Jake Boss: The Right Man, at the Right Place, at the Right Time for the Spartan Nation!

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MSU baseball coach Jake Boss credits a major part of his success to his father. As his high school coach, the elder Boss helped mold his son not only into a college-level player but into the coach he is today. Spartan Nation recently caught up with the MSU Coach.

           ”My dad in high school was very fiery,” he remembers, “but he would also make sure that nobody went home after he yelled at him before he put his arm around the player to say, ‘look this is what we’re trying to accomplish.’ Everything was a learning situation, and I think I took a page out of his playbook. I am a fierce competitor, but at the same time our kids have to realize that what we’re doing is important, and that’s why I get on them.”

           He also enjoys the fact that his job allows him to be a sort of father figure to his players, as well.

“That’s what we do,” he says. “We’re in a unique situation at this level, where we get to know a kid during the recruiting process when he is still a kid. We get to know these guys a lot of the times at 14, 15, 16 years old, and when they leave here they’re 22.  You get to watch them grow from young men to adults, and that’s one of the things that I think is so neat about this job. I really get to aid in that process. 

“We tell our guys all the time – we’re gonna treat you like men, so you need to act like men. If you prove to us that you can’t handle it, things will change a little bit, but at the same time we recruit good kids who are able to handle themselves. No one is perfect, but we’re trying to preach some accountability and personal responsibility, and they deserve that.”

He mentioned football coach Mark Dantonio as a similar kind of disciplinarian, despite some critiques the coach has faced in the public after several difficult situations the past couple years.

“There have been some tough situations he’s had to deal with, and he’s done it very admirably with the best interests of his kids in mind,” Boss says. “He got attacked in the public a little bit by people who maybe don’t know the whole story. We try to reserve judgment there and trust that he’s got the best interest of his kids at heart, and it really shows that he does with how his kids have handled themselves on and off the field recently.  I think he deserves a lot of credit. He’s a guy we all can learn from here and then try to model our program off of, considering the success he’s had.”

           Looking ahead to his own season, Boss says his team has the chance to be very good, despite losing key players off of last year’s conference championship team.

“There are a lot of uncertainties right now,” he says, “a lot of unknown. We lost the three best players in the Big Ten off last year’s team, and those are going to be big holes to fill, but at the same time I like the guys that are coming back. Baseball America has Torsten Boss as the preseason player of the year in the Big Ten. Ryan Jones is a junior who is back and is one of the best hitters in the conference.  Joel Fisher behind the plate is coming back after a strong freshman year, and Justin Scanlon was just voted the best defensive shortstop in the conference by the coaches. Those guys will be the nucleus, but the freshmen are extremely talented. I think we’re deeper than we’ve ever been, and I like our chances.”

           With baseball season beginning each year in February, though, northern teams can be at a disadvantage early in the season, having not had the same opportunities as the southern teams to practice outside. The Spartans, for example, are already 7-7 and do not even play their home opener for almost two more weeks.

           Boss says the early start is an issue at the college level, adding that most other northern coaches would say the same thing.

           “We’re happy to play anyone at any time, and we feel we have a good chance at the end of the year,” he says, “but it’s tough coming out at the end of February ready to compete. It is what it is, but we’re doing what we can to change things around a little bit, whether it’s starting later or playing some games in the fall. We’ll do what we can and see what happens.”

           Boss and the Spartans defeated Xavier and Seton Hall and fell to Pittsburgh this past weekend in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida. The team returns to action this upcoming weekend with a three-game series at Cincinnati.