Kingston with busy start to Gamecocks baseball tenure
By PETE IACOBELLI
Jul. 26, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Mark Kingston has not had much time to relax since taking over South Carolina's baseball team. The new Gamecocks coach doesn't plan to give his players much time to adjust either.
"I'm not a patient person," Kingston told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "I want success yesterday and I know our fans see it the same way."
Kingston, 47, became only the third Gamecocks head coach in 21 years last month , charged with bringing a College World Series champion back into national title contention. South Carolina missed the NCAA Tournament in two of the past three seasons, leading to the change at the top.
Kingston was building a powerful program at South Florida, which made the NCAAs in two of the past three years. He thought it had the chance to play in NCAA super regionals and make the CWS in upcoming seasons. He was not looking to move anywhere. But he got a call from South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner to gauge his interest.
"The further we went into the process, the more I realized that if he offered this job that I would be taking it," Kingston said.
Kingston's time since his introduction on June 30 has been spent finalizing a staff, shoring up next year's roster, watching young players and meeting Gamecocks fans who maybe had another, high-profile coach in mind as Chad Holbrook's replacement.
"I think our fans were a little bit hesitant about who their new coach was unless it was one of two or three guys that are in Omaha every year," Kingston said. "But I think once they heard my vision of the program, once they saw me speak about what my experiences were and where I thought I could take this program, that eased some of their concerns."
Kingston has his staff in place. He brought in Mike Current as recruiting coordinator from USF and held onto pitching coach Jerry Meyers and Gamecocks staffer Stuart Lake. Keeping Meyers was particularly crucial because Kingston said South Carolina will have to rebuild its pitching staff with Clarke Schmidt, Wil Crowe and Tyler Johnson taken in the first five rounds of last month's Major League Baseball draft.
Kingston likes the nucleus of returning players. He stresses, however, that they've got to put in the work to improve if they hope to get on the field.
A long-time baseball man from Buffalo, Kingston attended his first major league game to see the Blue Jays at Toronto's old Exhibition Stadium. He thrives on seeing his teams play fundamentally sound baseball. He loves speed and power and won't be afraid to let analytics enter the discussion about how to get the most out of his teams.
Tanner, who won CWS titles in 2010 and 2011, said when evaluating Kingston, "there wasn't a box he didn't check."
Kingston said the more he and Tanner spoke, the more the new coach realized how similar they were. Kingston believes having a boss who knows how to coach winning baseball gives him an edge. If there's something amiss on the field or in recruiting, Kingston said Tanner will be an asset to talk with or bounce ideas off of.
Right now, Kingston is happy to have a complete staff and a good reception from area recruits. Next comes preparations for fall ball, when Kingston hopes to get a true glimpse into what he'll take to the field next season.
"We're working our butts off to do well, and you know when that happens a lot of people are going to get a kick out of it," he said.