Trent Johnson hired at TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU formally introduced Trent Johnson as the school's new men's basketball coach Monday.
The former LSU coach replaces Jim Christian, who was hired last Tuesday by Ohio University. Sources say Johnson's new contract is for six years with a base salary of $1.5 million, plus incentives.
Johnson, 55, was 67-64 in four seasons at LSU and coached Nevada and Stanford to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament during his tenures there.
"I can't express to you how excited I am about the challenge that's in front of us," Johnson said. "The challenge is one we're all going to have to do together."
His mission in Fort Worth will be to try to return TCU to the NCAA tournament as the school enters the Big 12 this summer. The Horned Frogs haven't played in the tournament since 1998, when Billy Tubbs was the coach. That team earned a No. 5 seed and fell in the first round to Florida State.
"You know what it tastes like to be in the tournament," TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said as he shook Johnson's hand at the podium. "We want you to take us there."
Johnson said the move to TCU was about wanting a challenge and being in a comfortable spot.
"We're going to work our tails off to get this thing to an elite level in a hurry," Johnson said.
Johnson won the SEC regular-season championship in his first season at LSU in 2008-09 and went to the NCAA tournament with a team filled with seniors. He was named the SEC coach of the year for his efforts. In the following two seasons, Johnson was 22-41 combined with five SEC wins as he worked to rebuild the talent base. Last season, LSU improved to 18-15 and made it to the NIT.
"We wanted someone battled-tested, that had built programs from the ground up," Del Conte said. "We wanted someone who knew how to recruit great student athletes."
He enjoyed his time at Stanford, his previous stop before LSU. Johnson was an assistant coach with the Cardinal from 1996 to 1999 and then the head coach for four seasons, making the NCAA tournament three times and won two games in the 2008 tourney as a No. 3 seed. He was named Pac-10 coach of the year that season.
Johnson got the opportunity to return to Stanford because of what he did at Nevada. He built up the Wolf Pack program during his five years on the job, going to the NCAA tournament's round of 16 in the 2003-04 season, tying a school record with 25 wins. Nevada beat Michigan State and Gonzaga in the tournament before falling to Georgia Tech. Nevada won the WAC regular-season and tournament titles for the first time in school history.
LSU announced that Johnson had resigned from his job on Sunday.
"Sometimes coaching changes work out well for all parties involved, and we will take this opportunity to seek out the best coach for the long-term future of LSU men's basketball," LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said on the school's website. "We will move quickly but deliberately to find a coach who will lead our program with integrity and discipline, someone who will recruit effectively in order to build championship teams while inspiring success in academics, and someone who will energize our fan base. I wish Trent all the best in his new job."
Christian led TCU to its first winning season since 2004-05. They were 18-15 and lost in the second round of the College Basketball Invitational tournament. Christian was 56-73 in four seasons in Fort Worth.