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Tech Ex Bobby Cremins Returns To Coaching At The College Of Charleston
I talked with Coach Bobby Cremins two days after his College of Charles-ton Cougars were upset by Chattanooga in the finals of the Southern Conference basketball tournament.
“We did not play well,” he says, “but mainly we were simply too tired.”
The loss knocked the Cougars out of a berth in the NCAA tournament and left the coach, his team and his fans in shock. And yet it was not a bad year for Coach Cremins and his Cougars. They finished with a 26-9 record (15-5 in the Southern Conference.)
Cremins, the most successful coach in Georgia Tech basketball history, still carries a flame for the Yellow Jackets.
“I wanted to coach at Tech for 25 seasons,” he says. “That was my dream.”
But after 19 seasons, Cremins and the Tech athletic department mutually agreed that it was time for him to go. In his last six years at Tech (1994-2000), his Jackets went to the NCAA tournament only once.
What a comedown from earlier days. Cremins guided Tech to 14 winning seasons and 14 post-season berths, three ACC tournament titles, one ACC regular season title and a share of another, and a Final Four berth. His Jackets chalked up four wins over teams ranked number one in the nation.
Cremins’ record at Tech was (354-237). Not only was it Tech’s best ever, but it moved him into third place in victories among all ACC coaches.
He produced six All-Americans, 24 All-ACC play-ers and eight ACC Rookies of the year.
It was a sad day at the Flats and for the great majority of Tech basketball fans when the Tech Athletic Association bought out the last three years of his contract ($1.5 million), which would have carried him through the ’02-’03 season.
Says former Georgia Tech President Dr. G. Wayne Clough, “Bobby has been the embodiment of Tech basketball to fans and followers across the nation. He took on the challenge of leading a lowly basketball program to the top of the heap.”
The Jackets were so enamored and appreciative of Cremins getting Tech off the floor and into the fore they named the court at Alexander Memorial Coliseum, their home court, “Cremins Court.”
Cremins was named ACC “Coach of The Year” three times and is a member of the Tech Sports Hall of Fame and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.
After retiring from Tech, Cremins spent six years as a TV analyst, but coaching basketball was in his blood. So, when the College of Charles-ton called, Cremins came running. And in his first season he ran the Cougars to a 22-11 record.
A native of the Bronx, NY, Robert Joseph Cremins, Jr. picked up a basketball for the first time when he was 7 years old and hasn’t put it down yet – save for a TV analyst job.
He played games on the streets of New York. He won a scholarship to the University of South Carolina, where he was a point guard for three seasons and team captain for two.
He broke into the head coaching ranks at Appala-chian State, where he spent six seasons (‘76-’81) and posted a 100-70 record, once getting his team into the NCAA Championships.
When he announced his retirement at Tech, he received a deluge of mail, most of it expressing deep appreciation for his service.
“I never imagined anything like this. I don’t think many losing coaches go out like this,” he says.
“Fifty years from now it will not matter how many games he won. What will matter is how many people loved him and cared about him,” says his wife, Carolyn.
“What I learned at Tech,” Cremins says, “is that success is not forever and failure is not fatal.”
He’s found a home now in the state of South Caro-lina. “We have no plans to move again,” Cremins says.
So Cremins, the coach, now age 62, will stay put for the next three years.
And how does recruiting for the College of Charles-ton differ from recruiting at Georgia Tech?
“We don’t have the budget to recruit nationwide. So we mainly look for talent in the Southeast,” he says.
Who knows? Maybe he can find another Mark Price, Kenny Anderson, Stephon Marbury or Matt Harpring, former Jackets who, under Cremins’ leadership, took Tech from the cellar to the nation’s elite.