Candid and optimistic, Pensky takes over as FSU’s soccer coach

Just minutes into his introductory press conference, one character trait is readily apparent with Brian Pensky: He is very candid. Pensky spoke with respect of former FSU coach Mark Krikorian, who won three national titles in 17 seasons, as well as his players at Tennessee, the staff and his coaching mentors. Here are some highlights of what Pensky said and you can watch his opening remarks in the video below.

Pensky has followed FSU soccer and Mark Krikorian for years. This is a different situation for Pensky, who has rebuilt programs like Maryland and Tennessee.

Pensky said tactically his style is to “keep the ball and make teams chase us. I like to attack but I also I love the tactics of defending and putting together a structure that can prevent teams from doing the things that they like to do.”

His Tennessee teams won back-to-back SEC Titles and the 2021 SEC championship. But Pensky, who also coached in the ACC with Maryland, sheepishly apologized to Tennessee and his players who may be watching a live stream when he called ACC soccer the best in the nation.

He readily admitted that a number of FSU’s players have entered the transfer portal ahead of an NCAA-mandated May 1 deadline. But Pensky stated many have done it with a “red triangle,” which he said means they can’t be contacted.

Pensky acknowledged that he understands the emotions of the players and has empathy — they were recruited by and coached by Krikorian. But he also stated in team meetings and one-on-ones with current players (both in person and via Zoom) that “I tried to recruit you.” It was clear he was making a statement to them that he knew them years ago as U.S. high school or International prospects. “I want them to be here,” Pensky said. He said he has been very transparent with players and remarked “I get it” when discussing why players may have gone in the portal.

He fully intends to recruit internationally. Pensky also knows he must recruit across the U.S. “We’re gonna scour this country for the best players in this country. There are a lot of really good players in this country.”

Pensky said he would like to retain assistant coaches Mike Bristol and Morinao Imaizumi. He also understands if they pursue other opportunities. “I don’t know that they saw it coming either,” Pensky said. “Their worlds were turned upside down as well. Mike and Ima are phenomenal coaches. I’ve always known from the outside that they have had a big part in the success here. The more time that I’ve spent with them the more evident it is what a big role each of those guys have played in the success of Florida State over the years. Hopefully the three of us can move forward together.”

FSU’s stature as a top-20 public college was a selling point to Pensky. “That additional thing that really excited me about this place is the academic piece and the fact that in the last six years it’s gone from mid 40s to a top 20 academic institution,” Pensky said. “That’s a really big deal.”

Pensky watched an FSU game last fall. He joked about the scoreboard. “I remember that from 2001,” Pensky said. “That thing’s gotta go. Thankfully it’s gone. And a new video board is going up and these kids will get to see themselves on a video board the way they deserve to see themselves.”

While Pensky’s contract has not been released to the media, FSU athletics director Michael Alford confirmed to the Osceola that it is a five-year contract.

FSU coaches like Mike Norvell, Brooke Wyckoff, Trey Jones, Amy Bond and John Proctor were in attendance to welcome Pensky. Members of the soccer team’s coaches club were also watching from the auditorium inside the Moore Athletic Center.