Mark Turgeon Press Conference TranscriptFor Immediate Release
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
COLLEGE STATION, Texas- A transcript of Tuesday's press conference introducing Mark Turgeon as Texas A&M's new head men's basketball coach is posted below. A complete audio file in MP3 format is linked in the box to the right.
Texas A&M Press Conference
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Reed Arena, College Station, Texas
TEXAS A&M INTERIM PRESIDENT DR. ED DAVIS: "I think it's fair to ask the question; what do you look for in a coach? Obviously we get a lot of advice about that even from some of you in the press corps. I think Bill Byrne is the expert in selecting coaches, he has proven that. As I assess coaches, we are looking for things at Texas A&M beyond just the wins and the losses.
"Today I received an e-mail today quoting a fan at Wichita State. I want to say a few things that it says in that e-mail. 'What qualities does Mark Turgeon bring? What qualities does he not bring would be the more appropriate question? He has played the game at the highest levels in college, and played it well. He has learned from the greatest coaches in America. He knows what talent is. He has scouted for the NBA, he will have no problem recruiting at Texas A&M. He is squeaky clean but possesses the class of a giant. He will never embarrass the program or the university. He has a great family and is fiercely loyal. He will outwork anyone. He has proven he can win at anything he does. He can build, he can rebuild, he can win a conference, he can win in the dance. Oh yeah, he is still a better person than a coach. If I could give him a blank check to keep him I would. He wouldn't accept it, it is not about the money, it is about the challenge to win at the highest level. I would say that's pretty high praise coming from an unhappy fan.'
"I met Mark yesterday for the first time. I consider myself to be a pretty good judge of character on first impressions. He gave me some great answers first of all when I asked "What qualities do you look for in a basketball player?" His answer was first and foremost, character, and oh by the way, they have to be able to shoot. Then I asked him "What is your commitment to the academic goals of student athletes?" He answered that question by telling me that the graduation rate at Wichita State was 90 percent. That is laudable in college basketball today. I am very impressed with Mark. I think he bring the class, character, loyalty and integrity and the core values that represent Texas A&M. We are proud to have him here."
DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS BILL BYRNE: "You know, when we lost Billy (Gillispie) last week, I was really disappointed because we had worked so hard and he had worked so hard to take us to places that we had never been at Texas A&M. When he left our goal was to get somebody to lead us there and take us beyond that. That's when we started looking at Mark. I keep a list of coaches, I study coaches. I was lucky with Mark. I got to know him in 1990 in Eugene, Oregon when he was an assistant coach. I got to sneak behind benches and watch coaches and see how they interact with players. Heck I got to do that everyday in practice. I got to know what a fine, fine young man he was and how great of a coach he was. But the thing that struck me was his heritage. When you think about coaching tress and you think about Dean Smith and you think about Larry Brown and you think about the current head coach Roy Williams at North Carolina. To come out of that type of heritage is exceptional. A great, great heritage in coaching, he bring that and he can flat out win. He has a great family too, right?
"We are glad to have you here, Mark. Being a member of the Aggie family is something I'm just a short timer, four years now and I have learned to love this place. Marilyn and I are dedicated to this place and I know you will be too. To ensure that let me go get you a jacket. We are going to put a maroon jacket on you. Normally I would just trade mine for the other but Omar the tent maker makes mine.
"Ladies and gentleman may I present to you the head coach of Texas A&M University, Mark Turgeon."
NEW HEAD COACH MARK TURGEON: "Thanks Bill. One of the main reasons I am here is because of this guy to my left (Bill Byrne.) I have known him for a very long time and I feel very fortunate. The reason that Aggie Athletics, Texas A&M athletics is continuing to get better is because of him. I believed in him from the beginning. I was excited to hear from Texas A&M. I felt like it was a great opportunity for me. I was at a special place, a place that was very good to me. It was hard, and it was going to take a special place and a special man and a place that I felt we could be very successful to leave. I have had opportunities to leave before and nothing excited me like A&M excited me, a chance to be the head men's basketball coach. I am extremely excited. The guys are already sucking up to me, they have Turgeon written on their shirt. That's not going to help with playing time but I like that. I just met with the players, it's been a whirlwind weekend. I had recruits in this weekend in Wichita and now here I am on Tuesday being announced as the head coach. I watched A&M play a lot this year and I was extremely impressed. I tried to recruit a lot of those young men over there. I know how special they are, how good of players they are. This program has a lot of momentum right now. Bill hired me to continue that momentum and take it to another level and that's what we are going to try to do. I'm very excited to be here, I'm looking forward to the days that lie ahead. It's been unbelievably busy for me but that's just the way it is at this time. We'll do everything we can. We will be passionate about making this program the best that it can possibly be. With me what you see is what you get. I am who I am, I don't try to fake it. I'll be candor, I'll be honest, sometimes I am too honest. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I'm passionate about what I do. I am passionate about two things. I am passionate about college basketball and I am passionate about my family. That's why my family is here today and we will introduce them a little bit later. I'm happy to be here. I came here yesterday. Unlike reports that I had already committed I hadn't and the reason I did was because of the people around the university and the people in this town. They assured me that they would welcome us with open arms, they will give us every opportunity to be successful and raise our family in a first rate community. That's why we are here and we are looking forward to it."
Coach what was so enticing about this job and when did you finally commit to it?
TURGEON: "I committed I guess about 8:30 last night. What made it attractive was three things. Bill Byrne, I believe in him. I worked for a tremendous man at Wichita State, one of the best athletic directors in the country. He did everything he could to make my life better with basketball and off the court. I feel like Bill Byrne will do the same. I am here because of those young men in the white t-shirts over there. I believe in them, I watched them play a lot. I know we will be missing a few pieces from this year's team but we are going to add a few. That's why I'm here number two and number three is because of this community and the love and passion that they have for the university. You can sense it, you can feel it. I'm looking forward to football games, my son Will and I love football so we are going to bug the heck out of coach and hopefully see some practices so we are looking forward to that."
Bill, did you talk to Roy Williams and what kind of recommendations did he give you?
BYRNE: "I talk to Roy often. He couldn't say anything about Mark that wasn't absolutely first rate. He just told me that he is one of the very best if not the brightest young basketball coaches in the nation. We talked about how he gets along with people and how he treats his athletes and about his strong sense of family values. He had everything that made him fit perfectly in Aggieland. I think that Mark Turgeon is a perfect for Texas A&M University. He fits in our culture and I believe in that so severely. If you look at his Sweet 16 team from last year too, he had six kids from Texas. He recruits the heck out of Texas and that is very important to me. I think we need to protect the borders of Texas and keep the best and brightest in Texas and he does that."
TURGEON: "When I went to Wichita I said that I was going to follow the Bill Self plan and recruit Texas hard and I did that and I think that's one of the reason's I am here today."
Can you talk about your offensive and defensive philosophies?
TURGEON: "Well I just spoke to the players. Last year I was in Hawaii with Coach Gillispie and we started talking and we like the same players, we recruit the same players. Obviously recruiting at Texas A&M went to a new level this year so we didn't bump heads as much but we like the same players. We also both have the same philosophy defensively. We get after it man to man defensively. We will probably, this is a word I don't like to use but, sprinkle in a zone, not very often and we will press some. Looking at the guys and watching them on T.V. I think we will be able to do that. The Carolina, Kansas background, better be careful using Kansas now, is trapping and doing different things, and I told the guys we will do different things. I was lucky enough to work for some great coaches. Does that make me a great coach, no. I had to go out and work hard and try to make myself a better coach. I adapt to my team. I am not an expert on this team yet. I know a lot of them, saw them play in high school. Offensively we will do whatever is best for this team. If it's throw the ball to Joe Jones 25 times a game then we will do that. If it's Dominique (Kirk) or somebody else then we will do that but we will figure it out. I told the guys we're going to follow the same motto you've had here for the last few years. We are going to play hard, play smart and play together. If you do those three things you are going to be pretty good and you just try to get better every day. Our team will evolve and we will get better as the season goes on. That is a very special group of young men over there and I look forward to coaching them."
Coach can you share anything that you told your players back in Wichita?
TURGEON: "Besides that I love them and I am going to miss them. You know how I feel about them James. It's hard, and I am here today because of those players. I told them I loved them and that life isn't fair. I also told them that they had a great school, that Wichita State is a special place. They have a tremendous AD and he is going to hire a great coach. I hope they are not as mad at me today as they were last night. They are still a part of my life and I want to help them any way I can. That's all I said. I told them I loved them and I cared about them and that I was sorry. It was an opportunity for me and my family and just something that I had to do. I got a hug from most of them which was real important to me. I'm sure I'll talk to them quite a bit before they hire a new coach."
Coach did you talk to any of the recruits that A&M signed and did you recruit any of those guys?
TURGEON: "Well Billy took it to a new level this past year so no, but I saw them all play. I am well aware of them. My assistants might have spoken to them early in the process. I know Nathan Walkup was a guy we thought that we had found before anyone else found him. It was us and Rice at the time. It didn't work out for us, he had those Aggie ties. Like I said I took this job last night about 8:30, I was on an airplane for an hour and a half. I was with my players until about 1 a.m. this morning. I got a little bit of sleep and we brought three little kids with us so you're giving bathes and making phone calls. It's a little hectic but I probably made 20 phone calls today and a lot of them were surrounding the players."
Have you decided what you are going to do about your staff yet, your assistants?
TURGEON: "It is still evolving. It's a different animal that I am taking on here, there are a few more spots. Alvin Williamson here is going to come with me. He played for coach Tubby Smith at Tulsa, he was part of two sweet sixteen teams. He has been with me for two years now. He is definitely on board. At this point I am going to leave it at that. There are a lot of people that I am talking to about my staff. I hope to get a couple more in by Thursday. We are allowed to go in at noon on Thursday and talk to these young men that have signed with us so I will need some more horses down there to help me do that."
I know that basketball has been a passion at Wichita State for quite some time now, we are still relatively new at it. How aware have you been about the resurgence in popularity here on campus and in this community over the last three years from 0-16 to the Sweet 16.
TURGEON: "I'm well aware of it. I told the President and I told Bill that we recruited a young man out of Houston five years ago and the other school he was considering was Texas A&M and he ended up in Wichita and he was our MVP this year. He has had a great career. We recruit Texas. I was mad at Bill (Byrne) when he hired Billy (Gillispie) instead of me the first time but it was a great hire. I might have been too scared back then to come but Billy has done some great things four our program and made it to where I'm sure Bill had a lot of guys trying to get this job. I am aware of that and I am excited about that. I wouldn't be sitting here if we were coming off an 0-16. I had to good of a job. I'm excited about Reed Arena. I hear it's the place to be now. I'm coming from a place that sold out every night and had a waiting list of about 700 families. I want to create that here, I want to continue what the staff before me started. I just want to keep getting better and better, that's the goal and that's why I'm here. I'm here because of Larry Brown too. I don't like to name drop but Larry Brown has been a big part of my life. About three weeks ago there were some job openings that he was talking to me about and I just told him "Coach I have a really good life here, I've got nine years, I'm comfortable, the people really like me, I could be here and have a great life." He just said Coach, you didn't get into coaching to be comfortable. You got into coaching to coach in Sweet 16s every year and Final Fours and that's why I'm here."
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