Illinois introduced Brad Underwood as its next head coach on Monday afternoon, and it felt like deja vu listening to him rave about the culture, tradition and expectations at his new gig in Champaign like he did a year ago in Stillwater.
Athletic director Josh Whitham introduced Underwood, while also offering some interesting insight behind the recruitment process of OSU’s former coach. Here’s some notes and quotes from the presser.
• Whitham says his first contact with Underwood took place on Saturday morning, although Whitham made contact with his agent on Wednesday (two days before OSU’s first round game against Michigan). “We were thrilled to learn that Illinois has long been a destination location for Coach Underwood,” Whitham said of his intial contact with Underwood’s agent on Wednesday.
• He added: “Needless to say, we hit it off,” when speaking on his first contact with Underwood himself on Saturday. Said he initially thought they would have no chance of pulling Underwood away from OSU.
• Tyler Underwood, Brad’s son (and walk-on at OSU) is transferring to Illinois to join his father.
• “This is a very special moment in my life,” said Underwood. “One that I was never sure would come to fruition.”
• “I would be remiss if I did not thank a great group of people at Oklahoma State. It’s a wonderful institution. I leave there with my head held high. They’re going to get a terrific basketball coach there. That program is going to continue to move forward, and I thoroughly enjoyed my year there and wish them nothing but continued success, which that program will continue to have.”
• Underwood reiterated that he “never thought” he would leave Oklahoma State. “For me, it was no decision. It was something that meant a great deal to me. I spent 10 years in this state.” Says that sometimes the unexpected happens.
• Throwing shade? Said Underwood: “When your director of athletics has the same vision (of winning a national championship), that was important to me.”
• “When this arena is full, it’s one of the best home courts ever … We’re going to work hard to be every day guys.”
• Underwood: “The tradition and culture of this program is why I stand here today.”
Underwood at his #okstate introduction: "This is about filling this arena because of the tradition and the culture."
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) March 20, 2017
— Larry Hawley (@HawleySports) March 20, 2017
Here is the full press conference.