What will it take for this team?
PWD Intro: Tonight, I spent about 30 minutes talking Bulldog Baseball with Michael Rebhan. Rebhan was a starting pitcher for the 1990 Georgia Bulldog College World Series Champs. Rebhan was named Most Outstanding Player of the CWS after beating the Stanford Cardinal and Mike Mussina twice. Those two wins helped power Georgia into the finals vs. Oklahoma State. I asked him about the 1990 team and the latest edition of the Bulldogs. Below is Part 2 of the interview. You can find Part 1 here.
PWD: What does it take to win a national title?
MR: It takes a ton of hard work, great chemistry, great coaching, great leadership and some lucky breaks.
PWD: What does this team need to do to win a title?
MR: They need to keep doing exactly what they are doing now. Keep pitching, playing defense, clutch hitting and keep leading. I felt great about this team when they got to Omaha, and I feel great now.
As long as they stay hungry, they’ll be fine. That’s exactly what I see from them. They are hungry. No matter the score or how late it is. They keep fighting. I think they have what it takes to go down to the wire and win a second title.
PWD: Did you go pro after college?
MR: After the Stanford game, I was approached by the Dodgers, Braves and Pirates. They were interested in signing me as a free agent, and the Dodgers pursued me the hardest. They wanted me to fly down to Vero Beach almost immediately for their instructional league, and then ship me out to Iowa to their Double A team.
It had been such a long season, that I couldn't even fathom playing for several more months. Dave Fleming and I had pitched so many innings that it had really taken a toll on me. At that point, I realized that I wasn't playing for the love of the game anymore.
I had accomplished what made me happy, and I was ok with walking away at that point. Plus, I was married with two kids, and it was time to take care of my family. The thought of touring around on buses in the minor leagues didn't appeal to me the way that it did when I was younger.
I can say with full confidence that if I had to do it all over again, I'd choose the same thing.
PWD: How much bigger is college baseball now?
MR: I’ve had a number of discussions with different people about that topic. Just on a technical basis the game has advanced light years compared to 20 years ago.
For instance, back then we didn't know much about the arm of pitchers. We didn't want them to lift weights. We mainly wanted pitchers to work on stretching and flexibility. Hitters were focused on hand eye coordination over strength. It’s all very different now.
There are so many more professionals teaching the game, and so much more competition. When I was in junior high and high school, there weren't many places where you could play year round…even in Florida. Now, you can't afford not to play year round if you're looking at baseball to be your [primary] sport.
The coaching has also advanced light years. That has been crucial to the advancement of the game. Amazingly, this is happening while scholarships are being removed from collegiate baseball.
PWD: In the ESPN era where College Baseball is so much bigger, do you wonder what the reaction would’ve been if you had a CWS performance like that today?
MR: Those in the know understand what I did. Folks will sometimes come up to me when I'm in Athens for football or baseball games and say, “Are you Mike Rebhan?” Then they’ll shake my hand and thank me. I get those moments at times. I think the Bulldog Nation – with the way we’ve started winning since 2000 – has no doubt recruited more fans for baseball.
I couldn’t have asked for more.
PWD: What do you think about the job Coach Perno is doing?
MR: I think Perno is doing a phenomenal job. When you look at the way he got the job, we asked 3-4 people. Finally with Ron Polk's suggestion, Vince Dooley gave him the shot.
Some people look back at the records and say "What's the deal with success only every other year?" I’m not going to say that every year success is impossible. But look around at the top teams. We’re one of the very few teams that have been to the College World Series three times in the past six years. Even Oregon State, who won twice in a row, didn’t make it back this year. It’s a tough job. It takes a ton of hard work and great recruiting to win in this conference, and I think he has done a phenomenal job.
I really hope that Damon Evans gives Perno what he needs to be successful.
PWD: So what you been up to since you left college?
MR: I've been with Symantec for 11 years through various acquisitions. I’m in the Data Storage division located in Heathrow, Fla. I'm doing great.
PWD: We’d like to thank Michael for his time. He was very gracious to help us out with the interview, and we wish him and his family the best.
You can find Part 1 here.
Georgia Sports Blog
(Note: If I botched the spelling of any 1990 team member names, that’s my fault. Not Mike’s.)