Buzz Williams Intro.
Buzz Press Conference
Sit-down audio
Savion Flagg
TJ Starks
Texas A&M Basketball

WATCH: Texas A&M introduces Buzz Williams as head basketball coach

April 4, 2019
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The following are paraphrased notes taken live during the the press conferences introducing Buzz Williams as Texas A&M men’s basketball coach on Thursday. There were three separate settings where Buzz spoke – the welcome event and two different press availabilities. 

Welcome Event:

• Scott Woodward enters to cheers, and Andrew Monaco is at the podium to start the event.

• In Reed we also have the A&M team, Hullabaloo, dance team, and some Reed Rowdies forming an entry tunnel of sorts as we await Buzz’s entrance.

• Monaco emphasizing Buzz’s Texas and A&M roots during his introduction and talking about what a great fit he is before giving his resume.

• Video intro is rolling.

• Buzz and his family enter together...slowly as Buzz shakes hands with as many Reed Rowdies and yell leaders as possible on his way in.

• Buzz stops and pulls out a full whoop as soon as he hits the stage.

• Chairman of the Board of Regents Charles W. Schwartz is at the podium and makes the first “buzz in the air” joke. It goes over about as you’d expect.

• Buzz waving at his nephews and niece from the stage. 

• Schwartz says Buzz’s contract will be approved by regents next week and notes that he can’t speak for the other regents but that he promises Buzz at least one vote. 

• Schwartz makes two more buzz puns. 

• Next up is emerging Aggie folk hero Scott Woodward.

• Woodward gets some walk-up music, though I couldn’t tell you what it was. 

Woodward:

• It’s an exciting day for Texas A&M basketball. What attracted me to A&M was greatness. Today we welcome someone who understands seizing that opportunity. He elevated the Virginia Tech program to historic levels. 

• It’s time to continue building champions here and for coach Buzz Williams to get it done.

• This is the right coach at the right time for Texas A&M.

Buzz Williams:

• Howdy!

• I probably need to use the (handheld mic). If I use the podium mic I’ll be more nervous than I already am.

• I never thought this was going to happen, so there are a lot of emotions.

• I want to thank the Chancellor, President Young, and especially Mr. Woodward. This has happened really fast, and it was more than a dream come true. For their support and belief in how we’re going to do things on and off the floor, I’m grateful.

• If you know anything about me, my family is the most important thing to me. My youngest son was born in College Station.

• Acie hit the shot about right there (points).

• (Jokes about mic issues.) Officials say I have a hard time staying in the box, so maybe this (using the stationary mic) will be a good rep.

• I want to thank and honor the people at Virginia Tech. Year one we were 2-16 (in the ACC) and this year we were in the Sweet Sixteen.

• Our program will always be about our players. It was most important to me that the first people I saw in College Station were our current players. 

• When we got done with the players, we walked around, and the place has changed dramatically since I was here. All that was here was Reed Arena. There was nothing else surronding Reed, so I was a little out of sorts with how it had changed. We walked around and I started seeing all the pictures of past teams. I saw Coach Blair. He doesn’t look like he’s aged since I left. We kept going and we get to the two years I was an assistant. I see Coach G, Steve Forbes, Alvin Brooks, and as I’m looking at all of the players, ten of them from year one had already texted me before I landed in College Station. Acie Law, Joe Jones, Dominique Kirk...I can’t mention all of them. Then year two, arguably the beginning of the best years of Aggie basketball.

• It overwhelmed me because I’m a fan of coaches just as much as I’m a fan of players. I texted Coach Blair. I texted Coach Fisher and look forward to going over and seeing them. Seeing all of those former players and coaches, knowing that all of this is available to build from, it was overwhelming. I was incredibly grateful.

• So we kept walking and I was lost. We take the stairs, we see the weight room, we see the facility...none of which I’d ever seen. I’d seen the blueprint before I left. Seeing it all come to life is incredibly exciting.

• I want to be sure I say Coach Kennedy is a phenomenal coach and did an incredible job. I think he’s an even better person than a coach, and the last two Sweet Sixteen runs, he was in charge of. So they take me to the practice facility and we’re seeing all those appearances, I’m thinking about Coach (Kennedy) and all the kids and people who have been a part of those teams.

• This will be the third chance I’ve had the ability to be a head coach. I’ve learned everyone involved has a role - the band, the yell leaders. Whatever your role is, it matters, and we appreciate it.

• When I was a kid, I remember my parents who are here, always saying to me...all the things that they taught me. I was manager at a JUCO (Navarro), I was a manager for two years at an NAIA school in Oklahoma. I never thought this would be something that would be reality. You’ve heard the saying, “You can never go back home,” but it was always in the back of my mind that could maybe someday happen, so...Gig ‘em!

• Coach Orr (the coach from Navarro where Buzz started) is introduced. Buzz emotionally points out that only two people have been at all of his NCAA tournament games, his wife and Coach Orr.

• Buzz puts on the maroon blazer, and the band begins the War Hymn.

Video media press conference:

• Just incredibly honored, grateful, overwhelmed with good emotion. Hard to articulate it in the right way, but incredibly thankful for the opportunity for my family to be a part of Aggieland and all that comes with it. Very excited.

• Where’s Liucci? They told me you’ve just turned into a star around here. And then I saw Logan and he was like, “I work for Texas Ags” and I was like, “That’s Liucci, right?” (Yes, he said Texas Ags.)

• The things that Mr. Woodward visited with me about, we had great synergy from the beginning. Last night was the first time I’ve been back in College Station since the day I left to become the head coach at New Orleans. When we were driving in, I didn’t recognize any of this. And all of this has happened so fast. I think the vision that Scott has for the department, the decisions that he and his staff have made, I think Stephanie (Rempe) is a star, I’ve been with Justin (Moore) non-stop since they came and picked us up. Anytime there’s alignment from the top down, that’s always a great starting point and possibly the only chance you have when you have that alignment.

• I don’t think I did much when I was here as an assistant; that was mostly coach (Gillispie) and the players. But I look back at all I learned - largest power conference turnaround. The next year, 10-6 in the league, went to the NCAA Tournament. The only reason I had a chance to be a head coach at such a young age was because of what transpired in those years, and that was completely coach (Gillispie). Looking back at what transpired 13 years ago, those lessons have helped me since.

• Everybody’s important - that’s one thing that’s hard to quantify. The fans are really important, but I think the students are really important. That’s why I was late. I don’t ever want to say no to a student that loves the Aggies. The long-time season ticket holders are important. I don’t think things are bad. One of the things that we need is energy, passion. The fans are important, but that can come from everybody. I’m at the front of that line.

• I don’t want to ever have preconceived ideas on the talent on the roster, so I met with them last night. I think it was probably not the meeting they were anticipating. I thought that it went fine. They trained this morning. I watched them. We’re going to train again in the morning. What I want to do is build a relatinship with them built on trust, built on love, built on work. I like parts of what I see. I know there’s a lot of work ahead of us, not only with the current roster but future roster as well. My future staff has watched more film. I don’t want to build preconceived notions.

• My trajectory in my career is atypical in every sense of the word. There’s no way you could have ever predicted I could have had the opprotunities that I’ve had. I was hoping to one day be a good JV coach, maybe a Varsity coach, maybe a D3 coach. I don’t give out business cards; I give out quote cards. What I’ve learned is that the guys who have been the most helpful in building a program are the ones who have had an atypical career. The ones that are smarter than they act. The ones that have a bit of a chip. That have a loyalty that you don’t have to say you can see. What’s happened over the course of my career since I left here is my staff has grown from within. It’s been guys who were the managers, the GAs, the players. It’s like I saw Logan before, who’s marred to Katy - I remember you too - and has two kids, and I asked him how old he is, and he said 35 and I said, “Wow!” My staff is built on a lot of guys like that. I have some ideas. We’ve made some progress in the last 36 hours. It is not full. It won’t be full for a while. I’m slow in personnel decisions because I think the only way you can transform anything is by the character of the people. Good players never get knocked off their line. Good coaches can hold their line relative to their decision making.

• The guys who have been devleoped from within are always the best ones because they understand the culture. We’ll hit the ground running. Recruiting the state of Texas is very important, but it’s never more important than the best fit for our culture no matter where they’re from.

• [Buzz chokes up when asked about Billy Gillispie.] Coach Gillispie was the last call that I made before I got on the plane to come here. Coach means the world to me. If you look back on my career, it’s easy to say I wouldn’t have the career I have if not for coach. I was trying to call as many Virginia Tech players, the signees of Virginia Tech, I have thousands of texts I haven’t responded to, but coach was the last one, I called and said, “I just wanted to say thanks, and I’m flying home.” He’s a way better coach than I am. There are some similiarities in that we want to play hard, we want to care about one another. As a coach, I don’t know that I’m even in the same realm as he is, but I’m still trying real hard. 

• Change is hard. Yesterday was an incredibly difficult day while also being an exciting day. To say goodbye to everyone there and then literally eight hours later to say hello to everyone here in our program. It’s hard for me to say what will be the biggest change because I don’t want to come across as arrogant and because I have great respect for Coach Kennedy. But I think it will be a distinct change. You can read a lot of books that say the best way to change is incrementally, but I think the only way to change things so that we’ll have sustainability is to turn it upside down. I think there will be a process and the change in and of itself will be difficult.

• Every coach says they coach in the best league. The five years that we were a part of the ACC, the margin was so thin, and we had such a long way to go. They had finished in last place in consecutive years and we finished in last place in year one. From the outside looking in, maybe some of the mandates from the SEC, some of the changes they’ve made in scheduling, some of the decisions that administrations at the institutions have made, the league has changed a lot in the last three to five years. You look at the coaches and talent...there’s still a team playing, and you look at the changes there since coach Pearl was hired in 2014. It’s obviously been the best conference in football for a while, and I think it’s headed that way in basketball.

• (Asked about an Aggie fan who said, “He gets us” after the introductory speech...why would they think that?) Maybe this comes across the wrong way, but the one thing I would say is “I’m one of them.” I wasn’t smart enough to be admitted into Texas A&M. But Aggies, Aggieland, the traditions...I think all of that is super, super cool, and that’s part of the fabric of what this institution is and what it’s about. Justin (Moore) had his ring, Stephanie (Rempe) was explaining to me the hand posture for “whoop.” I understand how important work is to them. I understand how important telling the truth is. I understand how important being humble is. It just so happens I’m the head coach, but I could just as easily be one of them in the stands. So maybe they see themselves in me and vice versa.

• I think the foundation is in place. These facilities are as good as anywhere in the country. Scott is incredibly important and he understands what we need. This league speaks for itself. This state is heavily populated with really good players that have been coached at a really high level at a young age. All the ingredients to be playing in the first week of April are in place. And we need to get started. If you want to play, let’s keep score. If you’re going to keep score, let’s play against the best. And if you’re going to play against the best, let’s figure out a plan to compete with and beat the best.

Press conference for print/other media:

• I was a manager for Coach Orr when I was 17 and 18 at Navarro. I did not know him upon arrival. And just to have seen how things have played themselves out since 1990, I never imagined it. You never expect that when you’re a freshman in college that it would evolve and morph into what it is now.

• I was pretty choked up for all of it (today’s introduction). I was emotional.

• You cannot pinpoint one aspect of the program and say, “this is why they’re good.” It’s the same thing when you’re not good. It’s not a thousand percent the coach’s fault or a player’s fault. If there was one aspect that’s most important, it would be the character of the people throughout the program, and the efficiency. If you’re going to be good, it’s all day all the time. Your capacity to work needs to be at an elite level if you’re going to change things from bad to good.

• (After being told he didn’t talk much when he was here under Gillispie.) There wasn’t enough oxygen in the room for me to say anything (when I was here before). The first job that I had that didn’t have a hyphen or direction in the name of the school was Colorado State. As a young assistant I was a fan of coaches in any sport. I’ve studied Coach Fisher for a decade, not because I thought I was going to be the coach at A&M or that he was. I didn’t say anything when I was here (before). I tried to figure out how I could be good with the players, how I could help coach before he asked me, get things before they crossed his desk. I was the only person on staff who hadn’t been a head coach. Alvin Brooks, Steve Forbes (had been head coaches). I was the only assistant (who hadn’t), soaking things in. I’ve taken notes every day since my first day of college. I have an annual notebook for every month of my career. All the things I learned here is because I have two ears and one mouth.

• The four kids who signed in November were given their release prior to me being hired. As it relates to the NCAA rules, once they receive their release, they’re back on the market and treated like any 2019 recruit. It’s a dead period. I can’t see them. I have texted with and tried to arrange meeting with all of them, kids, parents, whether they’re going to come here or not. But obviously we need to sign a bunch, whether it’s them or others.

• I think the first team meeting was just longer than they expected. Whoever the best player is, you probably know better than I do. I gave them all the same forum to ask or talk about what they want. The meeting was not about me, but the meeting was about change is hard, but everyone has to tell the truth to build a trustful relationship. They trained early this morning. That wasn’t to punish them, it’s just that I need to be around them and interact with them. We have a lot of work to do in recruiting but also a lot of work to do with the kids who are staying.

• This is all bigger than I ever expected. There’s no other power five coach who was a JUCO manager. I think there was only one other coach who went to a JUCO. My paradigm was so small and this dream is so big.

• (On coming home to Texas) I have four children 17 years and younger and they’ve lived that (coach’s family) life. Whatever normal life is, driving to your grandparents’ house or whatever, they haven’t done that their whole life. That’s not why I took the job, but I do think that’s pretty cool. Maybe there can be some level of normalcy for my children while their dad is in a unique business. My dad and his wife are in Texas, my mom is here. 

• My wife is from Amarillo. Can you write this? She was player of the year in the state of Texas as a high school senior. She won the state championship as a senior, and she was MVP of the state tournament her senior year. One season I was an an assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville. Her last season of eligibility, she played there, and I met her in her last year of getting her degree there. 

• Tony Benford was on our staff at Marquette, was there four years. He is not employed at Texas A&M. He’s my friend, but he’s not here. (Q: You haven’t made any official hires?) No sir.

• I think I’m the only person from that staff that has not been back since we left. I’ve talked to Alvin Brooks, Steve Forbes...Forbes was here a couple of years ago and he said, “You wouldn’t believe how things have changed.” You can only make good decisions based on those relationships. I understand A&M better than many would, but I thought the vision Scott has for the program was the deciding vote. I’ve always made decisions on my instinct about the people that were making the decision to hire me.

• I know Coach Saban is known for “the process” so I try to not steal those words, but I think there’s value in how he says it. Whatever process is in your culture, it’s a daily thing. All of the ridicule that went into me going to Virginia Tech...we only won 11 games total. We were losing games that we “purchased.” Year two was the largest turnaround in the history of the ACC and we still lost a game we purchased. Year three went to the NCAA Tournament. It was the first time in 111 years that Virginia Tech had been to three consecutive NCAA Tournaments. It’s not about a five year plan, it’s about being accountable every day in our work.

• I want our program to be the number one total development program in the country. I don’t mean that just as a player, I mean it as a student, as a young man, as a person in all they’re going to become (that our program) allowed them to become who they’re going to be for the rest of their life.

• I can’t wait (to meet Coach Fisher). We’re supposed to take a picture tomorrow, and the guy who’s taking the picture, I told him, “Make sure I get a copy of it.”

• (On Mandel ranking Jimbo and Buzz the #2 football/basketball coach combination) Who was number one? (A: Michigan State) Hard to argue with those two. (I don’t know how to describe the conversation that ensued that led to Buzz speculating about Les Miles’ change in hair color and Scott Woodward’s no comment, but it was glorioius.)

• Football coaches are better leaders than basketball coaches, in my opinion. They have to manage a bigger operation. I love any coach - the swimming coach, the tennis coach - anybody I can learn from. I probably have more secret relationships with football coaches - Jon Gruden texted me last night, Gus Bradley is one of my closest friends. I’ve gotten just as many texts from football coaches as basketball coaches since I took the job.

 
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