New Penn State coach Pat Chambers has been called a lot of things. Young. Energetic. Media-savvy. For all of those reasons, he's a quality hire for Penn State, a school that desperately needs to kick some life into its men's basketball program.
Whether Chambers can do that on the floor remains to be seen. What is now a near certainty is that the former Boston University coach will thrive in the wider, more intense media spotlight. He was impressive at his introductory news conference -- he "won" the presser, to use a bit of nonsensical parlance -- and his quotes since have highlighted his strong preparation and, more than anything, his force of personality.
If this sounds gushing, well, don't take my word for it. Simply let the following bits -- as told to the Sporting News -- wash over you.
What about Penn State's infamous Bon Jovi situation? What does that say about the program Chambers inherited?
“When it comes to practicing, I could practice outdoors, as long as we have a basketball and a hoop that’s 10 feet high,” Chambers said. “I’m a team player. If Bon Jovi is here, I’m going to go see him myself.”
That one's good enough, but then there's the coup de grace. Why did Chambers get into coaching? Because he got stabbed, dude. Seriously:
In 2002, Chambers was working in sales and administration for his family’s printing business and doing well financially. He coached high school basketball on the side, at Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, where he’d played in the late 1980s. “My hobby,” is how he views that experience now.
He was a single man out on the town one autumn night when he ran into a woman he knew from high school and two friends of hers, a married couple. Soon afterward, the husband attacked Chambers, stabbing him twice in the neck with a broken wine glass. Chambers has said he believes the man was either drunk or high or both and suspected Chambers was hitting on his wife.
“That’s when I said, ‘That’s it. I’m done.’ I was close to death, so I’m going to go do what I want to do,” Chambers said. “And what I wanted to do was go coach basketball.”
Ding ding ding! We have a winner. And not just a news conference "winner." No, Penn State's new coach just singlehandedly set what has to be the all-time high water mark for answers to the age-old question: "So, why did you get into coaching?" Note to the college coaches of America: Step your games up. "Forming boys into men through the power of sport" isn't going to cut it anymore.
Oh, and guess what, Penn State fans? The onus is on you now, too. If you can't get excited about stuff like this, then you can't get excited about your college basketball team. Fact.