He appeared earnest, reverent, humble and straightforward and his favorite verb may be “hustle.” One gets the sense he believes he’s made it as far as he has, at previously challenged programs, by outworking the competition.
But if Sooner fans want something to hold onto, begin with Hughes’ recruiting philosophy and move on to his embrace of the program and it’s history. Not one faction or another, but all of it.
Many coaches move from school to school, relying on the same geographic pod or the same long-held connections to get the majority of their players. Hughes is plenty connected, but his style is home grown.
“I’ve always wanted to coach at a school were you were the institution in the region … This is the state university, and it’s in one of the most fertile baseball grounds in the country,” he said. “Oklahoma, bordering Texas. If we have to go outside of that, then something’s wrong.
“It will be an inside out philosophy.”
Take a look at OU’s roster and the geographic make-up already reflects a similar philosophy. What’s telling is what it says about Hughes.
His last band of Hokies included nine Virginians, four Floridians, four players from Massachusetts, three from New Jersey and three from Connecticut.
He’s just not going to rely on old connections in his new job.
“You better take care of what’s in region … You better take care of Oklahoma ties … I’ve always done that,” he said. “When I was at Virginia Tech, when I was at Boston College, I did the same thing. Did we win all the recruiting wars in the region? No. If we did, I wouldn’t (have been) on a plane every weekend.”
He did what he could locally and expanded when he had to. He worked hard.