One on One with Eddie Fogler
Former USC basketball coach Eddie Fogler is a TV analyst for Fox Sports Network.
After your last game at South Carolina, you said "I'm leaving college basketball with my dignity, my integrity and my sanity." What did you mean?
"I felt I had a good career, was a good coach. There were some better, probably more worse. I feel in my 15 years as a head coach, my 15 years as an assistant, I did it the right way. I was taught to do it the right way. I played for a coach who taught me how to do it and that was Dean Smith … Winning was important, but students were more important. Going to class, getting degrees, and doing it under the NCAA rules was important to me. I think I did it the right way. I felt good the way I was leaving the game."
Do you feel there is a loss of integrity in the game today?
"I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but the recruiting scene is not good in college basketball. I can't talk for other sports, but I still talk to other coaches. Every other week or so we see what becomes public, and surely there are other situations that haven't surfaced yet. Other coaches in the business who I know very closely and stay in contact with tell me it's worse than it was last year at this time. The recruiting part of college basketball, in my view, is not real positive right now."
You saw Clemson play last week. What do you make of the Tigers in their first year under Brad Brownell?
"They have improved greatly. The sum is better than the individual parts. The whole picture is they are a very good team. They have some good players, but they play very well. That's called good coaching. Brad Brownell is obviously a very good coach and has gotten a lot out of this team in his first year with a changing style of play."
What does it take to sustain success at programs like Clemson and South Carolina, which are not traditional basketball powers but are in power conferences?
"I'd say, first of all, Brownell and (USC's) Darrin Horn are very good coaches. I think they have the ingredients of what you look for when you watch their teams play. Therefore it all comes down to recruiting. A good coach or a great coach with not good enough players doesn't make it."
What kinds of players should Clemson and South Carolina target?
"With Darrin and Brad, they have two different systems and styles of play. Brad has always won with his kind of player, not the highly recruited type. I don't think Brad's players have ever had the most talent in either the Colonial or the Horizon League. But his teams are always at the top because he recruits to what is important to him, so they don't have to be McDonald's All-Americans. Recruiting guys who don't fit your system is like Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech recruiting guys who can't run the option."
Any desire to get back into coaching?
"I miss the game. I miss the coaching. I miss the practices. I miss the working with kids. I'm not sure I miss the recruiting, the alumni talks and the media, although my friends accuse me of joining the media. Never say never, but I have a daughter getting married and a son going to college."
What are some of the lasting influences from Dean Smith?
"With coach Smith (at UNC) I think the integrity part is crucial, and I think you know it's the way to do it. And ultimately it is about helping student-athletes once they leave your program."