Oct. 13, 2020

Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Baseball Coach: How A 2x National Champion Built A Culture of Sustained Excellence

Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt Baseball Coach: How A 2x National Champion Built A Culture of Sustained Excellence

My guest today is Tim Corbin, the head baseball coach at Vanderbilt University.

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My guest today is Tim Corbin, the head baseball coach at Vanderbilt University. Coach Corbin has built Vanderbilt into one of the most prominent programs in college baseball, making the College World Series four times and winning the National Championship in both 2014 and 2019. He’s also coached 15 players at Vanderbilt who ended up being selected in the first round in the MLB draft, including David Price, Sonny Gray, and Walker Buehler.

In this episode we learn why he made the Vanderbilt baseball team become the first college baseball program to build an alumni locker room, classroom, and nutrition center. We also discuss why he doesn’t believe in goals, what he looks for when recruiting players, and his relationship with other elite coaches including Penn State football coach James Franklin. Finally, we hear how he endured the tragic death of Vanderbilt freshman and former 1st round draft pick Donny Everett in 2016 right before the post-season, and what he learned about grief and resiliency.

(1:34) — What he focused on when he was first hired at Vanderbilt in 2003

(3:05) — What standards and values he prioritizes

(4:20 )— Why 60% of his former players contributed to a fundraiser for baseball facilities in 2016 (the national average is 2–3%)

(6:45) — Why he prioritized building an alumni locker room, nutrition center, and classroom for his team 

(10:52) — What he looks for in prospects when recruiting

(15:32 )— What common traits his best players have had

(19:08) — How he ensures all 40 players put the team first

(21:45 )— What “VandyBoys” stands for

(23:35 )— Why he doesn’t have slogans and quotes for the program

(25:40) — Why he doesn’t have goals for individual players and the team 

(27:40) — How he handled the tragic passing of his player Donny Everett in 2016

(33:06) — The experience of coaching for Team USA

(37:00 )— His relationship with University of Michigan head baseball coach, Erik Bakich 

(39:55) — His relationship with Penn St. football coach, James Franklin

(41:38) — The impact of winning two national championships

(44:35) — His thoughts on personal growth

(47:00) — End of episode questions

  1. What’s 1 book every coach should read? He doesn’t read a lot of books, prefers to listen to Jim Rome and podcasts like Finding Mastery by Michael Gervais
  2. Who is one person you’d want to hear as a guest on this podcast? Geno Auriemma, Brad Stevens, Erik Spoelstra, Billy Donovan, Chip Kelly
  3. What’s one area you’re looking to improve in over the next year? Keeping his mind sharp and staying relevant to the players
  4. What’s popular advice you hear people say that you think is wrong? When someone says, “this is a grind,” he disagrees. The grind is a terminal illness; this is a sport and he is being paid to coach college baseball. 
  5. What advice do you have for young coaches who are listening to this? Whatever position you are in, make it the best you possibly can. Do whatever you can to make the experience and the environment as good as you possibly can. Modeling what you do and being the greatest form of integrity is very important as a teacher and a coach. 
  6. What’s the darkest moment you experienced professionally and how did you overcome it? Handling the passing of his player, Donny Everett, and he leaned on his wife to get through it. He emphasizes the importance of having a life partner who can challenge and help you throughout your life. 

Favorite Quotes: 

“I think rules are for people who can’t follow directions; I think standards are for people who aspire to do special things.”

“Every choice has a consequence, and those consequences have outcomes. And I think when it gets down to it, it’s trying to help them with those decision-making processes they have during the course of day. And those decisions are small in nature but they lead to more positive outcomes if you do them well.”

“I think a lot of the time goals setup expectations and expectations get us in trouble sometimes. If you’re putting parameters around your life, you’re just expecting life to move in a directional, certain way, and that’s just not the way it is.”

“Those thoughts of winning and the torturous thinking of winning is more debilitating than prospering. I’ve found it not to be healthy in so many different ways.”