Despite my nerves heading to the Final Four, in my heart of hearts, I had really high aspirations. However, walking into the hotel lobby FULL of coaches was like walking into a Mike Tyson right-handed hook in the first minute of the fight (pre-tattooed face days of course). It didn’t knock me out, but it instantly put me in check and woke me up. Getting an interview and finding a job was going to be a lot tougher then I thought. There were young, and old, employed and unemployed, high school and AAU, and Division I to Division III coaches all looking for jobs. It didn’t matter if guys had a good job or not, it seemed everybody was trying to move. How in the world was I going to get noticed?
For starters, I rocked my University of Tennessee basketball shirts all weekend. As you would expect this got a lot of looks and questions. Comments such as “Why would you wear that, they just fired you?” or “You don’t work there anymore” were continuously thrown my way. Comments such as those were exactly what I was going for as the “Power T” broke the ice and enabled me to explain my story to potential employers and colleagues. I am darn proud of all that we accomplished at Tennessee and have nothing to be ashamed of during my tenure there.
I finally landed a couple of interviews on Friday after a lot of time networking on Thursday and with the huge help of some great references. Surprise, surprise, I was nervous but confident. Nervous because I need to find a job for my family but confident because I was just going to be me. The interviews really weren’t that difficult. Sure they asked some challenging questions but because I answered them with complete honesty based on my experiences and character, it was easy. I mean let’s face it, we’re talking about basketball not rocket science. I’m really excited about these potential opportunities and honestly couldn’t be happier with how the interviews went!
One thing that has become more apparent to me in the last few weeks has been the importance of family. My wife, our families and friends have been unbelievably supportive. Same needs to be said about my coaching family. Coach Forbes, Jones, Shay, Fancher, Jeter (my former Coach at UWM for 1 year), Dean Lockwood and even Coach Pearl at times have been great to me. Whether it was taking time out of their hectic schedules to make a phone call for me or give their advice, they have been so good to me and I am so thankful. After leaving my interviews, it seems as though my biggest competition are guys from the new head coaches “coaching tree.”
Coaches, for the most part, are very loyal guys. They really like to hire within their coaching family. Unfortunately, Coach Pearl doesn’t have the most extensive coaching tree out there so although this makes things a little tougher I’m positive that based on the references from those above and the things I stand for, my opportunity will come somewhere.
The big question for me is where will that somewhere be. Two short years ago, as a single guy I’d have gone anywhere for any amount of money. I just wanted to coach. But now, with a wife and a daughter, things have changed. It’s no longer me it’s we. I talked to a lot of different people this week. Some I admire because of what they stand for, some I don’t. Some people I talked to coach because like myself love the game and want to help kids improve and become men while others have a different, more self-serving agenda. As we’ve seen in the media lately, there is an awesome and an ugly side to collegiate athletics but that’s everywhere and in every kind of business right?
Coaching, the more I’m around it, the crazier it seems to get. For every amazing story of accomplishment there seems to be a horror story. For every perceived fluffy story such as Butler’s Brad Steven’s there’s a deeper behind-the-scenes story such as the one a veteran coach of 26 years told me this weekend. The story consisted of 26 years of high stress, 3 to 4 hours of sleep a night, moving place to place, cheating amongst colleagues, lost time and missed experiences with family members, lack of loyalty in the business, problems with players/parents, addiction to sleeping pills and the thought of never being good enough because there truly is only one team that ends the season happy and satisfied each year. This was from a head coach who had made it to the highest level of college basketball, won championships and cashed a big paycheck for many years. The recollection may have been the extreme negative side of coaching as things such as seeing your player’s graduate, become better men, winning games, calling coaching basketball a job and making positive differences in the community were left out but when you throw that crap in above, is it worth it?
I strongly believe that coaching doesn’t have to consist of all that negativity but honestly though, the more I think about it, you can’t hide from a lot of that stuff. I’m confident I will always be a Godly man, a family man and a man who tries to make a positive difference in those around me but do I really want to go through the next 30 years of my life dealing with ALL the coaching profession will throw at me? More importantly, do I want to put my family through it?
So although I knew I’d be sitting here taking this flight back to Knoxville today from the Final Four, mentally I’m actually in a completely different place. With my heart in coaching I thought I’d be sitting here thinking about different coaching job options but now, for the first time ever, despite my deep love for coaching, I’m thinking about different professions. This is normal right? I mean what if I don’t get a job offer in coaching? I have to evaluate everything don’t I? What would I do besides coach considering I don’t have any job offers in the “real world” either? I’m at a critical point in my life but I’m confident things will become clearer throughout the coming days through hours of praying, soul searching, talking and as job offers come or…don’t come.
Thanks for reading!