Maryland baseball right-hander Taylor Bloom was the first to congratulate Rob Vaughn on becoming the eighth head coach in program history, sending him a text message asking whether he would allow the Terps to wear their pants all the way down in lieu of stirrup socks.
The high socks were a staple of Maryland’s uniforms under former coach John Szefc, who accepted the same position at Virginia Tech earlier this month. Vaughn predicts Bloom was partly joking but noted the Severna Park native believes he looks more athletic with the long pants, which likely explained his curiosity.
Vaughn told Bloom the Terps could earn the privilege to wear their pants all the way down, but that it wouldn’t just be given, similar to the mentality he has instilled in Maryland’s hitters the last five seasons. The candid response made clear why Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson didn’t need to look beyond College Park to find Szefc’s successor.
“My biggest thing for them to understand is the group that is assembled in the fall of 2017 hasn’t earned anything yet,” Vaughn said. “That’s what we’ve been really good at. There hasn’t been a lot of complacency in this program.”
Vaughn, who at 29 is among the youngest coaches in college baseball, has ample experience achieving desired outcomes. After he hit .281 with five home runs during his senior season as a catcher at Kansas State, the White Sox drafted him in the 30th round of the 2009 MLB Draft.
He then spent two seasons as an assistant at Kansas State and was prepared to accept a hitting coach job at Pratt Community College in 2012 before Szefc brought him to Maryland as the hitting instructor.
Vaughn’s mentors at the time told him his lack of experience would prevent him from getting a coaching job. But the Terps have won 30 games in each of Vaughn’s five seasons, a record streak for the program.
Vaughn has also orchestrated Maryland’s recruiting efforts, taking pride in finding under-the-radar high school players to contribute. Right-hander Brian Shaffer, the team’s Friday night starter this year who recently signed a contract with the Diamondbacks after being selected in the sixth round, is among the latest examples.
“Rob is one of the top young coaches in all of collegiate baseball,” Anderson said in a statement. “He is a dynamic [recruiter] and excels in player development. Rob has played an integral role in the baseball program’s recent run of success. I’m confident that Rob will successfully lead our program.”
Perhaps most notably, the Humble, Texas, native will be inheriting a program that isn’t rebuilding but rather has emerged as one of the best in the Big Ten. Bloom, left-hander Tyler Blohm, center fielder Zack Jancarski and third baseman AJ Lee highlight a core that could help the Terps remain atop the conference standings next season.
Nonetheless, Vaughn values his earned-not-given mantra as he reviews candidates to fill vacancies on his coaching staff. Pitching coach Ryan Fecteau and director of baseball operations Corey Haines both accepted offers to join Szefc in Blacksburg, Virginia, enabling Vaughn to make additional hires.
Maryland’s staff will feature its third pitching coach in three seasons, but still, Vaughn isn’t in a hurry. He doesn’t plan to make an addition just for the sake of doing so.
Vaughn will continue to turn to principles related to “The Pack,” his offensive philosophy that preaches toughness, approach and intensity. And “Pack Training” could continue in the fall, helping the Terps form an identity and reinforcing the fact that something as simple as uniform style has to be earned under his leadership.
“This group is going to put the work, and they will have the opportunity to earn things like their pants down,” Vaughn said. “Hopefully Mr. Anderson looks up here in a few years and says, ‘Man, we made a good call by keeping him here.'”