‘We Want Millionaires Coming Out Of This Program’: Penn State Baseball Head Coach Mike Gambino Sets High Standard For Program
It’s been more than two decades since Penn State baseball reached an NCAA Tournament.
Since a run to a Super Regional in 2000, the program hasn’t seen long-term success. It’s even struggled in Big Ten play, making the conference tournament just one time in the 10-year tenure of former head coach Rob Cooper. Newly-hired head coach Mike Gambino is ready to turn that around.
“It’s not just about going to Omaha for the Big Ten Tournament. And I understand that the Big Ten Tournament is great and it’s fun, and I would like to take a shot at winning that thing for sure,” Gambino said at his introductory press conference Tuesday. “But we want to go to the College World Series. And I’m not going to hide behind that.”
The declaration of intent to bring Penn State back to its first College World Series since 1973 is nothing new. Cooper said the same thing when he was hired and proceeded to lose 269 games over 10 years.
But Gambino comes to Penn State with higher expectations. He’s the latest hire in the revamping of Penn State’s athletic teams, kickstarted by Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Pat Kraft. Gambino not only enters with Kraft’s endorsement after the pair worked together during the latter’s stint at Boston College, but he also comes in with an impressive resume of his own.
Gambino produced 33 MLB Draft picks over his 13 years with Boston College. For the 269 games that Cooper lost at Penn State, Gambino won 291 with the Eagles, albeit with a few extra years to do so.
Nothing is off the table for Gambino. He set the bar high for himself in his first chance to talk to fans and media. If he means what he says, he’s coming to make Penn State a baseball school and to make State College a baseball town.
“I want to talk about hosting regionals. I want to talk about the College World Series,” Gambino said. “It’s what makes you get in a car and drive down here and check [Penn State] out. It’s what makes you talk about moving your family.”
Gambino is ready to bring change to Penn State. That will come through some team additions, and likely subtractions, through the transfer portal. It will also come through a change in culture. If declaring his intent to make Penn State a baseball powerhouse wasn’t enough, his promise to his new and future players stood out.
“I’m not gonna hide behind the fact that I want kids that want to play in the big leagues,” Gambino said. “That’s what we’re recruiting, we want guys that want to get drafted. We want millionaires coming out of this program.”
The first chance that Gambino has to create “millionaires” from his program comes with his current roster. According to Penn State’s newest head coach, it won’t be hard getting them on board. As much as Gambino wants to get to the College World Series, his new team is right there with him, he said.
“The thing that I’ve learned about this group [is that] these boys want to win,” Gambino said. “They’re hungry. They want to win. They love this place.”
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