Dirrigl: The Man Just Doesn't Lose.
Dirrigl: The Man Just Doesn't Lose.
Dirrigl is a native of Rochester, New York who stayed close to home when he played for Syracuse. He won a Championship in 88', a team he captained and the year he graduated. His leadership skills have shaped him into a fine coach and after stints at Loyola and Franklin and Marshall, he is taking on his first DI head coaching job. Here's what he had to say.
Lax.com: We don't know how much time you've had to
assess the program, but why has Rutgers; a school with
an established program, great facilities, and an
excellent reputation floundered year after
Coach Dirrigl: I could answer that a few different
ways. They didn't flounder ten years ago and I think
the game of lacrosse, the landscape of college lacrosse
has changed drastically in the last ten to fifteen
years. Head coaches have full-time assistants; many of
them have two full-time assistants. Rutgers, for many
years has not had the full-time assistants and
scholarships. I think what has happened is schools like
Loyola, Duke, and Princeton and those type of schools
which nobody heard of ten or fifteen years ago; they're
starting to care about their programs. Rutgers has made
a huge decision this summer. Their decision is that
they're going to try and win. We're up to full
scholarships and full-time assistants, so hopefully that
will start paying off soon.
Lax.com: How many years will it take for you to make
Rutgers a contender or do you feel you've got enough
talent right now to win?
Coach Dirrigl: My first hope is this. We learn
how to practice, we learn how to lift, and we learn how
to care. After I can really sit back and judge that,
I'll know more. I'll see how big the kids hearts are.
If they're big, we have a chance to win and compete
every day. I'd like to think that there's enough talent
right now and that we can get better this year, but I'm
not sure. Again, when we get into practice and it's
tough, and weightlifting is tough, we'll see how they
Lax.com: Rutgers historically has recruited from a few
key schools and milked them dry. Will you be able to
broaden the spectrum and do you feel confident that
you'll be able to draw top notch players?
Coach Dirrigl: I know this. I played at a high level
(Syracuse) and won a championship and I just got done
completing a stint at Loyola for seven years in which we
competed against everyone(top notch programs) and
recruited against everyone. When I first got to Loyola
it was probably sixty or seventy percent Maryland
players. Now the team is sixty or seventy percent New
York. Last year, we didn't get a kid from the state of
Maryland to come to Loyola.
Lax.com: So, is that your influence?
Coach Dirrigl: I would hope so. I recruited an awful
lot for Loyola. That's why I got the job here. We went
from a little Baltimore school that couldn't compete
with programs like Johns Hopkins to kicking their...
beating them. I think that every coach is confident
when they take the job. I do believe that recruiting is
my strong point. I do think that I understand talent.
It's not just recruiting, it's recruiting good players.
That's the difference; everybody says they recruit.
It's those people who understand what a good player is
and what a bad player is and I think I have that ability
to know what kids going to be a better player in college
than they were in high school.
Coach Dirrigl: I think the biggest thing that I'll be
looking for honestly, and again I keep coming back to
it. It comes back to how big their hearts are and how
athletic they are. If a kid's got heart and is tough as nails,
and he's a helluva' athlete; he's going to be a heavily
recruited kid whether he's a high school All-American or
just a starter on his high school team. We have to get
bigger and stronger here. We're small, we have to get
bigger and stronger...watching film, they(Rutgers) got pushed
around every game.
Lax.com: The last thing you needed coming into your first year as
a head coach was a slew of rule changes. Let's go
through the rules and tell us who it will hurt, who it
will help, and how you will adjust.
Coach Dirrigl: I think that in some ways if I'm able to
adapt early to the rule changes as well as those coaches that
adapt sooner than later, I will be more successful. The
rules in some ways hurt us, but in other ways help us
drastically because it will allow for those people who
prepare in practice and understand the rules to help
their teams come springtime. The rule changes hurt us a
little bit 'cause I think with the talent at the
midfield that Rutgers has with no horns on the sidelines
your going to have to play middies the old way. With
that in mind, people that have the athletes that we just
spoke about are probably going to do a little better
between the lines. It takes a little bit of the
coaching out of the box with getting different players
involved. I don't know how it's going to affect us. I
know I think about it every night. I know every morning
I get up thinking about it, and I know when I'm in my
car recruiting all I'm doing is writing things down
because those people who adapt quicker to the rules will
be more successful. I had all 19 of my practices
written out for the fall. I had to erase all of it
because of the new rule changes. We're going to
practice like the new rule changes make you practice,
so, your're going to have a shot clock at practice.
Your going to have to get a student manager out there to
run the clock...The save is made, the ball is cleared,
you've got forty seconds left, the kids are going to
have to learn how to play with the time.
Lax.com: You've got ten seconds left on the shot clock,
how will your players know?
Coach Dirrigl: That's a good question. It's going to
be interesting. We don't know... It's not bigtime
football my man, you know where everybody can say we
need ten thousand dollars. We're not going to have a
clock in each corner of the field. We're fighting for a
two thousand dollar one that we can use in practice to
make it more legitimate. If a coach is going to have to
be calling out 10-9-8 I'll tell you what, I'm going to
have a tough time coaching my kids....I think you'll see
a lot more zones. After ten fifteen seconds if a team
hasn' got a shot yet. Are coaches going to zone it all
Lax.com: Step outside of Rutgers for a moment. Do you
think the changes are good for lacrosse.
Coach Dirrigl: In my short lacrosse career this is the
first time I've been a part of such drastic changes. I
think in '90 they came out with the first ten second
rule and people fought it, but it turned out well. If
it helps our game, I'm all for it. Again, I've been so
worried about my first thought which is why does Rutgers
suck? I don't care, it doesn't bother me, I've been
taken' it from my brothers. Believe me, my brother can
give it to me pretty good. I've never lost before, I've
never lost, never! We've won ten games in three years here
(Rutgers). We won ten games in the regular season my
last five years at Loyola... People are bitchin' right
now in the coaching world, but time will tell. There
are a few things to look at. Are coaches going to have
their players practice whipping the ball over the cage?
Is that good for the game? I'm not so sure about that.
I hope it goes well...We could be talking a year from
now and the rule changes got Rutgers into the playoffs
for the first time in twelve years. Then I'll be like,
I love the rule changes.
Lax.com: You played under Roy Simmons JR. and coached
under Dave Cottle. What are a few of the most
enlightening things you learned from them on how to
Coach Dirrigl: They are two totally different men. Roy
Simmons was more of a father figure to his program.
Dave Cottle is more of a coach, I want to say this the
right way. Roy Simmons is a father figure to me and
someone that means the world to me and the world to
Syracuse lacrosse. He's a living legend in my opinion.
The day I got the job he talked about my parents more
than anything else because he knew how happy they would
be. He knows where I come from and he knows how tough
these jobs are to come by. That's the kind of guy he is. Dave Cottle is tougher. You
know Coach Simmons, he had an air about him when it was
game time. Coach Simmons was more about life and the
world. You know, you can be that way when your at
Syracuse, when you have all that talent. At Loyola
sometimes we didn't get the top talent. We had to coach
them. Coach Cottle was more of an X and O guy while
Coach Simmons was more of a big picture guy. Both good
people, but totally different people.
Lax.com: Rutgers has a long history in all sports of
having big hopes that never seem to pan out. Do you
feel alot of pressure to suceed from the administration.
Coach Dirrigl: There's no one here at Rutgers University whose going to
put more pressure on me than me. Nobody's telling me to
get in my car at 6 am and go on the road for a week
straight. Nobody's telling me to be on the phones until
ten o'clock at night. Nobody's telling me to do any of
this. They allow me to run this program the way it
should be run, the way a division one program should be
run. Do they (administration) want to win? I sure hope
so. I want people wanting to win. I think that's
good. I want to win also. There's nobody at Rutgers or
any of their alumni who have won more than me. I don't
care who it is. In this game (lacrosse) I've won a lot
of games; playing and coaching. I know what it's gonna
take. It's gonna' take a lot of hard work and a lot of
good players. We're only gonna' be as good as the
players I'm able to get. That's the bottom line. Are
their expectations? Honestly, it doesn't matter. It's
more important that I get this ship going in the right
direction for me. The worst they can do is fire me...I came here to win
and if I don't win I'd rather not be here any way
because that means I'm not good enough.
Lax.com: Will DeCicco remain as an assistant coach?
Coach Dirrigl: No.