I sat down a couple weeks ago to talk with men’s soccer coach Brett Surrency for a feature story that was on our GSS.com content plan for this week (read it here). It could have been four stories really considering how easy it is to talk with him. The best part of having a conversation with Surrency is how confident he is in his players and program. I’ve been around athletics for more than 15 years and it’s still refreshing to hear from coaches who are straightforward and honest about how they go about their business.
Anyway, he had so many interesting things to say, I couldn’t fit it all in the story, so I thought I’d share some here on the blog (that’s why we started it, right, to give you some extra or inside access?). Let me know what you think about the upcoming season.
Surrency on scheduling teams home versus away: I still look at us very much as a program on the rise. I may think differently if last year went as planned, but with what we had coming back, and how we anticipated staying healthy, we looked for a similar run to 2011 and then that [going to the NCAA tournament] becoming the standard at GSU. So we still consider ourselves and up-and-coming team.
Scheduling for us has changed slightly, and we now have programs — and the ACC is a good example — we have teams calling us and saying ‘We know you’re a good RPI game, you play the game the right way, we know it’s going to be a good game’ and that has changed a little bit.
Right now we understand that to get those upper echelon games, we still have to travel and that’s Ok for now. Ultimately we feel that the program is going to get itself to the point where we will be one of those upper echelon teams. A great example I look at is Boise State football. Years ago, they [would go play a BCS school on the road] for $500,000 but now they have bigger teams coming their way. Or it used to be a 2-for-1, and now it’s a 1-for-1. You have to earn that respect in the [sporting] community and there are a lot of things that go with that. Obviously, if we can be a great game for somebody, we can say ‘Come here and be in the Atlanta market. It’s a great market for soccer.’
Surrency’s on recruiting philosophy and scheduling: We sell our recruits on the schedule. We could easily play some different teams and have a quote-unquote better chance of winning, but there’s not one game on our schedule right now that we think we scheduled just to schedule it. We’re confident we can win any game on our schedule. And that’s part of what we want with the confidence within our program. We want that to be installed in our players too. When we bring in recruits and sit them down, we tell them that our expectation is that we are in the NCAA tournament, and to get there you have to beat good teams and you have to have great players. So we are recruiting guys who are recruiting great players for us and who can come in and ultimately compete for a spot today.
When you look at our team right now with returners, we really like them. However, we told that group of the guys as well as the incoming group of guys ‘You will come in and compete and battle.’ To the incoming guys, this won’t be handed to you, there is still plenty of talent here. And to the returning guys, we simply say that you may feel good about your position in the spring, but there are 11 more guys coming in the fall and if you think you can just coast at this same level, you’re mistaken.
We don’t recruit guys who can come in and sit on the bench. We recruit guys who can come in and maybe knock out some of the returners. So if you look at it, if we had 2-3 guys who maybe started in 2012 and now come off bench, then we just got better and deeper as a program. And that’s what we’re trying to do every year. And we don’t hide that. We tell the guys and hopefully they use that as motivation. It only takes one guy and they understand, ‘Oh they’re serious’. Ultimately it’s on the guys to get better and improve and hold this guy off.
We are starved for competition and always want that to happen.