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PROVIDENCE â€” Itâ€™s a whole new ballgame for T.J. Sorrentine, one that holds the potential of yielding big dividends down the road.
As of this moment Sorrentine is the interim coach at Brown University, the new title bestowed upon the Pawtucket native after the school dismissed head coach Jesse Agel on Monday. Sorrentine was informed of his reclassification during a meeting with outgoing athletic director Mike Goldberger after learning earlier in the day that Agel would not be retained.
â€śGoing into that meeting, I didnâ€™t know what to expect,â€ť Sorrentine said when reached Monday night.
In short, Sorrentineâ€™s face-to-face with Goldberger, who is retiring in June, was productive in the sense that Brown is giving him a vote of confidence to lead the program â€“ at least in the short term.
â€śWhen (Goldberger) told me that he wanted to make me the interim head coach, I was surprised to say the least,â€ť said Sorrentine. â€śHe asked and I gladly accepted. Personally it was some good news on a sad day.â€ť
Asked to clarify the â€śinterimâ€ť portion of his job description, Sorrentine noted, â€śWith the situation regarding the athletic director, (Goldberger) wants me to stay on and coach this team. That was evident by him making me the interim head coach. Normally in a situation like this, you never see a head coach let go and an interim named. Usually they have a guy overseeing the program.
â€ś(Goldberger) wants to see me carry on through and told me to operate as the head coach,â€ť Sorrentine added. â€śHopefully I can do this job and continue what Iâ€™ve been doing and try to lead this program.â€ť
Sorrentineâ€™s first priority comes in the form of keeping things around the Brown program as close to business as usual. That means hitting the road to recruit and making sure that the players already in the fold are toeing the line. The St. Raphael Aca-demy alumnus wonâ€™t be the lone voice as Sorrentine noted that assistants Ryan Schnei-der and Kenyon Spears plan on sticking around.
The Bears finished 8-23 overall and 2-12 in the Ivy League this season. In his four seasons at the helm, Agelâ€™s team finished 39-79 and 14-42 in the Ivies. Agel took over at Brown in 2008 after Craig Robinson departed for the head coaching position at Oregon State. He was an assistant under Robinson at Brown for two seasons following a 17-year coaching stint at Vermont.
It was at Vermont where Agel first crossed paths with Sorrentine, a star player for the Catamounts from 2000-05. Agel also deserves credit for helping Sorrentine break into the coaching profession in 2008 with the 2011-12 season serving as Sorrentineâ€™s first as associate head coach for the Bears.
â€śJesse gave me this opportunity so I owe him a ton. He got me in the business,â€ť Sorrentine said. â€śYou never want to see anybody lose their job which is why I felt horrible. I have nothing but love for him and his family.â€ť
What Sorrentine has going for him in his quest to become the Bearsâ€™ full-time head coach is the talent thatâ€™s already in place, talent that he had a significant hand in luring to College Hill. The 2012-13 Brown squad should be appreciably better compared to this seasonâ€™s team, which suffered due to eligibility issues surrounding Rafael Maia of Brazil along with junior Tyler Halpern sitting out because of mononucleosis. Halpern and Maia would join holdovers Sean McGonagill and Matt Sullivan to form a group that holds the potential of making a significant jump in the standings come next season.
It goes without saying that Sorrentine is ready to tackle the challenge awaiting him head-on.
â€śObviously the new A.D. is going to have some say, whenever they hire him. Until then all I can do is put my best foot forward,â€ť Sorrentine said. â€śI talked to [former Vermont head coach] Tom Brennan Monday. He told me to be happy whether youâ€™re the head coach for 10 minutes or 10 years. Thatâ€™s how I feel because Iâ€™m grateful for the opportunity.
â€śHopefully I can stick and show that Iâ€™m the right man for this job. This a great opportunity for me to put my best foot forward,â€ť Sorrentine continued. â€śIâ€™m going to operate under the assumption that Iâ€™m going to be here and represent the university in the best way I can.â€ť