When the news broke that Boston College had hired Earl Grant as its next head men’s basketball coach, there was a pretty universal reaction: Who?
It is fair to say that the move drew a fair bit of criticism and confusion. Grant comes from the College of Charleston which is not well known for its basketball program or its athletic programs in general (at least around Massachusetts) and the Colonial Athletic Association is far from a Power 5 conference. Some think this hiring, just two days after Selection Sunday, was made too quickly. These are just understandable but knee-jerk reactions and should not condemn the new hire. Are they unjust concerns? Not at all, but taking a closer look it isn’t hard to see what Pat Kraft saw in Earl Grant
During his seven seasons as the head coach of Charleston, Earl Grant took the Cougars to one March Madness berth as well as an NIT appearance. Prior to that tournament appearance, Charleston had been in the midst of a twenty year tournament drought; BC’s drought now stands at twelve years. In Grant’s last five years, the Cougars always placed 4th or better in the CAA. Clearly, Grant knows how to build a winning program even if it was a program in a smaller conference.
Grant appears to fit into the mold of a young coach who is a grinder and out to prove himself. Perhaps this kind of underdog mentality will win players and get them to buy in to his new program. In his introductory press conference, Grant talked about recruiting “diamonds in the rough, guys with a chip on their shoulder,” and one has to assume this reflects the coach’s own mantra. Grant emphasized defense, rebounding, and ball control as the keystones of any team he coaches; all three are things that BC struggled with this past season and previously.
Considering the staleness that seemed to be hanging about the program over the past few years, personality could be just as important to Pat Kraft and BC as pedigree. Jim Christian had a winning pedigree when he came to BC and clearly that wasn’t enough to get the job done. It is going to take a lot of work to build the men’s basketball program into a competitive ACC program and Grant definitely tried to demonstrate in his press conference that he is up to the task. Do press conferences win championships? No, but a polished resume isn’t a guarantee either.
There are plenty of question to be answered about the Eagles’ new coach but just because there are questions doesn’t mean Grant should be written off as a bad hire on his first day. It just means that we have to wait and see. After all, Jim Harbaugh was considered the perfect hire when Michigan brought him in to be their football coach and, despite seeming to check every box, five years later fans are still mixed about whether they should bring him back. No coach is going to make BC an ACC champion overnight; it is going to be a process.
The saying is cliche for a reason but...Rome wasn’t built in a day...or with a resume.