Hard to believe, but until Friday, college coaching legend Bobby Cremins had never stepped foot in Allen Fieldhouse.
“It’s an honor to be here. I feel I’m on hallowed ground,” said the 65-year-old Cremins, who went 570-367 overall in 31 years at Georgia Tech, College of Charleston and Appalachian State. “I feel like I’m at Augusta playing the Masters.
“The pictures on the walls are amazing. It’s like a shrine,” added Cremins, in town this weekend as featured speaker at Bill Self’s KU Coaches Clinic. “They’ve kept the history in place here. That’s what I love about it. They could modernize it and put fancy seats in it, but it would take away the meaningfulness of it.”
Cremins, who retired after 11 games last season after falling ill during his sixth season at College of Charleston, said he considered scheduling KU at his last coaching stop.
“We were already overloaded. We were playing North Carolina, Maryland, South Carolina, but it is an amazing place,” Cremins said of KU. “Walking around campus, it kind of reminds me of Duke.”
Cremins, who played his college ball at the University of South Carolina, spoke to several hundred coaches Friday about offensive schemes and general issues such as how to get a job at the collegiate level.
“I can’t thank Bill and Joe Dooley enough for contacting me and inviting me,” Cremins said. “It’s a thrill to be here.”
A longtime friend of KU assistant Dooley, Cremins until this weekend hasn’t had a chance to really get to know 10th-year KU head coach Self.
“I related the story today. I was at a Final Four in Indianapolis, and they (Jayhawks) had gotten upset in the first round,” Cremins said. “I came out of my hotel room, and one of first people I ran into in the street was Bill Self. It told me so much about him. A lot of times you have a bad first-round loss, and you don’t want to leave your hotel room. You don’t want to get out. He was out and about. He had the best attitude.
“I admired that. It’s showed me the type of person he is, how balanced he was. I remember I had some tough first-round losses, and I didn’t want to go to the Final Four. I did go, but I’d hide out a bit. He was not hiding out.”
Cremins is planning a big reunion weekend for former Georgia Tech players this season as the Yellow Jackets reveal their newly renovated arena. He also is an ambassador for the Charleston hoops program. The court at Georgia Tech is named after Cremins, who went 354-237 in 19 years at the ACC school, which is located in Atlanta.
“I do miss aspects of it. A lot of things I don’t miss,” Cremins said of coaching. “I love college basketball. I love the game. I hope to stay involved in it (perhaps in TV). My biggest thrill is I played in the ACC at South Carolina. Winning our first ACC championship was a real big thrill, being able to say I was part of that.”