Vanderbilt head baseball coach Tim Corbin flew into Omaha and wasted little time returning a phone call that might help serve to enlighten Florida fans about their new coach and his best friend, Sully.
Corbin and Sully are probably a lot like most of us. At one time or another, we have all had somebody who we worked side-by-side with that we considered a friend more than merely a co-worker. The task at hand was more easily accomplished and things often fell into place when working alongside that friend. That’s especially true in the coaching community where the long hours and seemingly endless road trips make for tremendous opportunity to bond. It’s obvious that Corbin and Sully share many of the same personality traits.
“He’s not too serious and neither am I,” Corbin said of his friend off the field. “He’s funny. He’s just fun to hang around with. When we’d go out together, with my wife and his former wife or girlfriend, as she was when we first met, it was just continual laughs. He’s got a great sense of humor. His energy on the field is the same after he’s done. He never dies down. He’s just hilarious.”
How far do the pair go back?
“I met him before he got to Clemson,” he recalled. “He was at the University of Virginia before he got to pro ball. When he did Coach (Jack) Leggett and myself called him (Kevin O’Sullivan) and asked him if he had any interest in becoming our pitching coach her at Clemson when our pitching coach left. When he said that he did I thought that it was the best hire in the world. When he came in, we both shared an office and I can tell you from the standpoint of a guy who lived it and died with the game of baseball he was a perfect match. He was a guy that I spent a lot of time around. That’s all that we did and we drew from each other. I could always tell that as a young coach, he always had so much knowledge of the game. Besides his knowledge, he’s a people person. Kids love playing for him. He’s got that quality attraction that people gravitate towards. He’s got endless energy.”
Many have speculated that he’ll excel in the arena of working with the battery mates. However, Corbin disagrees with that thought and says that Sully is the complete package.
“He’ll have tremendous input in the entire game because he is so versed in it,” Corbin said. “He was a catcher in college, but then he became a pitching coach. His knowledge of the game exceeds just pitchers. He was always working with our hitters at Clemson. He was working with the catchers at Clemson. He was working with the infielders and outfielders. He just has such a strong knowledge base. His baseball father if you will is Bob Shaw, who he played baseball for in Legion ball in the West Palm area. He just became a sponge. He knew so much about the game, but he always wanted to know more and more. “
“I think the thing that he’ll do for that program is just that the kids will gravitate to him,” Corbin added. “He’s that personality. He’s fun to play for, but he’s got a sense of discipline. He’ll be firm with the kids, but yet he’ll make the game of baseball fun for them. I think that will always be Sully’s strength.”
O’Sullivan stated repeatedly that this was his dream job. Working for a program that is serious about contending every year and has dedicated the resources to make certain that happens. He also gets the opportunity to return home and spend time with family when he not busy building the Gators into a squad that should spend one very exciting weekend each year playing Southeastern Conference Champion, Vanderbilt.
“I’m very excited for him personally,” Corbin stated. “I really am. I’ve talked to him a couple of times during the process. I felt that it was an honor that he was talked about as a head coach. And then when he became a head coach, my wife and I were very, very happy, because he just works endless hours and the game means a lot to him. I just think that when people work that hard they should be rewarded for it. You know he had many opportunities to leave Clemson, but he never did. He just waited his turn for the right thing to come up. I think that Jack Leggett, who I worked for and Sully worked for is very proud. He’s very proud that he sent two assistants who worked for him for a long time into major college baseball as head coaches and it’s just going to be fun. He’s competitive, but I’m competitive, but that’s never going to get in the way of our relationship. We’ve got a long relationship that stems from a lot of years of hard work together. I’m just happy for him, very happy for him and I’m just taken back in a lot of ways because he’s so deserving. He definitely will do everything with that program that he can and there’s no question about that.”
For those who rationalize that these are merely the comments of one friend supporting another, you’re half right. But, go back and read O’Sullivan’s statements upon taking the job and you’ll see that Corbin has described his friend extremely well. And why not?
They are two class acts. One is living out his dream after building a program that nobody would have expected to spend a season- any season, at number one. The Commodores figure to be a national force to be reckoned with for many years to come. The other is riding a wave above the clouds, just beginning to set his table that will lead his own team back to national prominence and do so consistently. Through years of effort, both have demonstrated the determination putting the best interests of the kids and the game first and foremost. Yep, it’s hard to imagine that Jack Leggett could be any prouder.