SAPAKOFF COLUMN: A 'long list' and other good ideas for Cougs
A smart man scanned the crowd at Bobby Cremins' farewell news conference Monday. He noticed, among others at TD Arena, former ACC head basketball coaches Les Robinson and Cliff Ellis paying homage.
"Our next coach," College of Charleston President George Benson said, "has a tough act to follow."
There were tears before, during and after Cremins made official what most realists have suspected since he took medical leave on Jan. 27, that the "exhaustion" and health concerns are enough to force the personable 64-year-old to retire.
But there were two things for Cougars fans to smile about.
Wisely, athletic director Joe Hull and his to-be-named search committee will patiently do the "national search" thing in looking for Cremins' replacement.
Shrewdly, Benson plans to keep Cremins around in some kind of part-time gig designed to raise funds. It's possible that much of the lifting will be done around the Charleston Classic basketball tournament.
Pace yourselves, Cougars fans.
Hull was asked if he has a short list of candidates.
"More like a long list," he said.
The short-term, long-list plan: Expand, then "narrow it back down" and get serious. Hull is
scheduled to go to New Orleans next week for the Final Four, a traditional Coach Search Zone.
There is no timetable.
Or annex CSU
"We want to be as quick as is reasonable," Hull said. "But to be honest with you, I can't let a timetable drive the process. We have to make sure we're thorough and we hire the right candidate. So I don't want to start with artificial limits. But, of course, the sooner the better."
New coach support factions will break strongly for current assistant Mark Byington and former College of Charleston and NBA guard Anthony Johnson.
Byington, Hull said, has earned the right to be "one of the finalists." Surely, Johnson will get a formal interview.
Of course, Hull, who is looking for both men's and women's basketball head coaches, could save a lot of time and money and try to hire Charleston Southern's overachieving Barclay Radebaugh and Julie Goodenough.
As for Cremins' future role, Benson isn't precisely sure.
"We don't have a contract yet," Benson said. "We don't know the details. We don't know what the salary will be. But it will definitely be in the area of building relationships, hopefully leading to some fundraising. We literally don't have a job description right now."
Big part-time role
This much is known: "It is unlikely to be full-time," Benson said.
Partly because legendary former College of Charleston head coach John Kresse has a full-time job with the school.
But Cremins is very valuable in the Charleston Classic department. He personally has recruited well-known programs to play in the November tournament run by ESPN, and in exchange gets plum holiday tournament assignments and TV slots for the Cougars.
"Exactly," Benson said. "With the combination of him and all his connections and this nice facility, we can bring in the good teams."
Cremins didn't get the Cougars into the NCAA Tournament; that hasn't happened since Kresse's last run in 1999. But he brought a fan base back together after the odd fractures within the Tom Herrion years.
Importantly, he more than maintained interest at TD Arena; Charleston in Cremins' sixth season led the Southern Conference in attendance even with an injury-riddled team that didn't make a postseason tournament.
He leaves the next guy with the best young talent in the league.
Tough act to follow?
Yes, and the pressure is on the College of Charleston to find that right guy.
Reach Geme Sapakoff at 937-5593 or on Twitter @sapakoff