Penn State Authors Dramatic Turnaround StoryUnder The Radar
One of college baseball’s great turnaround stories this year is taking place at Penn State. A month into the season, the Nittany Lions are 10-3, and riding high after a big road series win at UCF and a midweek win at Pittsburgh.
For context, last year Penn State didn’t win its 10th game until May 4.
It might seem like this early success came out of nowhere for a program that went 3-21 in the Big Ten last year and 4-20 the year before. But sixth-year head coach Rob Cooper said the seeds of this turnaround were planted in the dark days at the end of the 2017 season, and those seeds began to form roots during the struggles of 2018.
“First of all, I’m extremely pleased with how our guys have played the first month,” Cooper said. “It doesn’t take a genius — I don’t think I’ve hid from it or anybody has hid from it — the last two years have not been acceptable, for multiple reasons. I knew I need to do to better, the coaching staff needs to do better, and we needed to get multiple guys to buy in to do this thing.
“It really kind of started two years ago, after the 2017 season. I was like, ‘All right, we’ve got to get back to the culture and really double down on that again.’”
Committing to the culture meant maintaining trust in the process, even when the on-field results weren’t there. When Cooper was the head coach at Wright State, he would do a culture workshop every Friday, emphasizing things like the mental game, sometimes even bringing in guest speakers. Last year, he brought that back, as part of his broad plan to build a winning culture.
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