Mark Turgeon leaves A&M for Maryland

May, 10, 2011

Given the high-profile names floated throughout this remarkably quick coaching search -- a four-day master class in hiring efficiency by Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson -- you might be willing to forgive Maryland fans if they react to tonight's news with a collective "Who?"

They shouldn't. In the end, Anderson didn't just move quickly. He didn't just shoot for the splashy name. In landing Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, Anderson did something vastly more important: He made a high-quality hire.

[+] EnlargeMark Turgeon
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, FileMark Turgeon may not be the sexy hire Maryland was looking for, but he has proved to be a winner.
Of course, it's not as though Turgeon has been toiling in obscurity. The A&M coach has won everywhere he's been, a run that began at Wichita State, where Turgeon took a program that had only two winning seasons in its previous 11 and turned it into one that still consistently competes for Missouri Valley titles. In 2007, Turgeon parlayed the Shockers' success into a position at A&M, where he has guided a quietly solid program -- in the middle of football-obsessed Aggieland -- to four straight NCAA tournament appearances.

Still, there's no other way to put it: Turgeon does not qualify as a sexy hire.

He is not the young, charismatic coach coming off a brilliant mid-major run. He isn't the energetic, proven winner lured away from another top program. He isn't Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart or Jamie Dixon or Sean Miller, all of whose names were eagerly bandied about by Maryland fans on message boards and comment sections in the wake of beloved coach Gary Williams' retirement Thursday.

It's fair to say those excited Terrapins fans, who spent the past week hearing their program described as a sleeping giant by every anonymous source in the country -- not to mention followed as their AD met with Miller in Las Vegas on Saturday -- might have hoped for something a bit more, well, exciting.

By all the barometers we usually associate with that word, Turgeon doesn't qualify. To date, he hasn't regularly recruited blue-chip prospects; more often, his players are unheralded workers who develop throughout their multiyear careers. Texas A&M plays a slow, deliberate style. Turgeon's news-conference demeanor can be rather like his teams: quiet, sparse and even downright boring.

To be clear, those aren't bugs or features. That's just who Turgeon is.

The important thing here, the one that really matters, is this: At the bottom of it all, Maryland fans are like any others. They want to win basketball games. Mark Turgeon wins basketball games, and he's done so at places with far fewer institutional advantages than Maryland. It's really that simple.

So a new era begins in College Park -- not with a bang, necessarily, but certainly not with a whimper. Maryland fans can be forgiven if they need a moment to get to know Turgeon, but the more they see of him, the more they'll grow to appreciate the coach's clinical solidity and drama-free approach. They'll appreciate Anderson's efforts in making this hire.

More than anything else, though, they'll appreciate the wins. The rest is only so much noise.



You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?


Fitzsimmons and Durrett: OSU scandal

Part 2 of the articles on OSU's involvment in academic fraud was released. Some claim the expose is unfounded. Ian and Richard warn that there are two sides to all stories.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Longhorns talk

Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mack Brown, Manny Diaz and all the latest with the Texas Longhorns.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Barkley on Manziel

Fitzsimmons and Durrett give you the latest on the Johnny Manziel story and Charles Barkley weighs in. You won't believe who the outspoken NBA Hall of Famer is disappointed in and what he thinks about the autograph allegations.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Kirk Herbstreit

Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett for his weekly visit to preview the 2013 college football season.

Fitzsimmons & Durrett: Andy Dalton

Former TCU and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the expectations for the Bengals this season, give a prediction for the TCU-LSU game and talk about what it's like having the Hard Knocks cameras follow him.

Galloway and Company: Manziel talk

Randy Galloway, Matt Mosley, and Mark Friedman react to Dez Bryant's comments regarding the NCAA's ongoing investigation of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dez Bryant sounds off

Richard Durrett, Ian Fitzsimmons and Glenn "Stretch" Smith react to Dez Bryant sounding off yesterday after practice about Johnny Manziel and the shadiness of the NCAA.

Fitzsimmons and Durrett: Dan Beebe

Former NCAA investigator and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to weigh in on the Johnny Manziel drama and give some insight as to what goes on during an NCAA investigation.