John E. Hoover: Josh Holliday returns home to OSU
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Saturday, June 09, 2012
6/09/12 at 4:32 AM
Related story: Holliday glad to be home.
Go to John E. Hoover's blog.
STILLWATER - When Harry Birdwell fired Tom Holliday after the 2003 baseball season, Oklahoma State cut ties with the Holliday family, and the Holliday family was equally bitter toward OSU. Hiding their acrimony was a wasted effort.
But nine years has healed those wounds.
Josh Holliday's hiring as head coach at Oklahoma State was something of a long shot. Not because the 35-year-old Holliday isn't cut out for his first head-coaching gig, but because of the ugly divorce between his father and his school.
Tom Holliday got work (and has had success) as an assistant at Texas and North Carolina State, and Josh sought employment (and won a lot of games) as an aide at N.C. State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and Vanderbilt.
Josh Holliday's exile had a benefit.
"He's a much better prepared person to be a head coach today than I believe he would have ever been if he had stayed in Stillwater and coached at Oklahoma State," said Mike Holder, the former golf coach who replaced Birdwell in 2005 as OSU's athletic director. "So sometimes you never know when a bad break turns out to be a good break."
The Josh Holliday that stood before friends, family and media at Gallagher-Iba Arena on Friday afternoon was just a more seasoned version of the Josh Holliday that coached for his dad in 2001-03. And that Josh Holliday was merely a bit older in years than the Josh Holliday who exuded leadership and maturity as a player for the Cowboys from 1996-99.
Being away helped Holliday set aside resentment and regain appreciation for Oklahoma State's rich history, as well as where he fit into it and how he could enhance it.
"Leaving's hard, because it's your home. It's the only home we ever knew," Holliday said. "All I can tell you is that for 25 some-odd years, my mom and dad gave the best years of their lives to Oklahoma State, and they loved every minute of it. And Oklahoma State gave us a lot back. The better part of my young life, I did the same thing.
"You never lose that appreciation for what a place has done for you. Was it hard? Of course. But can you mature and look at it and appreciate what it meant to you? Absolutely."
Holder said he and Holliday never discussed salary. (Frank Anderson made just over $400,000 a year, and Holder said he has a figure in mind that he will be present at the OSU Board of Regents meeting June 20-21 in Oklahoma City.)
Holder also said he and Holliday never discussed "in negative terms" the need to renovate aging Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. (Holder said if a new stadium is built from scratch, he would like to spend about $30 million for a new facility on a $10 million tract of land OSU has acquired on the northeast corner of Washington Street and McElroy Road.)
Holder also said the fact that Holliday's little brother, St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Holliday, has deep pockets had nothing to do with his decision. (As OSU baseball has struggled to find major benefactors on Anderson's watch, Matt Holliday signed with the Rockies for $53 million and the Cardinals for $120 million.)
The former OSU quarterback signee could soon become Cowboy baseball's biggest fan.
"We don't expect anything from Matt Holliday in the way of financial assistance," Holder said. "But if someday he chooses to do that, we're not gonna turn it down."
Josh Holliday said he'll do his part.
"Matt's excited for me," he said. "This is home to him, too. You can't grow up in that dugout and on those buses and on those fields and follow this and not have a place in your heart for what it is. As is always the case, I'm gonna reach out to everyone that loves what we do and ask them to be part of supporting these kids."
Holliday says he didn't speak with Holder about the job until Tuesday - a day after Vanderbilt was eliminated from a regional by N.C. State. The Commodores beat the Wolfpack two days previous, but it's Tom Holliday, not Josh, who's playing this weekend against No. 1 national seed Florida in Gainesville.
Tom Holliday used to get emotional just answering questions about his son. Imagine how he feels today.
"It's a great feeling when you love someone to see something good happen for them," Josh Holliday said. "It lifts you. I hope this moment lifts him. I hope he coaches and enjoys the weekend. Gosh, I'd be real proud of him if they went to the World Series."
Josh said he'd soon begin putting together his staff, but don't expect Tom to work for his son. That'd be folly. It might feel good for Tom to stick it in the faces of those who fired him, but as good a pitching coach as Tom is, it wouldn't best serve his son.
Josh is clearly moving past those feelings, anyway.
"I don't really see it that way any more," he said. "... You can't change who you are. I'm a Cowboy."
Original Print Headline: Holliday returns home to OSU
Family: Wife Jenny, children Olivia and Brady. His younger brother is St. Louis Cardinals standout Matt Holliday. Dad is former OSU head coach and pitching coach Tom Holliday.
High school: Standout in football and baseball at Stillwater High School (1995). ... was drafted in 14th round of 1995 MLB draft by Minnesota. ... USA Today Gatorade player of the year. .... Mizuno/Collegiate Baseball High School All-American. ... co-valedictorian.
College: Oklahoma State (1996-99) ... Four-year letter winner ... starter on four teams that made NCAA Tournament appearances and reached College World Series in 1996 and 1999 ... Played in 256 games .. career .311 batting average ... ranks in school's top five in games played, at-bats, runs, hits, doubles, RBIs ... ninth-round pick by Toronto in 1999 MLB draft.
Coaching: Assistant at OSU (2001-03), North Carolina State (2004), Georgia Tech (2005-07), Arizona State (2009), Vanderbilt (2010-12).
Josh Holliday speaks during a news conference at Oklahoma State to introduce him as the new head baseball coach in Stillwater, Okla. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman