Coaches Corner: Jim Toman – Liberty University

tomanjim-usc07.jpgCoaches Corner – Jim Toman, Liberty University: The big guy was a fixture at ballparks across our state for more than a decade. His recruiting classes at USC speak for themselves. Jim Toman is the top cat at Liberty University now, but has taken time over his holiday for Diamond Prospects to answer a few questions about the past, present and future. Enjoy!

DP-How many years have you been in coaching? What got you into the business?

JT-A total of 24. 3 HS, 1 at FIU, 7 NC State, 11 at USC and 2 Liberty. This is my 25th year. I came from an athletic family and played college ball at NC State and I thought coaching was something I could excel at and would enjoy doing.

DP-What is the most rewarding thing about being a college baseball coach? 

JT-The relationships between the coaches and players and seeing the players succeeding in life and in Professional ball.

DP-What does the term "coach" mean to you? 

JT-Someone that can get the most out of a player, both personally and athletically.

DP-What is something you wish everyone knew about your profession? 

JTThat coaches at all levels put in a ton of hours and in most cases are really underpaid.

DP-In the fall of 1996, you came to Columbia as a very highly-decorated recruiting coordinator from North Carolina State. What type of adjustments did you have to make leaving your alma mater for USC?

JT-We had to learn the state of SC and make the state our top priority in recruiting and had to begin to understand the Clemson/USC rivalry and its importance to the fans.

DP-You’ve been to Omaha and had success. What is that experience like?

JT-I was very, very fortunate to help USC make it to the CWS three times. It is every coach’s dream to get there. It is everything it is made out to be and more. I would love to take Liberty there as well.

DP-In what ways is it different for you coaching at a mid-major school now versus being in the ACC/SEC?

tomanjim-dugout09.jpgJT-When I was as NC State and USC, I was an assistant so it was very different now being the head coach and also being at a mid-major. I realize that I am not as good a recruiter now! On the field it is very similar, the biggest change is recruiting. Many of the better players seem to want to go to the ACC/SEC…what they need to realize is that there are a lot of advantages to going to a school like Liberty. The opportunity for early playing time is more evident here than at some of the top SEC and ACC schools.

DP-After nearly two decades as an assistant coach, compare and contrast how is your role is now as the head coach.

JT-I still keep my hands on recruiting and definitely have a lot more things to worry about as the head coach. Luckily I have had great assistants.

DP-We all know there is very little money in getting started in coaching at the college level yet the time involved is mind-boggling, why did you do it?

JT-Good question. I wasn’t overly concerned about money when I was younger and really didn’t consider doing anything else.

DP-How do you balance the time demands of coaching and your family?

JT-Luckily I married a very understanding wife. God is first, family is second, and baseball a close third!

DP-Some people may not know the story of how you met your wife and how it relates to baseball in our state. Care to share?

JT-She picked me up at the Georgetown IP Classic, that’s how I remember it. She has another story.

DP-When you hear the expression "old school baseball", what does that phrase mean to you? 

JT-Playing the game the right way, the way the game was meant to be played. Hustling, playing hard, having fun. This is how everyone should play the game today.

DP-What is the definition of a "student-athlete"? 

JT-Someone that realizes that you go to school to get a degree first and athletics is secondary.

DP-What is your most memorable experience as a baseball coach? 

JT-The three trips to the College World Series.

DP-Quite a few rules have changed the recruiting game over the past 5 years. Which rule changes do you like, not like and how has it altered your approach to recruiting?

JT-I do not like the 27 scholarship slots or the 35 man roster limit. All these rules do is limit the opportunities for student-athletes. I would like to see 15 scholarships and divide them any way you like and have a limit of 40 players.

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a baseball coach and why? 

JT-Ray Tanner. He gave me an opportunity to coach at NC State and USC. I learned recruiting from him and learned how to run a clean program and treat people as fairly as possible and also learned a good work ethic from him.

DP-Who are the best three players you have coached against? 

JT-David Price, Mark Prior, Cliff Lee. There have been lots of others.

DP-What does it mean to be a good teammate and is that important? 

JT-Someone that everyone on the team can trust. Someone that puts the team ahead of himself. It’s a big part of team chemistry.

DP-Do you have any superstitions? If so, what?

JT-Not really. If things are going good I certainly don’t change things though.

DP-What do you see as the biggest difference in high school-aged players today versus when you played? 

JT-They play year round, they are bigger, stronger, and faster now. They aren’t as tough as we were back in the day…at least they don’t seem as tough!!

DP-Now switching gears, think back to your days as a baseball player, please list any notable accolades: 

JT-My senior year as NC State I set the ACC tournament record for total bases. I think it lasted for 20 years or so.

DP-What is your greatest high school thrill? 

JT-Probably having three interceptions in one game. Not bad for a slow middle linebacker.

DP-What is your greatest thrill, or two, beyond high school?

JT-ACC Tournament total-base record.

DP-Who were the three best players you played against? 

JT-Dan Marino in football and baseball. Jimmy Key (Clemson), BJ Surhoff (UNC)

DP-Who has made the greatest impression on you as a person and why? 

JT-My mom and dad taught me many things through tough love.

DP-What MLB feat in history do you wish you’d been inside the stadium to witness and why? 

JT-Bill Mazeroski’s homerun to beat the Yankees…because I am from Pittsburgh.

DP-Who is you favorite athlete outside of baseball?

JT-Are there other sports? I liked a lot of athletes growing up but my favorites would be the Steeler teams of the late-70’s and early-80’s who won 4 Super Bowls. 

DP-Who is your favorite MLB pitcher and position player to watch and why? 

JT-Albert Pujols and Manny Ramirez because they are my two sons’ favorites!

DP-Who is your favorite MLB team? 

JT-The awesome Pittsburgh Pirates!

DP-What is your favorite sport to play other than baseball? 


DP-What is your favorite sport to watch other than baseball? 

JT-College football or NFL when the Steelers are playing.

TomanJ-head.jpgDP-What are some of your hobbies? 

JT-I don’t golf, I don’t hunt, I don’t fish. My hobbies are just hanging out with my wife and three kids. Tucker is 6, Charlie Mac is 9 and Caroline is 12. We do like to drive around the country roads in Bedford county and count deer. Our record is 106 in 45 minutes.

DP-What is your favorite movie?

JT-I like lots of movies and go often and I like diet coke and pc with b (popcorn with butter)

DP-Who is your favorite actor? Actress?

JT-I’ve always liked Sandra Bullock, not really into the actors.

DP-What is your favorite meal?

JT-Probably a good ribeye from Ruth Chris. I am also half-Italian, so I am pretty much an expert on pizza pie!

DP-What is something people don’t know about you? 

JT-I am a born-again Christian.

DP-If you could have dinner with three people in history, who would they be and why?     

JT-Jesus Christ, My dad, Jerry Falwell. Jesus Christ is my Savior and I would ask Him about life in eternity. My dad, I would have lots to catch up on. Jerry Falwell, I never met him, I work at the University he founded, my kids go to the private school he started and my family goes to the Church he built. He was a man of great vision.

DP-Where do you see yourself in ten years?

JT-Head Baseball Coach Liberty University.

DP-Give a high school player who is reading this article one piece of advice. 

JT-Get your grades up, Listen to your parents, Find Faith, Work Hard, and "DTRTATT" (Do the right thing all the time.)

DP-Coach, we miss your presence down here in these parts on the South but appreciate your responses and time. Good luck in 2010!