UTC's McCall more like Donovan than 'Wade 2.0'

UTC's McCall more like Donovan than 'Wade 2.0'

April 14th, 2015 by David Paschall in Sports - College

Matt McCall speaks during a news conference announcing him as the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's new head men's basketball coach while at the UTC University Center on Monday, April 14, 2015.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

New University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coach Matt McCall was introduced on campus Monday and was a guest a few hours later on "Press Row" on ESPN 105.1 FM.

McCall, a former assistant at Florida under Billy Donovan, replaces Will Wade, who left last week for VCU.

Q: How much did you know about UTC two weeks ago?

A: "I had a chance to watch them on film throughout the course of the year. They played against Georgia, which was a team I scouted, and they played against Wisconsin, which was another team I scouted. I have known Coach Wade for several years dating back to when he worked for Coach (Larry) Shyatt at Clemson, and I worked with Coach Shyatt at Florida when we won the national championship.

"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach Wade and the job he was doing here."

Q: You've been referred to by some as "Will Wade 2.0." Is that accurate?

A: "There are similarities, and people will want to point to those, but a lot of the things I'm going to do as a head coach I'm going to model after who I think is the best coach in the country, and that's Billy Donovan. The way we're going to play and the way we're going to press and the style of play through pick-and-rolls and things like that, I don't know if that's the same style as Coach Wade or not.

"I'm not saying my way is going to be any better. I'm just saying it's going to be different. It's going to be my spin on things."

Q: What will be your message to the current players to make sure they're on board?

A: "The players who are in the program are the most important things to me right now, as well as the signees, because I'm sure their world has been rocked by this change, too. I want everyone to feel as comfortable as possible. That does not mean I'm going to be fake, but the relationship piece to me is the most important piece."

Q: Why do you think you got this job?

A: "During the interview, I never felt like I was in an interview. I think (UTC athletic director) David Blackburn and his staff did an unbelievable job of making me feel welcome, and that was very, very appealing. He did his background work on me. He talked with Coach Donovan and (Florida AD) Jeremy Foley, and I think at one point he even talked to Steve Spurrier.

"The interview part was really getting to know him and his staff."

Q: Will you use your recruiting ties in Florida and add some Sunshine State players to the UTC roster?

A: "I think we could. Florida is loaded with talent for the mid-major and mid-major-plus level. When I was an assistant at Florida Atlantic, we built our roster around kids from the state of Florida and three years later won the Sun Belt Conference championship. Right now, I need to do a good job in this state and get to know some of the heavy hitters and get to know guys who always have players in their programs.

"We need to take care of Tennessee, but I think you could see some Florida guys jumping on the roster soon."

Q: Your dad was a linebacker at Florida during the 1960s. When did you pick basketball as your sport?

A: "My father never pushed me to play football. He wanted me to write my own story and take my own path. I knew at a young age that I wanted to coach, and I loved the bounce of that ball. My mother and father have supported me every step of the way."

Q: Turning to our rapid fire, as a lifelong Florida fan, which team, be it football or basketball, do you enjoy beating the most?

A: "Kentucky, 100 percent."

Q: Who was the greatest hire in Florida history, Steve Spurrier or Billy Donovan?

A: "You cannot put me on the spot like that. I've got to go with Billy Donovan because he paid my paycheck for a while."

Q: If you're recruiting Neon Boudeaux (from "Blue Chips") or Jimmy Chitwood (from "Hoosiers"), who gets your first call?

A: "Neon. No question."

Q: The Purple Porpoise, friend or foe?

A: "When I was in school, it changed to Gator City. I'm not going to lie. I was a friend."

Q: Do you own a pair of jean shorts?

A: "I do not, nor have I ever."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.