ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Tom Crean opened his first news conference at Georgia by talking for almost 27 minutes before fielding his first question. First impressions were clear: Georgia's new coach has a high-energy personality, and he's enthusiastic about his job.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Tom Crean opened his first news conference at Georgia by talking for almost 27 minutes before fielding his first question.
First impressions were clear: Georgia's new coach has a high-energy personality, and he's enthusiastic about his job.
Crean, named Thursday as Georgia's new coach, spoke Friday with passion and great length about his plans for building a championship contender at a school better known for its football success.
"The foundation is here," Crean said. "We've just got to build it up."
Crean, the former Indiana and Marquette coach, accepted the job without even visiting the Georgia campus.
Instead, a phone conversation with Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity on Wednesday, followed by a six-hour visit Thursday with McGarity and University of Georgia president Jere Morehead at Crean's home in Sarasota, Florida, sealed the agreement on both sides.
McGarity said Crean's enthusiasm in the six-hour meeting was similar to what he displayed at Friday's news conference.
"It was evident," McGarity said. "He was passionate about it. He had a lot of questions and we had questions. It was much like today."
Crean was hired only five days after Georgia fired Mark Fox, and one day after former Ohio State coach Thad Matta turned down an offer from McGarity.
"Thad called and said 'Greg I just can't do it. I'm not ready to get back in it,'" McGarity said. "I about fainted."
Instead of fainting, McGarity called Crean, whose interest was convincing.
"In his words, our position should be viewed as a gold mine destination," McGarity said of the Georgia job.
Crean, who will turn 52 on March 25, comes to Georgia with a six-year, $16 million contract. He was 356-231 in 18 seasons at Marquette and Indiana from 1999-2017.
Marquette, led by Dwyane Wade, advanced to the 2003 Final Four with Crean on the bench. Overall, Crean's teams have made nine NCAA appearances, including four Sweet 16s.
"He has consistently demonstrated the ability to lead highly successful, elite programs on and off the court," McGarity said. "And I have no doubt that under his leadership, the University of Georgia will experience new levels of success."
Postseason success has been rare at Georgia, which earned only two NCAA bids in Fox's nine years. Georgia won its only Southeastern Conference regular-season championship in 1990. The Bulldogs' only Final Four appearance came in 1983.
Crean said he sees Georgia "that can compete and play for national championships, can compete for conference championships, can compete for any championships."
He said he will build the team with a "foundation of enthusiasm and energy and determination."
Crean was 166-135 as Indiana's coach from 2008-17. After a 28-66 record in his first three seasons, Indiana was 138-69 in his final six years, including Big Ten championships in 2013 and 2016. He was fired after the 2016-17 season.
Speaking of that exit from Indiana, Crean said he has learned "when one door closes, another one can open. And 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."
Crean also reportedly had discussions with Pittsburgh about its coaching vacancy. Similarly, McGarity said he also had a phone interview with a third candidate he wouldn't name.
Crean seemed to be genuinely concerned when told his opening statement lasted so long.
"Did I bore you in the 27 minutes?" he asked. When told he hadn't been boring, Crean said, "At least I didn't lose you."
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