July 1, 1997
Coach Rick Jones is not one to rest on his laurels. Several weeks after being named Conference USA coach of the year for guiding the Tulane baseball team to the best season in its history, winning 40 games and claiming the conference crown, Jones was speaking not of what had happened, but what might have been.
"We expected to be further along than we are," said Jones about a program he has revitalized in the four years he has been at Tulane. "The commitment to our program from Dr. Kelly and [athletic director] Sandy Barbour has been great. We are recruiting better players and better students."
But? "But we are bitterly disappointed that we were not invited to play in the NCAA regional competition," said Jones. According to Jones, of the 273 teams that play Division 1A baseball, only 18 of them won 40 or more games. "Plus we were conference champions," said Jones.
Jones credits his coach-of-the-year award solely to his players. "The award means you have a good club," he said. As for winning 40 games, Jones said, "It was fun to see our kids be part of it. We may look back at these years and reflect on the positive."
But not being invited to the regionals put a damper on the season, he added. "It was a shock. We believed it was not a question of whether we were going but where we were going."
Jones, who will enjoy the return of 10, perhaps 12, seniors, is already looking forward to next season. "We will use what happened this year for motivation," he said. "Maybe it will makes us more committed across the board to not only get into a regional but win one."
Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 firstname.lastname@example.org