Not even Mark Turgeon's wife had anticipated he was ready to leave Texas A&M to become Maryland's next men's basketball coach. Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson had moved on in his coaching search, believing Turgeon wasn't interested.
But there the newly hired Turgeon was Wednesday, wearing a tie he hoped approximated Maryland red and convincing administrators, boosters and the media Wednesday that, yes, he's thrilled to succeed Gary Williams in coaching the Terps. Yes, he can't wait to play against his mentor, North Carolina coach Roy Williams. Yes, he plans to "recruit like crazy" and "do some great things."
"Gary Williams was Maryland basketball," Turgeon said. "And I hope 15 years from now, 20 years, however long this lasts, that you're going to say Mark Turgeon was Maryland basketball."
Turgeon, 46, had been one of Anderson's earliest targets. Anderson had reached out to the Aggies' coach last Friday — the day of Gary Williams' retirement ceremony — to gauge his interest.
When Anderson didn't soon hear back, he moved on in his search. "We didn't hear from him until Sunday and I definitely wasn't going to wait until Sunday," the athletic director said in an interview after Turgeon was introduced. "See, I didn't think he had an interest."
What Anderson didn't know is that Turgeon was on a camping trip in the mountains of Pennsylvania and out of cell phone range Friday and for much of the weekend. Fortunately for Turgeon, Anderson and Arizona coach Sean Miller did not reach agreement during a meeting in a Las Vegas hotel room Saturday. That cleared the way for Turgeon and Anderson to meet at a Pittsburgh hotel.
Unbeknownst to Anderson, Turgeon had been immediately excited about the Maryland job when he learned of Williams' retirement Thursday night.
Turgeon, a former Kansas point guard and disciple of both Larry Brown and Roy Williams, had been courted before. Oregon made overtures last year. Turgeon's wife, Ann — already wearing a gold turtle pin at his introductory news conference at Comcast Center — said he she did not initially believe he would take this job, either.
"I really didn't think it would happen," she said in an interview. "I thought he would come home and say, 'Not this time.' And he said, 'I have a fire in my belly.' And I said, 'Uh oh, I think that means we're moving.' There it was."
If Ann Turgeon knows anything about her husband, it's that he loves challenges. "He's competitive to a fault, unfortunately. Sometimes he can't drop it. I beat him a couple times in backgammon when we were first married and now he won't play me anymore. If that's his biggest fault, then that's a good thing. "
Turgeon — who took the Aggies to four straight NCAA tournaments — was introduced in a room overlooking the basketball court. University president Wallace Loh, boosters, media and current and former players attended.
Terms of hos contract were not disclosed.
Turgeon said he was not apprehensive about succeeding Williams despite Williams' legendary status at Maryland.
Williams, the the fifth-winningest active coach in Division I, was not part of the ceremony. He said he plans to keep a low profile to allow Turgeon space.
But Turgeon said he spoke to Williams at length "and he made me feel comfortable. And I know Gary is not going to try to sabotage Maryland basketball."
The "sabotage" line got the biggest applause of the day. It was a reference to accusations by N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow — Williams' former Maryland boss — that Williams tried to sabotage her basketball coaching search that ended with Mark Gottfried becoming Wolfpack coach.
Turgeon also said at the news conference:
• He has not yet finalized his staff. "I need to have a staff that has ties in this area up and down the East Coast."
• He hopes to keep Maryland's incoming, three-member recruiting class intact. As of late Wednesday afternoon, coaches were still talking with the families of leading recruits Nick Faust (City) and Sterling Gibbs over their status.
• His style depends on his players. "I'm an adaptive coach. My style of play? Winning."