Go Figger! Austin Peay Names Matt Figger Head Coach

Monday evening Austin Peay named Matt Figger Head Coach of their men’s basketball program.  Tuesday afternoon, Figger joined 104.5 FM The Zone in Nashville to talk about his next challenge.

The following quotes are exclusively from that interview.

South Carolina Assistant Coach Matt Figger helped Frank Martin’s South Carolina Gamecocks advance to the 2017 Final Four.

On Final Four run

You know, fellows…it starts back with our team last year.  I felt like we were a deserving NCAA Tournament team.  We finished third in the SEC last year.  MORE

We had 11-7 record.  You could argue we finished second place in the SEC last year.  The disappointment that I had seen in that locker room from all the returning players that had done so many things for the university.  It was disappointing at the time, but it was also motivational for these guys.

What got lost was how good the SEC was.  That was what got lost. People didn’t get how good Vandy was.  People didn’t realize how good Florida was, how good Alabama was.  How good Ole Miss was. Everybody things of Kentucky.  But the league is now…really good.

On Traveling to NCAA venues and splicing in trips to Clarksville

It has been a crazy ride.  I took time out of the schedule to pursue my dream, but when it was time to be with the team, as far as the everyday deal, that was my own focus.  If God allows certain things to happen in my life he allows it to happen for a reason.

I am just blessed that he lead me to Austin Peay.  That is the whole deal.  Austin Peay, you know growing up in Kentucky, has a great tradition.  Think about it.  I am just the 12th guy to be named the basketball coach here.

I know about Kelly’s, Fly Wilson, and Dave Loos being there 27 years.  All those things were really intriguing to me.

I wasn’t looking to be a head coach just to get my name on a business card.  I had a great job at South Carolina.  But, as an assistant coach if you are in this business your ultimate goal is to be a head coach.

on Athletic Director Ryan Ivey

I was like, this is a guy I really like.  When I got on campus and met Dr. White I was sold.  That was the biggest thing for me.  The vision.  The fact that you have two people in place that want to do the right thing.  that I was sold on.  I was sold on where the university wants to go.  And then the third thing was I had to make sure my wife was on board.  And here we are now.  We are ready to rock’n’roll.

On Frank Martin (Editor’s Note: Much of this section is absent)

Frank and I worked inaugural camps at the University of Florida.  We hit it off right away.  That was 1995.

He and I just looked at each other, ‘You know what? What a disgrace to let us two mutts in the Final Four?’

As soon as he got that job at Kansas State…it only took one phone call and I was there.

We had the second most wins in the Big 12 in that five-year span beyond Kansas University.  That was a whole different animal.  We took over a team in South Carolina that was in last place in the SEC.  The leading scorer was graduating.

What did you learn from Frank Martin?

I think, being yourself is #1.  Being who you are.  I think that accountability…that is the one thing that is great about Frank, holding everybody accountable including himself.  And then consistency.  Do things in your life consistently.  If you are consistent with who you are, your kids will understand that.  And you teach them how to work every single day, Monday through Sunday.  That has been our motto at both places.  You have to be an everyday guy.  You have to be an everyday dude.

That is the biggest thing I have taken from (Frank Martin).

Impacting young guy’s lives.  Wins and losses take care of themselves, but helping young men becoming grown men. Those are things I hope to bring to Austin Peay.

I want to impact young men’s lives.  I want to help them become parents.  Fathers.  Not only to keep a job.  It is easy to get a job.  A lot of people get jobs.  To be able to keep a job and be promoted along the way is another thing.  That is a bigger scheme of life.  I know Coach Loos has been a legend.  That speaks highly of Clarksville and Coach Loos.  Coach Loos was very happy there and you don’t see that in this day and age and in this society.

PINCH YOURSELF MOMENT

My biggest thing was to remove all the emotion of the game.  I was telling the other coaches, ‘It is kind of the Norman Dale speech, where he went up there and measured the basket at Hinkel Fieldhouse.’

I am a huge old-time WWE fan and that was one of those moments.  Like you are walking out in front of all those people.  The national anthem plays and you see all those people.  As soon as that happens you have to take all of that out of it.  When you do everything on too high of emotion you tend to make mistakes.

on Dave Loos

Here is the great thing. I haven’t gotten to speak to Coach Loos yet and I plan on doing so, but I have talked to his son because he coached at Missouri.  His son is an unbelievable guy.  They have had to deal with some family issues that breaks my heart.  The way he carried himself as a professional blew my mind because I have no idea how I would handle that as a father.   How Coach Loos dealt with that, from afar was incredible.  The admiration I have for Coach Loos is incredible.  I want to honor him as much as I can possibly do.  He can come to practice every single day, and know that the legwork, the race he just ran at Austin Peay is in good hands.

I want to pick his brain for advice.  I want to ask him, ‘Coach I want to know if this is going to work?’

On Austin Peay FB Coach

Will is awesome.  He is a ball of fire.  It is a different element.  He is trying to sell hope.  I am selling tradition and what Coach Loos has built.  Will sells hope.  The way he attacks things just makes me excited.

On delaying the announcement

I have never believe on taking on another job, until my job is finished.  I owed it to those kids I recruited. I owed to a guy who has been my boss for 10 years and my best friend for over 20.

Now that is journey is over and I am ready to tackle my new journey.  And that is coaching the Austin Peay Governors.

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