Tech, he was a sophomore and I was a senior. He made us love the game every day to come out and practice and get better. Then I got the opportunity to sign a scholarship with Ranger Junior College for $250, wasn't a lot of money. I knew that it was a place where I didn't have an air conditioner in my dorm room, or a heater, and there were crickets everywhere, and I learned a lot about what mental toughness was about. It was important to me at that time. Then I got the opportunity to go play for some of the greatest men I've met, Al Ogletree and Reggie Treadaway. These are mentors of mine, they're very important to me, because they taught me how to teach the game and direct each other one step at a time because teaching the game is fun. You see these guys that are out here that teach the game, but it's more about learning one step at a time because that's what learning is. These guys taught me the patience of it, in it. Then getting the opportunity from Bob McElroy and Keith Thomas. Keith Thomas is a former OU alum that played football here and coached here. These guys gave the opportunity at Navarro to coach where I got to the learn the failures and the successes of the game by getting to practice seven, eight, nine hours a day. I know there weren't any compliance rules if there are any compliance people out there, at junior college. It was about making them better. I learned a lot at Navarro of what to do and what not to do. Then I got the opportunity to coach for a great man named Augie Garrido, and I learned a lot from him and Tommy Harmon along the way. The pressures of the game was really what I learned there. I really thought I knew what I was doing when I went there, and come to find out, I didn't know. So I had to really make sure that I practice those pressures that those kids are going to go through. If you're going to ask those guys to do something, we need to go through that pressure. I really learned a lot there.

“To all the alumni, my door's always open. I want you to come. I want to visit with you. Come to the bullpen, come around. These guys want to know what you went through when you were here. It's important to our players to understand that you left a mark here and we're going to carry on the tradition and we're going to carry the torch. To the guys that sit out on the berm, it's very important that you guys are there for us as well. The red couch guy that sits out there that we have fun with, have to send the policeman out there every day, we love you guys. And for the Yard Birds that sit up in the stands and yell and scream at us about throwing strikes, just make sure you understand they're amateurs, too. They're not professionals and we're going to do everything we can. And we don't have a joystick in the dugout to make them swing and miss it or make them hit the ball with some kind of shock collar on their neck.

“Our product on the field is going to be tough. Guys are going to get after it. We're going to play hard every day, and that's the expectation, that's accountability. I learned about OU from Tim Tadlock and the OU brand a long time ago when he was here and I was at a junior college. He told me that his place had high expectations and what it was about, the atmosphere as a family-owned business. I was here for a year. I believe it. I know how important Oklahoma athletics and Oklahoma baseball is to the state of Oklahoma. I've built a lot of relationships here the year that I was here and continue to want to build those relationships as we go on in the near future. I really appreciate it and am honored to carry the torch for the University of Oklahoma as the head baseball coach.”

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