Wed May 11 01:57pm EDT
If showing up to a job interview wearing anything besides a suit and tie is typically suicide for a potential candidate, then Mark Turgeon is fortunate his new boss at Maryland is more open-minded than most.
Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson called Turgeon on Sunday while the Texas A&M coach was driving back from a camping trip with his wife and three kids and asked to interview him in Pittsburgh that night. Turgeon was flattered by Anderson's interest but woefully ill-prepared for a potentially life-changing meeting.
"I didn't know I was going to be interviewing for Maryland, so I hadn't shaved," Turgeon recalled Tuesday during his introductory news conference. "I said Kevin, 'All I have are sweats, shorts and Texas A&M shirts. Are you OK with that?' He said, 'Yeah, I'm fine. I'll come in jeans and a sweater.'"
Sporting three-day-old stubble, sweat pants and a Kansas City Chiefs T-shirt over the top of his usual Texas A&M garb, Turgeon wowed Anderson with his charisma and vision for the Maryland program during an interview at a Pittsburgh hotel. By the time the meeting was over, Turgeon said, "I knew it was my job to take or leave."
It's no surprise Turgeon impressed Anderson during their chat, after listening to the new Maryland coach deliver a compelling introductory news conference. Turgeon assuaged fears about his lack of deep NCAA tournament runs at Texas A&M, his slow-paced offense or his minimal recruiting ties to the Washington, D.C., area with his charm, passion and self-deprecating sense of humor.
He said he'd already begun recruiting in his 24 hours on the job and that he wouldn't have accepted the job if he wasn't confident in his ability to land local prospects. He described his style of play as "winning," suggesting that he'll adapt to the talent he has in the program. And he emphasized that he's excited to compete against Duke and North Carolina, adding that the only place he fears Roy Williams is the golf course.
Maybe the biggest laugh Turgeon drew came after he was asked if he was apprehensive following legendary coach Gary Williams, who created the vacancy at Maryland when he retired abruptly last week. Turgeon smiled and referenced the oft-discussed public feud between Williams and former Maryland athletic director Debbie Yow, joking "I know Gary's not going to try to sabotage Maryland basketball."
"I think Gary's going to be a huge ally to me," Turgeon added once the laughter and applause subsided. "I think he'll help me tremendously. Gary Williams was Maryland basketball, and I hope 15, 20 years from now, however long this lasts, people say Mark Turgeon was Maryland basketball."
It will take Maryland fans a while to get accustomed to having anyone besides Williams roaming the sideline, but Turgeon's introductory news conference was a great first step toward winning over any skeptics.
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