June 27, 2013
By Phillip Marshall
AUBURN - For Scott Foxhall, four weeks of anxiety and uncertainty ended Tuesday with a telephone call from first-year head baseball coach Sunny Golloway.
Golloway told him he wanted him to remain on Auburn's staff as pitching coach and primary recruiter. For Foxhall and his wife Laura and 5-year-old twins Kade and Kennedy, it was a big day.
"Very excited," Foxhall said. "It's great for my family."
Foxhall, who spent two seasons at Auburn under former head coach Hal Baird, returned with former John Pawlowski in 2009. He coached pitchers his first three seasons and concentrated on recruiting the past two seasons, landing two nationally ranked classes.
When Pawlowski was fired on May 27 after missing postseason play for the fourth time in five seasons, it was widely assumed that no members of his staff would be retained. But Foxhall believed he had something to offer. When, after nine seasons at Oklahoma, Golloway was introduced as Auburn's head coach, Foxhall reached out to him.
"A lot of times you are guilty by association," Foxhall said. "I understood that, but we had some good talks. I think it was a perfect storm that it's a new area for him and I kind of had a grip on the area. I think he evaluated what we've done recruiting the last couple or three years.
"We communicated a little bit on press conference day. I just reached out to him and told him congratulations, that I wanted to help him with his team and I also would like to talk to him about myself."
When Golloway traveled to see some of Auburn's players in the Cape Cod League and elsewhere, he saw the players Foxhall had recruited. But what about pitching?
Even in 2009-2011, when he was officially the pitching coach, Foxhall shared the duties with Pawlowski. The past two seasons, he did little on-field coaching.
"We had to talk about the pitching," Foxhall said. "J.P. didn't ask me to do that as much. The last couple of years, he wanted me to recruit all the time. At best, it was a dual system (the first three seasons). I am looking forward to the autonomy of having it by myself."
It was different, Foxhall said, when he was on Pawlowski's staff at the College of Charleston. He had more autonomy. At Auburn, Pawlowski wanted to do things differently.
"The programs we were around - South Carolina and Clemson - it seemed like they had one guy that all he did was recruit," Foxhall said. "I think Coach Golloway's model is he wants his coaches to coach. We are going to continue to recruit. That's the big thing. I needed to talk to him about pitching and he needed to talk to people who knew me about coaching."
Finally, it all came together.
Foxhall said his pitching philosophy comes from his days at Auburn pitching for Baird, widely recognized as one of the top pitching coaches in Southeastern Conference history.
"Command the fastball, No. 1," Foxhall said. "And then being able to throw aggressive off-speed pitches. Especially with the way the bats are, that's what you have to do. Coach Baird is my coaching hero. Every situation I put myself I try to think what would Coach Baird do. That's what he believed in. I like to throw strikes, changed speeds and work fast. We have to pound the fastball, change speeds and have some tempo in the game."
No. 1 starter Conner Kendrick and Will Kendall are gone from last season's pitching staff. But all the rest are expected to return. They'll be joined by two of the nation's top prospects in incoming freshmen Keegan Thompson of Cullman High School and Kevin Davis of T.R. Miller in Brewton.
"I'm excited about the staff coming back," Foxhall said. We add Keegan Thompson and Kevin Davis. They are special. Those are difference-makers."
It was no secret last season that relationships between Pawlowski and his players deteriorated badly. Foxhall said he expects no such problems.
"I've always felt like I have good relationships with players," Foxhall said. "Part of an assistant's job is to be a buffer for the head coach. He has to make a lot of tough decisions, and a lot of them are unpopular. You try to give them the other side of the story. You can't fool them over the course of time. If you're not genuine and sincere about it, they are going to see through it.
"We have to make sure we have kids in that locker room that are playing for each other and playing for Auburn."
Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for AuburnTigers.com. Follow Marshall on Twitter: