ATHENS, Ohio -- Ohio Athletics officially introduced former team captain Jeff Boals as the 19th head coach in the history of the Ohio men's basketball program this morning at a press conference inside the Convocation Center.
"It means a lot to come back here," said Boals. "I am honored and humbled to be the 19th head coach at Ohio University, my alma mater. I take that with great pride. There's going to be no one more passionate than me serving this community and serving our student-athletes to be productive citizens in life."
Below is a complete transcript of Boals' introductory press conference.
OHIO MEN'S BASKETBALL HEAD COACH JEFF BOALS INTRODUCTORY PRESS CONFERENCE
Monday, March 18, 2019
Athletic Director Jim Schaus
"Thank you Mike, appreciate it. What is indeed a great day to be a Bobcat, with the hiring of Jeff Boals. It's an exciting day for all of us. New beginnings are very exciting for all of us in our lives. I think today we embark on a new chapter in the history of Ohio Men's Basketball with Jeff's hiring. Although this search was very short, there was a comprehensive review on a national level of great head coaches and assistant coaches to meet what we were really looking for in a new head coach. Jeff checked all the boxes and fit all the criteria that we had. I would say that one of the things that was exciting about the process was we got to take a look at in what we wanted in a new head coach. We were able to obtain those things, but we got some bonuses along the way. We were able to get someone that is an Ohioan, an Ohio University graduate, and played on the men's basketball team during one of the greatest eras in school history. I'd say that's a pretty good deal. I would like to welcome Jeff's family that is here. His wife Katie, daughter Sydney, his son Chase and Jeff's mother is here. Marge is here. So welcome, and welcome to the Bobcat family. Great to have you here. You know, I think that one of things that we were looking for in this position, there are three things that really stood out. First of all, is really outstanding coaching experience. When you can hire someone who has had excellent head coaching experience, it's a plus. It's a very difficult job. A lot of balls to juggle. They have to have the right personality and be very organized. I certainly appreciate that, and Jeff has done an outstanding job in his three years as head coach at Stony Brook. He really helped turn that program, and they are in a good place right now. They are positioned well for the future based on his recruiting and the program that he has built there. You also look at other areas of his experience. Jeff has coached in the MAC. I think the years of experience he had under Thad Matta at Ohio State. It's always important to be under a good leader, and I have great respect for Coach Matta. I think if you look at all the things he's done in his career, it's incredible. In addition, Jeff is a great Xs and Os coach. During this process, I watch a lot of games on TV. One of the things you'll notice on the sidelines is Jeff very calculated. He's not a raving maniac on the sidelines with the officials. He's not berating his players. When it's a timeout, he takes that clipboard out and he's very specific on what he's going to do. I've seen his team get down big, and he's still under control. I've seen him be up big. How you manage yourself on the court is really indicative. The next area is recruiting. It's the life blood of any program. There's an old adage in the coaching profession. Great student-athletes, great players make for smart coaches. I'm sure, Jeff, you agree with that. He knows that. I think it is very important to us from a recruiting standpoint to have a coach and a staff that is really familiar with recruiting Ohio and this region. Recruiting is all about relationships. Relationships with student-athletes. Jeff's entire staff is also from Ohio. They've successfully recruited Ohio and this region. To build relationships with high school coaches, AAU coaches. Very, very important to do that. Last time I checked, we're the only school in the state that can put Ohio across their chest, so I would say that's really important. Lastly, I think Jeff's personality. It's really infectious when you get a chance to meet him, you just sense right off this energy, his enthusiasm, his vision for everything he does, especially for Ohio University. Very passionate. It's also extremely important to have a personality that can work with different kinds of people in different circumstances. The constituency he has to work with as a head coach involves players, assistant coaches, media, fans, administrators and all types of things. He's done that well and the Stony Brook athletic director just raved about how what he has done there at Stony Brook. I know that Jeff's personality is something that is only going to help his success here at Ohio University. If you can't tell, I'm pretty excited about Jeff, and I'm pretty excited for Ohio men's basketball under his leadership. I would also like to thank President Nellis who has been very supportive of the athletic department through this process. We had a chance to meet with Jeff this week and we were just overwhelmed with and impressed on so many different levels. So, President Nellis I really appreciate your support of our athletic department and program and what you do. Without any further ado, I'd like to introduce the 21st president of Ohio University, Duane Nellis.
Ohio President Dr. M. Duane Nellis
"Well, thank you all for being here on a very special day and it's a great day to be a Bobcat today. We're really excited to have Jeff and his family here today. Katie, Sydney, Chase and his mother. Very special with family. You know as Jim said, I had the opportunity to participate in the interview with Jeff, and there were certain key words and dialogue that I was looking for and reinforced some points that Jim has already made. I wanted to mention some of the words that came out of that interview process that, for me, were really important. One of those is certainly being competitive. You feel that passion with Jeff in what he has done at Stony Brook and what he has done as an assistant at some major programs. We want to be at the highest level. We want to compete for MAC Championships every year. We want to be there at the top. But we also want to do it – and I think Jeff reflected this – with integrity. We want a program that is clearly at the highest level of integrity, and Jeff reinforced that in so many different ways. He talked about the ways he builds his program. The way he treats his student-athletes. The way he recruits. He mentioned the word family many times, and, not only about his immediate family and how important they are, but his basketball team. And the fact they are family. I think he sees that the Ohio University family is an important part of what drew Ruthie and I to Athens, and I think that is true in drawing Jeff back to Ohio University. That sense of commitment to the family. Academic quality is another one that he strives for with his players. It's more than being an athlete. It's being a student-athlete that is successful in the classroom and on the playing field. Being part of the community as well, the athletes and the team. Really training them with lifelong skills. I heard Jeff talk about these are young men that he is training for a lifetime of success by being part of his basketball program. Coming back to Ohio is really, really important to Jeff and his family. The experience he had at Ohio University, I heard him talk about that in so many different ways. How meaningful this place is to him in his heart, passion and the type of team he wants to build at Ohio University. I am really thrilled today to have Jeff here as our new coach. We welcome him back to his Ohio University family, and, certainly, his family, to our family as part of Ohio University. Thank you for being here today, and congratulations to Coach Boals."
Head Coach Jeff Boals
"I'll tell you what, thankfully one of the criteria wasn't being a great player, because I would have been scratched off the list. I'm extremely honored and gratefully humbled to be back home. I think when I walked into the Convocation Center and looked up and saw the rafters, saw the banners, saw seats, and it brought back a flood of memories. A lot of them positive, a couple negative, but seeing the banners and the Convocation Center floor -- there's no better place. I took a moment and looked around and smiled, thought about the good times and bad times and really how that shaped me who I am today. My senior year, about 20 games, I tore my ACL for the third time. The training room that is brand new now, wasn't here when I was here, I spent a lot of time there. I always tell people, I literally fell into coaching. I wanted to be a physical therapist. Through all my knee surgeries I spent a lot of time with physical therapists and trainers, I felt like that was my calling. The end of my senior year, I was 20 games in. I wish my head coach could be here today. Coach (Larry) Hunter meant a lot to me. I wish he could be here. He got me started in coaching. Twenty four years later, here we are. It's hard to believe it's come full circle. The steps and avenues you go, and deal with your family. It means a lot to come back here. I think first of all, like I said I am honored and humbled to be the 19th head coach at Ohio University, my alma mater. I take that with great pride. There's going to be no one more passionate than me serving this community and serving our student-athletes to be productive citizens in life. I've been on Court Street, I've been in James Hall, Sargent Hall. Maybe a little too much. I know what these guys are going through. It's different in coaching than when you played, but when you play, where they're at, I think that's a special thing. It's always been a dream of mine, since I started to coaching, to come back and be the head coach. I feel very fortunate to be standing in front of you. I would like to thank President (Samuel L.) Stanley and Shawn Heilbron, the president and athletic director of Stony Brook. They took a chance and believed in me. I carved a three-year career there in Long Island, New York. I never thought my first head coaching job would be on Long Island, but I really want to thank them and the team. One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was tell my team I was leaving. The relationships you build. The recruits you have. It's a special group. We finished 24-8 this year. It was the most regular season wins ever. Thirteen road wins, most in the country. We beat an SEC team, two A-10 teams, a Missouri Valley team. I'm grateful to them for allowing this opportunity. To tell them I was leaving was difficult. With that being said I would like to thank President Nellis and Jim Schaus for starting the process with me and believing in me to be the next head coach here. I think if you look at the opportunity to coach these young men, it's exciting for me. I've grown up and matured since leaving here every step of the way and three years of being the head coach at Stony Brook has really prepared me for a situation like this. I think the group that we have will always compete, play selfless, play as a team and the biggest thing is play with grit. We're going to put a product on the floor that is a fun product to watch. The young men that we like in our program are going to be high character, guys who love the game of basketball, and young men that are serious about earning their degree. Three non-negotiables will be going to class, your attitude and your effort. Three things you can control. We're going to have fun doing it in the process. Lastly, I would like to thank my family. My mom Marge is here, she lives in Magnolia, Ohio, where I grew up. Actually, about two hours and 15 minutes away. They cut a couple roads off. Made that trip way too many times. My wife Katie, my daughter Sydney and my son Chase. College athletics is tough on families. The journey that we've had – my daughter is 15, going to be 16 – she's lived in seven different cities. The sacrifices that they have made is huge. My wife, obviously, a coach's wife, ups and downs. There's a glass of wine waiting for me when we win and two when we lose. She's a great coaches wife in that aspect. They live, breathe and die it like you do. I think being a coach is special. The chance to serve young men and help them become productive citizens in life. Understand what their goals are. If you look at athletics, it teaches you work ethic, discipline, teamwork and really prepares you for the real world. With that being said, I am elated to be here. It's a great day to be a Bobcat, like Jim said. I'm excited to get going recruiting, like he said, the life blood of any program is recruiting. We're going to hit the ground running and bring in the brightest, the biggest, the best. Kids will come from Ohio, and let's go start this weekend at the state tournament. Appreciate everyone showing up and I look forward to meeting and talking with everyone. A lot of familiar faces. I have a little bit more of grey hair than last time I was here. Thank you very much.
On what his first steps are as head coach:
"First and foremost is the team. We have a couple young men in the back right now, and anytime there is a change, it's difficult when you're dealing with 19-to-23-year-olds. There's a trust factor. I need to earn their trust, and we need to get together. I'll sit down individually with them and rehash some of their thoughts and what's important to them. Find out what their individual goals are and what their team goals are. I believe we have five weeks of the semester left, which will be good to get workouts and, really, to just get to know them. I think that the more you trust each other, and the better relationships you have, the better everyone is going to be, which is the most important thing to get this going on the right path."
On meeting with the team later today and how Larry Hunter might play into it:
"I'm going to meet with the team this afternoon. Larry Hunter had so many Hunter-isms that we called him Yoda. He used to play Jedi mind tricks on us. Larry was as old-school as you could be. I don't think today that I could do that. I'm a very positive coach. I want our guys to play with freedom and give them a lot of trust. I don't want them thinking that I'm going to react. There will be a trust factor involved, and I'm excited to meet them and spend time with them. Like I said, it's a fragile time when you have a change. The biggest thing is to show them that you care and show them that you love them. I want them to understand that I'm their head coach and that we're in this together."
On what his early goals are:
"Any time you start a season, a coach is going to have a goal of reaching the championship level. It's a process, and it's a journey. There are ups and downs in every journey. You have to embrace the adversity just like you do the prosperity. I think the biggest thing will be when we're going through everything we deal with. It's the response to anything that happens. Our goal next year will be to win the championship. That won't change year-to-year. Some years, it may be tougher. You have to play as a team. You have to play selfless. You have to play tough, and you have to compete. One thing that I'll use that Larry used all the time is compete. I don't say it like he did, but we're going to be competitive in practice. We're going to be competitive in shooting drills and the weight room and the academic center. I think the more you compete, the more it drives and elevates everybody."
On how to turn things around:
"Winning is tough. There's no magic pill or secret formula to do it. It's a lot of hard work and a lot of belief. A lot of it depends on the leader and how you get everyone on the same page. It's tough to win. You have to be prepared. You have to organized. If you play hard and play together, a lot of times, good things will happen. I've followed Ohio University for the last 24 years. I've always been a Bobcat, and I've always been a fan. I thought (former head coach) Saul (Phillips) did a phenomenal job. Injuries obviously played a course in a lot of their seasons. There's different things that happened that you can't control. I always tell the guys to control what you can. That's your attitude, your actions and your effort."
On how he will build a relationship with the team:
"When you have change, it's a fragile time. There's going to be people disappointed. That's my job as a head coach to bring everyone together. The best thing you can do is communicate. Nowadays, kids might text each other, but you want to communicate and build trust. This place isn't going to be for everybody. What we're doing and what we're trying to do isn't going to be for everybody. We want people who want to be here for the right reasons. If the case happens that they don't want to be here, then we'll do everything we can. I'll help them achieve their goals and find success."
On his decision to leave Stony Brook:
"This is a tough decision. We had a great team coming back. We were 24-8 and lost one senior. It was going to take a special place and a special situation for me to leave. Obviously, I feel like this is a special place and a special situation. I think that with our staff, hopefully Geno (Ford) has a chance to get the job at Stony Brook, and the other guys will probably come with us. Ironically, all those guys are from Ohio. From Columbus, Akron, near Canton. It just kind of happened that way. It's important to have relationships with the high school coaches and the AAU coaches. The biggest thing is getting people down here to campus. When they get here and see this beautiful campus, there's a wow factor when you walk into the arena. Obviously, the new video board and the locker room. The resources are there. Now you just have to build relationships and get them on campus. You want people who want to be here for the right reasons and you'll be able to do that."
Athletics Director Jim Schaus
On the hiring process:
"One thing that I would say is that as an athletic director, you are always watching what's going on in those major sports. Regardless of how the season goes, I always do some homework. I pay attention to good coaches who are out there. That process, regardless of how a team is doing, is something that helps expedite when we are in a position where we need to make a search. I felt prepared in that way. I've developed a style of research and was very comprehensive. It went very quickly, so I know you might not think that was the case, but it was very deliberate. There were a lot of people on a list, and I worked my way through. I think clearly, Jeff was the right person for exactly what we needed. Fortunately, the search fell into place. I think there is value in a search like this to move it along if you can. You don't want to be hasty, but you have a lot of constituents, You have the current team, and parents, recruits and media and fans. People want to know. It worked out well to be able to move it along. You don't really have a time frame. It has a life of its own. Sometimes it takes longer than others. In this case, after doing initial research, we knew exactly what we wanted, and Jeff fit into that right away, so the search was able to move forward very quickly. We're very blessed about that."
Head Coach Jeff Boals
On the hiring process:
"From my standpoint, I was contacted, and it's a process. The timeline for these things is 24-48 hours where you have to make a decision. I'm thankful that President Nellis and Jim were very cordial with my time and understood the timing of everything. We had thorough discussions on Thursday and Friday. We met on Saturday and had a great conversation, and that's kind of when it happened. It took a special situation for me to leave Stony Brook, and I was elated that they asked me to be the head coach."
On learning under Larry Hunter and Thad Matta:
"Different guys and different ways to do it. You always take something away. I've worked with a lot of great coaches. Thad being the most recent. Larry was such a competitor. He competed at everything. Racket ball, cards, you name it. Larry was just competing. I think that was who I was as a player. I wasn't the most athletic player, but I'd be on the floor taking charges and diving. Picking a teammate up and cheering them along on the bench. Thad was great from a confidence stand standpoint. Great with giving his players confidence and letting them play with freedom. I think that's really key, nowadays especially. Thad was a great communicator. He did a phenomenal job communicating. Every kid is different. There were kids on the Stony Brook team that if I yelled at them, they'd go into a shell. There were other kids that if I yelled at them, they played harder. As a coach, you have to figure that out. I thought that Thad was a good communicator. He was instrumental in me accepting this job. He always said to not leave for a bad job or a bad situation. Always make sure it's a top-three job in the league. I think it's the best job in the league with resources, funding, facilities, campus, everything. I'm excited about that. I call him all the time, and I'll continue to call Thad."
On not having any hard feelings over not being hired as Ohio's head coach the previous two times the position was open:
"My dream job was to be the head coach at Ohio University. Jim and I have a great relationship. We have great dialog. He's transparent. I know that there are things out there about hard feelings, but it was more disappointed on my end. I completely understand that this is a business. At the time, he preferred a head coach and I wasn't a head coach. Thankfully, I went out and had a great three-year stint at Stony Brook. The team I took over, three kids got arrested the night of my interview. Another was arrested a few months later. I didn't coach the team I thought that I was going to coach. Then we lost five seniors and my best player. We had to regroup and lost a lot of close games my second year. I think through positivity and the culture that we have we turned it around with one senior, one junior and the rest were freshmen and sophomores. I'll never use young as an excuse. I know there are a lot of young guys next year, but why not us? No hard feelings at all. Timing is everything in this profession. I feel fortunate to get the experience that I did. I worked for a great AD and a great president, and I'm looking to continue the same here."