OPINION: As a Cal State Fullerton alumnus, booster and (former) donor, I cannot begin to tell you…
OPINION: Stay the Course
As I write this, the Long Beach series will begin in just a few hours. We are now in Day 16, and have participated in 9 games since Titan head coach Rick Vanderhook was placed on indefinite suspension on April 17.
While none of us can presume to know the exact allegations that have been made, and must respect the due-diligence that the university must proceed with in order to ensure that our student-athletes are protected, I feel that I nevertheless must offer this rebuttal to the editorial posted on Titan Central some days ago by Samuel Chi.
First of all, let me say that I know Sam, and I deeply respect him. A better Titan baseball fan simply cannot be found. With that said, please know that I deeply disagree with him, and what I perceive to be a rush to judgment.
The Rick Vanderhook that I know cares deeply about his players, and wears the history of the Cal State Fullerton program and the responsibility for its success on his sleeve.
I love our baseball program, as I do all of our sports at Cal State Fullerton. Over these last 30 or so years I have put my money, sweat and effort into trying to make our Titan programs as good as they can possibly be. I would never let my personal feelings interfere with what I perceive to be the best interests of the overall success of Titan Athletics.
While not claiming to have been as deeply involved with baseball as I have been with Titan basketball, I nevertheless have had some level of a relationship with all Titan baseball head coaches since Augie Garrido threw a then-oversized T-shirt to me when I was still in high school around 1975.
I think that we can all agree that we have been fortunate to have had some great baseball coaches who have built a perennially successful, nationally-recognized program from literally the parking lot up.
So let me tell you a little bit about Rick Vanderhook. I believe that he is EXACTLY the right man for this job. No one has wanted the position and responsibility more. No Titan baseball head coach has worked harder behind the scenes on fundraising, improvements to Goodwin Field, and overcoming the intrinsic bureaucracy that permeates every breath of life at Cal State Fullerton.
I've been to practices, and I've seen that they are well-organized, focused on the fundamentals of baseball, and involve a lot of joking and laughter by the players and coaches. Rather than acting as an aloof CEO, Vanderhook is hands-on, whether it be hitting fungoes or sitting behind home plate to gage the pitchers.
I'm not sure that anyone would dare to challenge Vanderhook's baseball acumen. It is no accident that UCLA's long-underachieving program developed by leaps and bounds following his involvement, and it is certainly not by happenstance that Fullerton won 51 games last season, and has developed one of the finest pitching rosters in college baseball.
Unfortunately, success has not been as easy this season. Pre-season expectations have clearly not been met. This has led to frustrations for all concerned – players, family, alumni, fans, and this most certainly would include Rick Vanderhook.
I cannot claim to have been in the dugout, locker room or any other place with this team. I don't know first-hand what has transpired. But any suggestions that coach Vanderhook's verbal interactions are the source for his suspension is merely conjecture. Let's let the process unfold before convicting him.
In closing, I want to say this: If no actions of Rick Vanderhook's rise to the level of provable malfeasance, he should be returned to his head coaching position as soon as is practicable. Any suggestions or conditions for his return will, I'm sure, be followed through respectfully and thoughtfully like the professional that he is.
I believe with all of my heart that Rick Vanderhook deserves a chance at redemption. He's earned our trust and support over many, many seasons.
While I am under no illusions that my sentiments expressed here will have any effect on the eventual outcome, I would be remiss if I failed to express my opinion and my public support for a man that I have tremendous respect and admiration for, head coach Rick Vanderhook.
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