It is no secret in the world of college sports that some fans take to social media thinking their favorite program would be better off if they were in charge. Tanner Allen, former Mississippi State University baseball player and member of the 2021 championship team, shared his thoughts about this as well as just how much hard work goes into both pre-season practice and game time.
"They don't understand," Allen said in an interview with The Reflector. "They just see the finished product on the field. They don't know what goes on behind the scenes."
Allen had a strong playing career at MSU, earning multiple awards and holding a couple impressive records. He shared about the early mornings, long afternoons and late nights on the field and in the weight room.
During the off-season, training takes up most of their days. Workouts start at 6 a.m., so Allen's day started just after 5 a.m. in order to make time to arrive early and warm up. After about an hour of work and breakfast at the field, it's time for classes.
"Coach Lemonis is so strict on class," Allen said. "You're gonna get checked. He has class checkers making sure you're going to class."
After classes wrap up for the day around 1 p.m., it's back to the field for early work, or as Allen called it, "practice before practice." The full day of training concludes around 6 p.m., when the guys go home to rest and get assignments done before starting it all over again the next morning.
John Cohen, current MSU director of athletics and former Bulldog head baseball coach, shared great insight on the time commitments of both coaches and players.
"If you do just what the coach is asking you to do, and you only practice and you only play in games, you just can't create greatness," Cohen shared. "There's that old saying that says, 'Greatness is achieved when nobody is watching' … You have to have people who are willing to do things on their own, and I think that's why we've had so much success here in baseball."
With each passing day, the anticipated greatness of the upcoming baseball season inches closer and closer. Head coach Chris Lemonis shared in a media session at the beginning of February his goal for this season in comparison to last year's goals.
"I think it's the same goal: try to do something that we haven't done before," Lemonis said.
When the season starts, Allen shared that the routine slows down a little bit as all of their hard work pays off in game time, playing four to five times a week.
During the season, the players' weekdays, with the exception of their Monday as a break day, start off with class and then move right into early work and practice with a workout afterwards. This would be the routine for a Tuesday or Wednesday with the exception of a midweek game taking place.
Game days typically run Thursday through Sunday— Allen's favorite days as a player.
Depending on class schedules, you either have the morning of a weekday game day for classes, resting or getting to the field early.
His senior year, Allen had a flexible class schedule and would get to the field around noon and walk around the field, talking with the groundskeepers and getting quick workouts in before the rest of the team trickled onto the field.
The days are long for a Diamond Dawg, and head coach Lemonis recognizes this. Allen said Lemonis knows how much work they have to do and that they are students first. Lemonis, according to Allen, also wants the guys to be able to enjoy the college experience while being smart about it and using their time wisely.
Twitter has been both a hurdle and encouragement for Allen during this past season. He spoke about seeing hateful posts about how the players just goof off and don't put their all into the work.
The former Diamond Dawg spoke passionately about how hard they work as a team, and the time together off the field when they go out from time to time. As fans see players going out to bars or late nights together, Allen says they don't see how that is most likely the only time they have off, and they take that time to have fun as a team, bonding off the field.
"Whenever we screw up, it's always, 'All they do is go out and have fun,'" Allen said. "People don't realize we're not in the military or something. We have fun."
Allen is currently in training camp for the Miami Marlins through February, but is looking forward to the break before his spring training starts when he can "watch the Bulldogs from the other side of the fence."