June 27, 2013
Vice President and Director of Athletics
“Good afternoon, everyone. We appreciate you making your way here on relatively short notice. We hope you understand how processes like this tend to move. I’m really excited to be at this point to introduce our new head baseball coach to you in just a moment. Speaking of the process, as usual it is very thorough, very comprehensive. You know with the University of Oklahoma there’s always going to be a great deal of interest in positions, but this one was especially impressive. A number of people throughout baseball -- collegiate baseball especially -- expressed interest in this position and saw what we have achieved here, the great tradition as well as the potential ahead. All wanted to take a shot at it. As usual, we vetted a lot of candidates, coaches that are currently leading programs as well as coaches that are top assistants. So when we get to this point we feel like we’ve understood the best and the brightest out there and are able to make the best selection to lead the University of Oklahoma’s baseball program.
“Pete Hughes is going to be our new head baseball coach. Pete captured our attention for a variety of reasons. He has an extensive track record of building programs, especially programs that faced somewhat of an uphill battle given the stage they were when he became head coach. But they didn’t stay there. They got better and better and better. They became competitive in the conference in which they competed. He’s no stranger to facing the best competition in collegiate baseball. He’s coming to us from easily one of the premiere baseball conferences in America -- the ACC. He did achieve a lot of success making the most out of the resources that he had. And you know, when you look around at the University of Oklahoma, it’s easy to say that we have a lot of great resources at our fingertips that maybe don’t exist at some other programs. But it wasn’t always that way and it won’t stay this way. We’re always trying to find a way to get better, trying to improve the resources we provide to our student-athletes, and in this case our team and the sport of baseball, and that’s what we’re doing for all of our sports teams. So making the most of what you have and taking it as far as you can go is a hidden characteristic perhaps in all of us who are a part of the University of Oklahoma. We appreciate what we have and we’re always trying to find a way to get better.
“His work ethic is unquestionable. Many of the people we talked to throughout baseball always listed that among his greatest characteristics. Also included in the way people described Pete Hughes was a tireless recruiter, a great motivator, a charismatic leader, a superb teacher of the game of baseball and one that invests himself in the lives of his family. First, his own family which I’ll introduce to you here in a minute, as well as his extended family -- those players that he coaches. And that’s what it takes to be successful in today’s world of college athletics. And amongst other characteristics, that’s what drew us to Pete Hughes -- his record, his ability, his vision, his goals in what he wants to accomplish in leading programs.
“He almost has a baseball team that he is bringing with him. He’s leaving a bunch of players I know he loves, but there’s a team that’s coming with him. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome the Hughes family to the University of Oklahoma family. I’d like to first thank Pete’s wife, Debby, for embracing this opportunity. Usually you start with the oldest and go to the youngest but P.J., I’m not doing that with you today, man. You’re going to be first. P.J. , Grace, Dom, Hal and Thomas. We’re excited to have you as Sooners. You really, really look good in that Crimson and Cream. So without further ado, I’d like to ask our new baseball coach, our new leader, and the person that’s going to be a great mentor to our student-athletes to come to the podium and make a quick presentation. We present him with his first OU baseball cap. I know he’ll have quite an array as we have several different color combinations in today’s world of baseball uniforms, and something special that we had made for this occasion. Coach, I know you like to hit those fungoes, but I’m not sure you’re going to use this as a fungo bat. But on behalf of the University of Oklahoma, I’m going to present you the first OU bat you’re going to have in your hand. It’s inscribed “University of Oklahoma Head Baseball Coach Pete Hughes, June 27, 2013.”
“I know what some of you are thinking right now, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them.’ They hired a smart guy, I’ll tell you that. If some of you have a problem understanding Yankee [the Northeast accent] just go ahead and raise your hand and I’ll slow things down and repeat.
“I want to thank President Boren. I want to thank Joe Castiglione, who ran one of the most thorough, detailed and first-class job searches I’ve ever been a part of. I want to thank my former players and former assistant coaches that have put me in this position today. I’d like to introduce my associate head coach, well actually the head coach of my family. This is job move No. 4 for a mother of five, so she’s sacrificed a lot and done that her whole life to put our family in this position.
“I’m excited to be a part of such a phenomenal college community. There’s nothing like coaching a baseball team with a rabid following that is emotionally invested in the same thing you are. I’m excited to be a part of one of the most successful athletic departments in the country. I’m privileged to be the head coach of one of the most storied traditions in college baseball, specifically this year’s team. I know what I’m inheriting; I saw it with my own eyes. I’m appreciative of inheriting a Super Regional team. I realize you don’t walk into those situations very often.
“I look forward to immersing our team and my family and our values in the surrounding community. I’m anxiously anticipating meeting our alums and bringing them together because those are the guys, the Sooner family, that have built this storied tradition. I want them around us. To me, winning is so much more rewarding when you can share it with a lot of people and share all your efforts with a lot of people. We plan on sharing our success every step of the way with the surrounding community, our supporters, our alums and we plan on doing it on one of baseball’s highest levels.
“I left a very special situation. I left it for two reasons. I don’t think our family is going to miss a beat as far as growing up the right way because you can’t not flourish in a college community as rabid and tight-knit as this one. And No. 2, I came here to win championships and go to Omaha on a regular basis and bring a national championship to Oklahoma Baseball. Lastly, I want to thank you, Norman. I want to thank the University of Oklahoma for this amazing opportunity that you’ve given my family. Thank you.”
On if he contacted OU or if OU contacted him:
“I was contacted. I’m leaving a tremendous situation, so that should tell you what I think of this job and this athletic department. I was fortunate enough and grateful enough to have been contacted.”
On when he was contacted:
“I think I was contacted about two weeks ago.”
On if a softball coach ever participated in the search process for a job he pursued and how OU softball Patty Gasso was part of this search process:
“No. But you’re talking about a different softball coach. She’s won two national championships. She’s the most successful softball coach in the country. So when Joe [Castiglione] texted me asking me if I had time to talk to Patty if she calls you, of course I do. Not to mention I could use her as a resource on how to win and win at a high level consistently, but selling the Oklahoma product. I was privileged, really, and it was very insightful. Five minutes into the conversation I was well aware how she won a national championship and is one of the most distinguished coaches in our profession.”
On OU’s facilities:
“They are facilities that demand being one of the top athletic departments in the country. If I’m a recruit coming here, I want to see if that athletic department wants to invest in the same things I want and I love. Hey, I want to go to Omaha and I want to go to a place where the athletic department is investing in the same goals that I have. That was my first impression of them.”
On what’s missing about the facilities:
“I think there’s an important place for facilities. When you talk about Oklahoma, they’ve just gone to three out of four Super Regionals. When you go to the Super Regionals, it’s about who’s hot, who’s lucky, who stays healthy. It has nothing to do with facilities. If your infrastructure is already there enough to get you into an opportunity to be a Super Regional team, then I think there’s enough. But, it’s a competitive business, we’re competitive by nature as coaches and are always going to fight for our team at the risk of looking greedy. Obviously I saw a facility that was good enough to attract top talent in the area to be a Super Regional team.”
On increasing fan support:
“I’ve got six more right here [pointing to his family.] Here’s my approach. Our guys are part of the community, and we are driven by doing community service. If you get out there and those guys immerse themselves in the community, they help a ton of groups and a ton of people. The people they’re helping are going to feel like part of the program. So on top of winning and being successful and having a tradition like they do here, you get out here and be visible and make a lot of people happy and go out and do a lot of good deeds, they’ll come. That’s how we did it at Virginia Tech and I plan on doing the same here.”
On his football coaching career:
“I’m glad you didn’t ask me about my playing career. I think I’m the second-highest interceptions thrown leader at Davidson College. Second, only because I had a great senior year. I was on track to be a football coach; I was going to do the GA route. I was committed to doing it. I actually was one of the youngest full-time Division I coaches at Northeastern University. I think I was 24 years old when I got elevated to full-time status to coach d-line at Northeastern University. As you get older, your career changes but your values change. I knew I was going to get married, I knew I was going to have a big family, I knew how transient football coaches were. But the competitor in me, I could never rationalize working that hard for back then what was 10 days a year. I was lucky enough to have baseball on my resume. I wanted to go with the same motor and at least compete 56 times a year. I couldn’t stand losing on Saturday and letting that sit in my belly for six more days before I could feel good again. In baseball in a double-header, it’s a 20- or 30-minute turnaround and you’re feeling good again. To answer the question, it provided a more stable family life for me. I knew that, and I also knew I could be a head coach at a younger age than if I stayed on the football track.”
On if he’s talked to OU baseball alumni yet:
“No I haven’t, but it’ll be an area that we attack immediately. It’s too valuable, and there are too many resources out there. And if I don’t use them, shame on me. There are years and years of baseball tradition, people that are invested and rabid followers. I want them to be a part of our program. Selfishly, I want to learn from those guys because they’ve been there.”
On if he’s aware of past issues between the current team and alumni:
“I have no idea about that. All I know is who I am and I’m hard-working, honest guy who’s going to work tirelessly for this university and program, and I know the product we are going to put out there. We’re going to play hard, play with class and it’s going to be a product that alums from any age group, any era, any faction are going to love being a part of.”
On Fenway Park, and how many games he’s seen there:
“Into the 200s, 300s. When I was at Northeastern University, it was a half mile walk. So when I was young and single, I had time to sneak over to Fenway, establish a relationship with the ticket-takers and get in there for free for batting practices, and then leave. One of my greatest memories at Fenway Park wasn’t even a game I saw. I watched Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco take batting practice at Fenway and it was just a freak show. A lot of great memories at Fenway Park. It is a unique place. I was fortunate enough to coach a bunch of games there when I was at Boston College. It’s a fun place to go to. An expensive place to go to.”
On the warm weather in Oklahoma:
“I think it helps. Anytime you can get on the field in January and February, it helps in the development of the team. Recruiting wise, if we’re going to stay in region, these kids are familiar with the climate. If we’re going to recruit kids from the Midwest or New England, or cold-weather climates, it gives you an advantage in recruiting. In this case, in Oklahoma, I think it’s so advantageous from a development standpoint.”
On his recruiting philosophy:
“Like this place, you better take care of what’s in region, because you’re at a very popular school. You’d better take care of Oklahoma ties, which are prevalent. It’s advantageous in the recruiting process. I’ve always done that. When I was at Virginia Tech, when I was at Boston College, I did the same thing. Did we win all the recruiting wars in the region? No. If we did I wouldn’t be on a plane every weekend. This is what attracted me to this job, because we are the school in the region. Go out, hustle, establish relationships, and you should draw the best talent in the region. That’s my game plan.”