Athlete of the Week: New CofC coach Earl Grant
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- The ABC News 4 Athlete of the Week is truly a homegrown guy. Stall High graduate Earl Grant was named the head coach at College of Charleston Tuesday night after spending time as an assistant at Clemson, Wichita State, Winthrop, and The Citadel.
On Wednesday, he met the media as the top Cougar on the court for the first time. And while it was his first time, Grant was right at home.
"Ive been with coaches who have prepared me for this moment. I've never been a head coach but I've got three sons. I had never been a father but I think I'm a hell of a father, I hope I'll be a hell of a coach," he said.
And he's already picking up compliments from all over the NCAA.
"He's one of the good guys in in college basketball. He's paid dues, a fine gentlemen, a very good basketball coach. He deserves this opportunity and he'll unify those who need to be unified at CofC. He's engaging, likeable and people will be drawn to him," said Gregg Marshall, the head coach at Wichita State.
But this is not like most head coaching jobs and not like most introductions. It's September and comes after three months of controversy and two years of alleged verbal abuse for players.
"Basketball has a little black eye right now because of things that happened and we've got to patch that up," Grant said.
He understands the situation he's be thrust into without underestimating the damage done before he ever arrived.
"I know for me the past three days how hard it was having patience, waiting and seeing what decision was made here. For me, patience is long suffering. These players have been suffering for long time of uncertainty and knowing who will lead the program and trying to figure that out," Grant said.
Adding to the complication was knowing his close friend and fellow Stall High grad Anthony Johnson was hours -- if not minutes -- away from getting the job before a red flag was lifted during a background check.
"It saddened me for that to happen. I talked to Joe Hull right away after it happened. I called not to say I am next in line for the job, I called to say, 'I'm sorry for what happened for the program,' and Anthony Anthony is supportive of me and the players. I want to keep that relationship. I was saddened," Grant said. "I supported him when I felt he was getting the job, and now I feel like he's supporting me. Somebody has to do the job and do it well so I'm just blessed to be here."
But Grant is walking into the arena with his eyes wide open. He knows the school, the team, and he's already studied his personnel.
"If we're going to play defense and rebound the ball, we will have opportunities to push and attack, get up and down floor. We have young guys who can push like Stitt and Chealey; big guys like Baru who can get down the floor," he said.
Grant says the building and the history at the College is strong, but the spirit needs to change. And he's happy to make that part of his job.
"Trying to develop a level of trust and respect, having the players trusting me and me trusting them. I don't know if it's a challenge but it will take time to earn respect. I told them last night, 'You didn't choose me but I'm not here by accident, it's not a mistake. It's great opportunity for me. I've always wanted to be here and we're going to be successful,'" he said.
Wednesday was just the start, albeit a late one.
This was not Grant's first stint at the College of Charleston. He was an assistant coach for one day in 2006 under Gregg Marshall when Marshall took the job from Winthrop only to back out the next day.
Grant expects to be around a lot longer than one day this time around.