John Pawlowski’s first words after being introduced as Auburn’s new head coach in a press conference/teleconference this evening should help endear him to the Auburn faithful right off the bat.
"War Eagle, War Eagle, that is the chant," Pawlowski said.
Not surprisingly, he sounded genuinely excited and honored to have the opportunity to lead the Tigers.
"We’re going to move this program onward and upward, and I’m excited to be part of it," Pawlowski said. "Our goals are more than to win SEC championships and go to Omaha, our goal is to recruit quality student-athletes on and off the field. Our kids are going to be blue collar kids, they’re going to get an education that will go far beyond the playing field. When you look at the history of this program, I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of some of the great people. Coach Hal Baird was a mentor of mine for a number of years. I’ve had a chance to talk to some of the players, and I’m excited to learn what it takes for us to join forces and get this program where it needs to be.
"Auburn is a place I’ve watched for a number of years. A chance to get in this conference and compete on a national level, it goes without saying . . . I looked at it and said, ‘How can you go wrong with this opportunity?’"
Which isn’t to say Pawlowski didn’t have plenty of glowing, grateful things to say about College of Charleston, which gave him his first opportunity to be a head coach. But when this opportunity came along, he said, he didn’t hesitate. Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs sent him a text message at 7:30 this morning asking what his schedule was like the next few days.
"It didn’t matter what my schedule was–I was going to clear my schedule to get here," Pawlowski said. "It’s been non-stop since this morning."
Pawlowski said his first priorities would be contacting each of his returning players and his incoming recruits (several of whom were drafted). He also needs to complete his coaching staff; he said he wasn’t sure whether his staff at CofC would be coming with him or not. But he should have no shortage of interested candidates.
"As you can imagine, my phone’s been ringing off the hook–people I haven’t talked to in years–’Hey, remember me?’" Pawlowski half-joked. "No, I don’t, sorry."
Pawlowski talked a lot about making the university community proud of the people produced by its baseball program. Like fellow members of the Jack Leggett coaching tree, Pawlowski’s team will play a hard-nosed style that should be a big hit in Auburn.
"The most important thing is we’re going to roll up our sleeves and go blue collar," Pawlowski said.
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