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UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 16, 2018
COACH CREAN: Thanks, Mike, and good afternoon. And thanks, everyone, for coming. Today we welcome Tom, Joani, Megan, Riley and Ainsley Crean to the University of Georgia family.
The sense of excitement since the announcement was made 18 hours ago has been phenomenal, locally and nationally. Tom's record speaks for itself. He has consistently demonstrated the ability to lead highly successful, elite programs on and off the court. And I have no doubt that under his leadership, the University of Georgia will experience new levels of success.
We spoke with Tom Wednesday afternoon about this opportunity and in his words, our position should be viewed as a gold mine destination. Tom's vision of the success we can experience as a program is inspiring. Tom's energy and passion about this opportunity to lead our young men is electric. And after President Morehead and I met with Tom and Joani, for over six hours yesterday at their home in Sarasota, it became crystal clear that Tom was the right person at the right time to lead our program.
Ladies and gentlemen, the head basketball coach of the University of Georgia, Tom Crean.
TOM CREAN: Thank you. So many thanks, but I've got to definitely start with President Morehead because it was a tremendous visit yesterday. I learned a lot, and along the way I learned a little bit more about Georgia basketball, but I learned so much inside of our visit. And certainly knowing of Greg, but not speaking with him until this past Wednesday, I've learned an awful lot in a short period of time.
The good news for me and all of these situations is I've always paid attention to Georgia. You can't be in this business of college sports, college basketball, and not have a really good view of what it's all about at this school. And I've competed against him; the only time I was in Athens was, that would have been 1990.
We walked out of here -- thanks to Hugh Durham at Western Kentucky, when we got back on the plane, we walked without with a 54-point loss, I believe, or maybe 56 but who's counting at that point. Went home, pulled a couple all-nighters to get our team and get our mindset right but later on had a chance to compete against Georgia while I was a head coach at Indiana. We were No. 1 in the country and we played them in the Barclays Center when they had Pope and the whole group and we had a great run there. We ended up beating Georgetown for the Championship.
But there's so many parallels of what has happened in this program, with what can happen in this program. And the bottom line, the foundation, okay, it all falls under the umbrella of tremendous excellence that's a part of this university. There's no doubt about it. Now, I don't even profess to have close to the knowledge that I hope to have on an hourly and daily and weekly and yearly basis of learning what it means to be here. But it is here. And I've paid attention from afar, and I've been -- I've been an admirer from afar, especially when you look at what's happened with the different sports teams because when you're in a sports family like I am, you're paying a lot more attention than just to basketball, and that is exactly what it's been.
So it is without question, an honor to stand here. It's an honor to bring our family to this family and with that, I would not be here, I would not be close to the person that I hope I'm trying to be every day if it wasn't for the absolute love of my life, Joani. And we're going on -- we've been married 25 years in May, and exactly a year ago today, on March 16, our world took a different turn because we were no longer coaching basketball as a head coach at the university level.
And one year later, with everything that we have gone through as a family, and what she has done to be the absolute rock, and center of everything that goes on with us, I cannot -- cannot thank her enough. I can't appreciate it any more than I do, and it's an absolute honor to be her husband and to be joined with her as we raise our three children. Megan, who is 22, and if there's one bittersweet part of today, and there's only one, it's that she's not with us today. She started her life and future in Los Angeles this past summer after graduating from Indiana. And as crazy as it is, we just dropped her off at the airport in Tampa to fly back to L.A., and an hour later, I spoke with Greg. And so but she's there, she's here in spirit, hopefully somewhere watching. I'm sure she's busy.
My son, Riley, is as good a friend as I could possibly have. He is 18. He has done such a great job of being a respected young man, a respected teammate, somebody that's there for his teammates, and he has certainly been there for his family and he is a sports lover. He is a baseball pitcher at IMG Academy. He'll be 19 in a few weeks, but I'm so proud of him.
And then our angel, Ainsley. Ainsley is 12, and she's found her passions in sports for lacrosse and volleyball.
But our passion is raising our children, and I could stand up here for hours and hours and hours and not even do close to what it is and I'm so privileged to be a part of that family, so privileged to be a part of Joani's family, with her mother and father, Jack and Jackie, with Jim and with John and certainly with my family back home, my mother, Marjorie, my sister, Michelle and Michan (ph) and my father, Tom, is back there, as well.
We have guests, people that we actually started together. As I was walking up, we were actually, my father-in-law -- not my father-in-law yet. I didn't even know him. I just knew he was the coach with a great scowl, Jack Harbaugh, but Doug Mallory who coaches with the Falcons and his wife Lisa, we were all together at the very beginning going back to 1990, back at Western Kentucky. So they joined us coming from Atlanta.
But inside of this year that we have, that God's plan took a different path, and when you don't understand it at first and you're not willing to accept it, you do know this: That you could never let anything or anyone or any situation or any circumstance ever do anything to take your spirit, to create any doubt, to take any confidence, and to ever get you off the path of helping other people get better and over this past year, I have been absolutely privileged beyond what I could have ever imagined, with the friendships, the acquaintances I've met, the places that I've gone, the people that welcomed me in, and certainly with what I had the opportunity to do at ESPN, I could not have been any more fortunate, and that's not coach speak. It's not hyperbole. It's people that have looked after us, helped us grow, and we thank them so much.
And before I get into Georgia, I have got to thank the 18 years and the other nine years, and the four years before that, of being a college coach and the players, the way they have reached out to us.
And I say that because I want our family, not only the Crean family, but I want our basketball family to come in here and experience what we are going to experience with this Georgia family, and with the Georgia student-athletes and with the current Georgia basketball players and the future Georgia basketball players because they are as much me and as I am them and vice versa because the ideals and the standards of the program, they start with a level of humility, and it goes all the way back to my first team at Marquette to my last team at Indiana, and the values that were instilled in me as a young coach, as a person growing up, the same values that were instilled in Joani, we have tried to instill into every person that has come through our grasp as far as player, as far as staff, and that is to hold people responsible and accountable for the greatness that is inside of them.
When they don't see it, when they don't feel it, when they don't know it, we're still going to do everything we can do to hold them accountable. Doesn't mean that you don't have mistakes. Doesn't mean that you don't make mistakes. Doesn't mean that you don't wish you had some do overs. Doesn't mean that everything worked out beautifully, but it does mean that every day we try to put our best foot forward to help people put their best foot forward.
And it is going to be an absolute honor and a privilege to join Greg and this entire athletic department, to join President Morehead and the entire university and to join every alum in continuing to build this program into what it can continue to become and that is one of the most outstanding, energetic, driven basketball programs in the country that can compete and play for national championships, that can play for conference championships, that can play for any championship that's put in front of them by working towards it on a daily basis, and that is absolutely what we're looking for.
Because the other thing we've learned through all of this is that when one door closes, another one can open. And this door opened and it opened at a time, certainly, when there were -- there were some other doors, but at the end of the day, this door was in a class by itself because of what is capable here, what can be done here, what has been done in the past.
And you start to think about the passion, the energy, the way people feel about a school like this, and I cannot wait, I cannot wait for us to join that and learn that from everybody else. And it's been only a couple of hours on this campus and in this city but we've already met a few, and it's -- it's been outstanding. We always wanted to be in a place where we could surround ourselves with people that had passion, that had drive, that were competitive and that wanted to see other people better, and that's exactly what we feel we've walked into right now.
I grew up in Michigan, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, went to school at Central Michigan University and got a chance to start coaching at my old high school right after I graduated. And coaching at Alma College, a Division III school. Never got into it for the money because at that point it was $700 over three years. Could not have done it without the love and care and guidance of my mother, allowing me to chase my dream.
I was surrounded by people back then, like Ralph Pim, Danny Kiper, Ted McIntyre, which parlayed into dealing with people like Jud Heathcote at Michigan State, with Ralph Willard at Western Kentucky and for a year at Pittsburgh, with Tom Izzo for not just the four years that I was with him but for every day, every day, ever since. And you get into an environment where you get with people that they give to you, and they pour into you the way that you need it and the way that you want to pour back into them, that is the greatest energy that you can find and try to lead a group of student-athletes on a 24/7, day-by-day, week-by-week basis to help them become all that they can be and then some.
And that is what everybody has done for me and I've had that opportunity to be a part of some great programs. I've been in part of some rebuilds and I've been a part of one that you wouldn't even want to quantify it as a rebuild because it's unlike anything I had ever seen. And we could have never turned it to Indiana without the determination, the support and the guidance from so many people without that passion of the people to go inside and help us continue to recover and program and flourish inside of it.
Those are the same values and ideals that we will bring here. The things that I've learned from every coach, from every leader, the things I've had a chance to work with from the players, from Dwyane Wade to Cody Zeller who is playing in Charlotte. The list goes on and on, to people you've never heard of that I'm just as proud of because they are great fathers, great husbands, they are learning to be great parents. And they can persevere through adversity in their life whether it's professional, whether it's health.
Those are all the things that make us what we are and that is as much part of the system and the style and the fabric that we will bring into this University of Georgia program as anything we'll do on the court because that is what will set the mark, that is what will set the tone, that there will not be a situation where we will ever have or accept people that will not put their very best, okay, not only on the court but in the classroom.
We graduated every senior that we ever had that used their eligibility at Marquette. And when I left, the sophomores -- the rising juniors, rising seniors were on track to graduate and they all did. We graduated every senior that used their eligibility at Indiana. We graduated eight young men in three years, including Victor Oladipo, who came with one scholarship offer and a 3.0 GPA and left three years later as the second pick in the draft with a 3.2 GPA and a degree in sports broadcasting.
It all matters and I can't wait, whether it's Sunday night, Monday morning, whenever I get a chance to get in front of my new team and this great program and start trying to help them continue to build on what their dreams are, continue to build on where they want to go because there will be balance. We will work for completeness, we will work to have a group of people that understand how -- just how valuable it continues to be to put your very best foot forward academically, to do your very best and understand the standard that you have got to uphold, not only on this campus, not only in this community, not only in this state but throughout the country because I'm used to being around teams that -- that they -- they didn't understand the glare of the spotlight that was on them. They didn't understand how many eyes were upon them. And I didn't want those eyes -- and I know we've had a few that didn't always understand that, but I didn't want those eyes to look back at them and not be proud of the way they carried themselves, the way they treated other people and the way they worked and competed to represent the universities that we were at. And the University of Georgia will be no different whatsoever.
And as we come into this environment, we come in knowing that we're coming into a world-class university. And I've been privileged to work at some great places, all right. This is a world-class university that is world-known for what they do, for what they are about. Sports are a huge part of it, but there are so many other great things, okay, that you learn over a period of time when you run into Georgia alums. And I never traveled more over the last three months than I did even in coaching doing my TV position. So I met a lot of people, Georgia people included, and there's a passion and a pride that I'm very much looking forward to being a part of.
I know we have a ton of alums out there that, I don't want to say live and breathe this program but they know when the Georgia sports are playing. They know when the games are. They know what's going on in this campus. They know who is coaching. They know who is playing. They know who is being recruited. I look forward to being a part of that.
When I turn on a football game and see what's going on on game days here or when you see that the cameras pan around and show the crowd or you see the tailgate areas, that is the exact same type of attitude, the exact same type of energy that we are going to have vision, starting with me, to have come every time we play. Every time. And I hope one of the first thing we can do is build a Midnight Madness, Georgia Madness, whatever we're going to call it, type of situation, hopefully something that will work to get the fans come in and get inside of this.
I know it's not going to happen overnight but I promise you there will not be a day goes by that we will not be trying to continue to build on the energy of what can happen here, build on what has already happened here, and continue to move it forward to what will happen here.
And I pause to say this: I've known Mark Fox for a long time, going back to when he was an assistant, certainly when he was a head coach at Nevada, coach at Georgia. I'll never forget, one morning we had a mutual friend, a man that had worked for me and I got the text from him, 5:30, 6:00 in the morning letting me know this man had passed away. He was a mutual friend and we knew his brother and he was close with his brother.
My respect for Mark Fox, even though I have not talked to him yet, my respect for Mark Fox has always been high and that's not going to change.
As we continued to build this program and as we continue to move forward, I hope there's plenty of opportunities to credit him for bringing fine people in here, fine young men, fine student-athletes, people that represented Georgia, okay, this university, this state, okay, this alumni base, the right way. I met Juwan walking in. I had a chance to coach against him before. That's what I hope. That will be my plan because everything that I have seen from watching this team this year, from the things I've heard from looking at the facilities, this program was run with integrity, it was run with great standards, okay, and it was run with a discipline. And I fully expect and continue to move forward and build this in the eyes of what people expect it to be.
As we move into the basketball side, we have had teams, my former media relations director told me that over a nine-year period, including our first three years which I love to not have but we had them, the first three years when we were building that program completely, we want to be great at spacing, technique, details, using not only the entire 94 feet to run but using the space in the half court to create and be as conceptual and concept-based as a basketball team as we can be.
When I first started out, we ran a lot of plays. As we got better players, we started to understand the concepts and cerebral play making, guys that can make plays for another, guys that can read the ball, play off their man, know when to cut, know when to lift, all those type of things to working to get to that place. There is a great place for more pressure defense, especially three-quarter pressure. We've played it, we've mixed it, we've certainly changed defenses over the years but I don't think there's any reason you can't do more with three-quarter pressure, bringing more, especially with the length that I think is inside of here.
To become a team that talks on offense, talks on defense, talks through success, talks through adversity because they have a belief in one another. And I'm starting at base zero with a group of guys that have been together as we continue to come in and figure out how to do that, and as we continue to do that and we start those workouts and we start this process, they will see from me every day that they are going to have to match my energy and the staff's energy, and we'll hold them to it because that's the only way that it can get done. We'll try to teach them and bring detail, technique, thing that will make them better individually, that will make them better in a small group action and make them better as a team every day, and help them to understand that there is no -- there can be no weak points in your career or in your life.
And put the people around them, okay, off the floor, on the floor, that can truly help them see that and that can build towards that. And when it comes to players, are we going to build multi-dimensional, versatile, multiple position. I look at Claxton and I say, this is the epitome of a young player who comes into college because most people when they come into college, they are not ready for the multi-dimensional. But I look at him and watch him play throughout the year and I say, that is the living proof of somebody that can be versatile and multi-dimensional on both ends, and we can go right on down the line. I don't want to name every player but I use that as an example because of the size, because of the size.
For us, our guards needed to be able to post, finish, defend inside; our big men needed to be able to shoot threes, be able to handle the fall and be able to handle the pick-and-roll. Ask Cody Zeller. And when we've had our best teams, whether it's 13, 12 weeks, whatever it was at No. 1, back at Indiana, whether it's going to the Final Four at Marquette, whether it's being picked to finish 12th our first year in the Big East, back at Marquette in 2006, playing UCONN in the first Big East game of the year, they're No. 2 in the country undefeated and having them down by 24 with five minutes to go. Versatility, competitiveness, and players that will absolutely be committed to making each other better has been the recipe for success. And if those things are there, then you have a chance to continue to grow and move forward and take it to another place.
In closing, before I turn it over to questions, I hope that everybody will see three things every day, okay, from this program starting with me, and the rest of it will go from there. Number one, there's going to be an energy. There's going to be an energy. There's going to be a foundation of enthusiasm, energy and intensity, demands, details, but it is going to be done based on what can you do and how can we get you better at this or that, versus he can't do this, he won't do that. We don't coach in can'ts and won'ts, okay.
Now the game is not the place to work on your weaknesses, okay, but practice is, and individual workouts are, and the game is the place to play to your strengths and our job as coaches is to continue to develop as many possible strengths in the players and in the staff as we possibly can. So that energy is going to permeate and I hope that that energy is also coming from the outside. And when I mean outside, I mean, outside the gym walls, people throughout the school and the community and throughout the Atlanta area and throughout the state of Georgia, throughout the southeast region, throughout the company and throughout the world; that they have an energy, that they are excited about what we're doing and what we're building on that court to go along with the other great things that are happening at that university and what's happening in sports. And that energy is going to be at the forefront.
Number two, we are going to have that player development mindset and it's not just about extending our left hand being able to drive it with our right. That player development mindset is making sure that when you meet them and you see them and when their parents get them back or their grandmother or their grandfather gets them back that they see a maturity that's going; that they see an eye contact that's coming; that they see that presence that's there, not an arrogance, not an entitlement, not an enablement, okay, but a commitment to an excellence of their life, okay. A maturity that says we want to be around that person, okay; an ability to help, a want-to to want to help, a kindness, all right. Somebody that shakes your hand, looks you in the eye and even if they are shy and they are not used to it that they get used to it.
Because every player that will play for Georgia just like all the greats, all the teams that have them before, they are a walking resumÃ© for their future and for their life. Every time they walk this campus, every time they put that Georgia uniform on. And it's not just when they put that uniform on and it's not just when ESPN is here and it's not just when Kentucky is here. It is every day.
And to help them get that is going to be the mission and the player development of helping them get their individual skills to fit into a team concept so that they can move on, like so many of our former players have, and the joy and the successes of that -- doesn't matter if it was McDonald's All-American or Dwyane Wade with three scholarship offers. If you've got the chip on your shoulder and determination to succeed, you can and we will do everything we can to help you do it, and that is so big in what we do.
And the last thing is -- and this is an all-encompassing statement but there is no doubt we've got to recruit. We have got to recruit. We have got to find a group of people that are going to commit to the G. I saw that long before today. I did my first TV game in Northwestern-Georgia Tech, I've been in Atlanta enough over the last year, I've seen that billboard and it's cool. And I have to make sure I get a t-shirt that has it or a long sleeve shirt that has it because it's more about just getting the high schools and AU programs and those players. We have to go in there.
And I hope that everyone will understand as they go down this line they are going to have accessibility to what they are building and there's going to be a validation in what they're doing. If you're working with young people and trying to help players be better -- if you're trying to coach and teach, we want to do everything we can do help them. There might be a drill or idea here or a game, I don't know what it's going to be but it's going to be there and we are going to put ourselves in that situation because -- because this state is so good and there are so many good coaches. Whether it's high school over here or AU over there -- no. There are very, very good coaches, very good programs, and our job is to treat them with that respect and hope that we get it back and if we show them what what we are trying to do -- and the same things that can happen for the kids in this program, the kids in that state and the kids that we can recruit.
And the same thing that happened with those guys that really worked and got their degrees and right now contracted NBA money -- what they are contracted for is 523 million. I plenty expect we will add on to that at the University of Georgia and some are probably in this program right now. But we are going to help them.
I always wanted players that wanted to be far more successful than what they just were on this court and could the move on. And that's exactly what this world needs. That's what Georgia's going to provide. I want the day to come when the people on the outside, they want to hire them in their law firm, in their business, to speak; they want them, okay, to speak to that school. They want them at that Boys and Girls Club. They want them to represent that company, they want to sign them for something overseas, they want them around, not because we acted entitled and -abled or we had it coming to us, but because we absolutely went out there and earned it.
I hope, as we move forward, you allow me to do that because I've learned more in the last -- well, two days -- but I've learned more in the last couple of hours, and my head is going to need a break at some point tonight. But start up again early in the morning. But we're going to keep learning and learning and we're going to learn about the alums and business owners and the educations and the rankings of all the different schools and all the great faculty that's here. And we're going to learn about all the great people inside of academics and all the different areas. And we're going to learn it and embrace it and we're going to be excited about it.
And I hope we're going to make you proud that we're going to be one of you because that is what the Crean family and everybody that I bring in here is expecting to be, one of you, we want to be part of this. Great to be here. Thank you.
Q. Wanted to ask, it's been 28 years since you've been to Athens?
TOM CREAN: Who's counting?
Q. Obviously you didn't come here during the negotiation process, during the courting process. What was it about Georgia that made you want to take this job without touring the facilities?
TOM CREAN: First off, Wednesday, it was offered to be able to do that. We both talked about it, Joani had talked about it and she had spent her time looking at what she needed to look at, which is area, schools, houses, calling friends, and -- and researching it, like we've done on some others, right. We had to make sure we're doing our due diligence and the things that we do but I didn't need to. We didn't need to do that because we didn't need to be here.
We're here now because, first off, in the ages of social media and video, you can see so many things. As long as she's happy with the house, I'm going to be happy. I don't want to be too far away.
When you look at these facilities, the screens are in the video, it's fantastic. I remember getting ready for Mark's team when we're playing in the Barclays. They had had a regular season game and an exhibition. And the camera, the TV, it was a little dark so it wasn't like you could see the whole arena but I thought you could hear it. And I thought it was impressive. I had no idea how many people were in here, didn't matter to me. But you could hear it.
I love the floor. I love the videos. I've watched enough on television over the years that -- and especially this, we moved -- I mean, we picked up this year and we've got to sell our house in Bloomington yet, but we moved so Sarasota because we wanted to have a home base and allow our son to go to IMG and do something different. So we moved and we pretty much went there after only being in Sarasota a couple different times and that's worked out great. We had absolutely no doubts about coming in here, and I don't think we're going to have -- I think we're going to learn a lot.
I think it's going to be fun and I think we are without question excited about making our home base and I can't tell you what county or town they are going to live or where they are going to go to school. We'll figure it out but it's going to be a lot of fun figuring it out.
Q. Have you made decisions yet regarding staff?
TOM CREAN: In my situation, I knew the job was open since Saturday, but there are other jobs open and there are other jobs that were situations where there's contact and different geographic areas. So for me, because the most important thing to me outside of getting our family situated was to make sure I got my staff situated from last year. We didn't bat a thousand, but we were close. The most important thing was to get them.
I have to think about that a little bit. There have certainly been people that have reached out. It's happened so quick. And I have definitely watched film, and the most important thing is going to be getting with them, getting on the court with them. It's not about putting style in right away but starting to get some assessment there. But I know that's going to be huge, and that's going to be very important, and I definitely have names in mind.
I think it's going to be different for me because a year ago, I had three former head coaches on my staff. I had been with those guys for sometime. It won't be what I've had in the past, there's going to be some changes but there also could be some changes that are part of it. But over the next few days that's going to be a huge priority for me.
Q. You mentioned you had admired Georgia from afar.
TOM CREAN: Vern Fleming was one of my first favorite players. Never met him but one of my first favorites.
Q. Your friend, Dick Vitale yesterday, he said Georgia is a sleeping giant in basketball. What is it about this program that causes you to believe those sort of things about Georgia?
TOM CREAN: Well, so much. You know, we'll start with this: The SEC. It's so powerful. And in the last few hours, less than 24 hours, I've heard from Greg Sankey, heard from Mike Tranghese, which was our commissioner in the Big East, Dan Lebowitz, who I have tremendous respect for. And I'm sure there are others, I'm way behind on messages on my phone, there might be more.
The power in this conference, and the way they have tried to make this something that has a real strong basketball footprint, I think in the national landscape and after spending this year in big -- in ESPN, even though I don't call many SEC games, I have a real feel for how powerful this is on a national level. For me, not coming here and seeing those facilities online before ever walking in here, as good as the videos are and the pictures are and as Tim is, it doesn't do justice to what you do when you walk out there.
And knowing this area and talent and competing against it and knowing what's in the Atlanta area, knowing that this is a national school, right, international, right. So there's really no place you can't go, but there is no doubt that you want to start, all right, with giving opportunities and looking at how do you keep the best people here. And it's a two-way street. Keeping the best people home is a two-way street. We want to sign so and so, this guy, that guy. We have to keep giving them reasons to want to go and the right fit.
But I think there's so much opportunity for that in such a close proximity that you can do that, and you can't be in this business and not -- and go through what you know about your own school, right, and whether it be market, certainly, Indiana, and not know what other schools have because part of the recruiting process is not only what you have in basketball but as a university. So when you're going and seeing that, it's very, very important. It was us and Georgia for Giante (ph) Michigan State got in late, might have been somebody else in there, had him on a visit and knew what he wanted, Georgia had it, and that to me, that says something, too.
So the list goes on but most importantly what's not here, what's not here, and it's going to be fun. It's going to be fun proving ourselves right on that.
Q. Is 27 minutes the average length of your opening statements before a press conference?
TOM CREAN: It better not be. It better not be. It was at some point but I had a lot to say. It would be a bad thing on deadline. What would be a good number because I have some issues with that.
Q. Two and a half minutes maybe.
TOM CREAN: I have to get all that done in two and a half minutes? What would be a good time to get in here after the game? I would go talk to my team and do the radio show.
Q. I'll let you talk to the beat guys about that.
TOM CREAN: All right. Did I bore you inside the 27 minutes?
Q. I was ready to run through a wall --
TOM CREAN: Concentration span for all of us average humans is eight seconds. Proven study. I wasn't worried about that today, though.
Q. The other question is during your off-year, I saw where you went on an Infoseeking tour, how do you think that will make you a better coach moving forward?
TOM CREAN: Oh, so much. Let me give you this before it ever got in there, right after this happened to us, a year ago, within five days, I had heard from eight or nine of my first team at market of the first 12 guys and I had not coached those guys in 18 years.
You realize, the most important part is those relationships you build. There are kids I had not seen in years and they were reaching out because when you build something and when you're together on something, it really doesn't leave you if you -- if you try to maintain it and it was real, so that part of it, and what I was able to see, is I went through different places, was that real as other levels, too. I know it's business in pro sports.
I know people come and go, but excellence is absolutely something that -- that has got to be from top to bottom, so examples: Being in a coaches meeting or draft meeting, there were no weak links in those meetings. Nobody was coming in unprepared.
It didn't matter if you were the assistant quality control coach or assistant strength coach; if you were in there and you were in that meeting, you were listened to, you were respected and you -- and nobody wanted to filter what you had to say and I think I can do an even better job of training the entire staff in that operation of preparation for what everybody needs, and at the same time, having some -- your older coaches, because the younger coaches, the graduate managers, was a lifeline for us and our program, so helping them.
I think I learned even more detail and what detail and level of detail goes into the great player and how the great player has got a mindset, a killer instinct, so to speak; that they want to continue to compete at that level and they expect everybody that can do something about it to do the same thing, and the great ones are not afraid to bring that out and it's okay to be demanding; that some of the greatest, highliest-paid athletes that I've come across in the world, when it's in the meeting room of a training camp or when it's behind the scenes in an early morning work out, it is all about getting better, and I think that's some of it.
But I've learned -- I started to learn this even more but I think I've learned this more than ever now: You can control what you can control, you can control sometimes what you think but you don't have to control everything and keep helping people see what you see but also see what they see, and I think that's been some of the biggest stuff but bottom line, it's not an accident why programs, great programs win.
And I think one thing I really took from ESPN, because there's a thing, a place that's going through a difference. We had a big major meeting there, I think it was in November and John Skipper spoke at it. It was unbelievable. He might not have talked 27 minutes, but I could remember all of it. Like it was strong, and five days later he had resigned, he had retired. You had a company that now didn't have their main leader there, but he must have done such a good job with the people he brought in there, didn't matter if it was a small group or different production team or a game, those people were on top of it, top to bottom.
And I think that's the thing, to me, top to bottom no matter what, you're trying to help each other succeed and your ego better be team centered as much as it is anything else because the other way stands out like a sore thumb in the greatest organizations.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports