Cal Poly athletic director Don Oberhelman said Wednesday he expects to eventually see some current head coaches apply for the Mustangs men’s soccer team’s coaching vacancy.
“I’m going to be doing my homework throughout the year,” Oberhelman said. “I’m going to look at some programs, research some names. It’s inappropriate for me to be calling head coaches at other programs until their season is done.
“Out of respect for all of that, I’m just going to research, and once their seasons are over, I’m going to be ready to talk.”
In the meantime, interim head coach Phil Ruskin, who was entering just his second season as an assistant with Cal Poly when former head coach Paul Holocher abruptly resigned last month, has shown he can coach the team to success on the field.
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Heading into a week that will include a showdown with No. 1 UCLA (3-1-0) on Sunday, Ruskin has the Mustangs at 3-1-0 and averaging just under three goals per match, including a 1-0 victory over Massachusetts last Sunday.
Cal Poly finishes a three-game homestand with a 7 p.m. match today against visiting Grand Canyon at Alex G. Spanos Stadium. Then comes a 5:30 p.m. matchup at UCLA followed by a five-game home stand stretching into the start of the Big West Conference schedule.
The victory over Massachusetts was the Mustangs’ first shutout of the season and the first time they had been held under three goals in a match this year. Cal Poly was coming off a 4-1 win over Northern Illinois.
“The players are really buying into the tactical schemes,” Ruskin said. “We’re getting some good performances out of key guys, and most importantly, we’re sharing the ball, and I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot of balls going into the net.”
One of the breakout players has been senior midfielder Steve Palacios. Palacios appeared in 38 of 40 possible games the past two years, starting all but one as a junior, but he had yet to score a goal in his college career.
This season, he has two. The Mustangs will need all the goals they can get this week. Ruskin is expecting Grand Canyon to play a conservative and stingy game. The top-ranked Bruins are another story.
“They’re similar to the way we play,” Ruskin said. “UCLA will try to attack us. We’ll try to attack them. It’ll be a lot of fun.”
But Cal Poly won’t back down. The Mustangs played No. 18 Cal to a 1-1 draw in a preseason exhibition.
As for potentially keeping the job, all Ruskin can do is keep succeeding. Both he and Oberhelman are looking at this season as a three-month job interview.
“Clearly there’s going to be a lot of top assistants” applying for the job,” Oberhelman said. “It’s going to be somebody who’s recruited California. Somebody who’s got relationships with the clubs in California would be huge.
“I’ve told Phil many times, he’s in a perfect position to show what he can do with this program. He’s got a steep learning curve, but he’s doing a heck of a job.”
KSBY to broadcast more football games
Cal Poly and KSBY have re-teamed to bring Cal Poly football back to the airwaves.
In a sponsorship deal that was extended through the 2016-17 academic year, the local NBC affiliate and the university announced it will televise three games this season: An Oct. 11 road game at Weber State and home games against Montana (Oct. 25) and Montana State (Nov. 1).
The station is slated to broadcast feeds from the play-by-play teams of the Mustangs opponents for each game with the possibility of locally produced content before and/or after the game.
KSBY has produced its own broadcasts of both football and men’s basketball in recent years, and this renewal will extend the opportunity for future broadcasts.
Volleyball team is back at home
The past two seasons, the Cal Poly volleyball team had played just one nonconference home match before the start of Big West play.
This year, third-year head coach Sam Crosson made it a priority to get some matches in Mott Athletics Center early on for a team half made up of true freshmen.
“It’s always good to have a big home weekend for when student first get back because we can tie it into WOW week,” Crosson said
“And for us, in terms of having teams come to us, it’s a little bit different than having to travel and be on the road. You’re comfortable. We always knew we were going to have a really young team, so, I didn’t want to schedule four straight weekends of being on the road.”
Starting Friday and carrying through Saturday, the Mustangs (1-4) will host CSU Bakersfield, San Jose State and Sacramento State in succession in this weekend’s ShareSLO Invitational.
The following weekend, Cal Poly will co-host an invitational with rival UC Santa Barbara for a total of five pre-conference home matches before Big West play opens against the Gauchos in the Thunderdome on Sept. 27.