IN HIS OWN WORDS | David Padgett's farewell news conference - WDRB 41 Louisville News

IN HIS OWN WORDS | David Padgett's farewell news conference

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford WDRB photo by Eric Crawford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville interim basketball coach David Padgett met with reporters after the announcement that he would not be retained as coach for next season. Padgett's remarks follow:

OPENING STATEMENT

There’s a lot of people I need to thank, first and foremost, who have done a lot over these six months, first and foremost being my wife, Megan, she’s been an absolute soldier. It was tough enough being an assistant coach’s wife, now she gets thrust into this and couldn’t have handled it any better, so obviously, very, very lucky to have her. They say behind every good man is a great woman. That’s very true with me.

Families on both sides have been very supportive. We’ve had some personal struggles with deaths in the families that we’ve had to deal with, and they’ve been absolutely incredible as well, so I need to thank them.

Then my players. I’ve said it dozens of times, the way they’ve handled this, the way they’ve made this fun for me, is something I’ll always remember and I’ll always treasure. It’s a group of 14 players that I’ll have a special place in my heart for a long, long time.

Obviously I need to thank Dr. Postel for giving me the opportunity. He certainly didn’t have to. He allowed me to step into this role and do the best I could, so there’s no question he deserves some thanks.

And a guy that I mentioned, I think at my tipoff luncheon, that was very, very instrumental not only in the beginning but throughout the whole thing was Kenny Klein. For a while there it was pretty uncharted territory for a lot of us, and his guidance and his friendship, more than anything, has been absolutely awesome, so Kenny deserves a big thanks.

And my staff. Obviously we had some guys who we were all here together and knew how this place works so we were able to hit the ground running, and I was fortunate to bring in two guys in Trent (Johnson) and Greg (Paulus) who couldn’t have done a better job. If I had expectations at a certain level, they always exceeded them. Our staff chemistry is as good as any I’ve ever been around and made things so much easier on a daily basis. We had a lot of fun, we really did.

One person I do need to think is Coach Pitino. Not only playing for him but working for him, he taught me a lot. He taught me how to do things on a daily basis the right way, how to do things in the best interests of the players, and I tried to keep that true. I told myself from Day 1 till last night, there’s three things I always wanted to do: I wanted to be honest with the players, I wanted to be myself, and I wanted to do what was right by them. And that’s what I tried to hold true to, and I feel like I did that to the best of my abilities. I know coach Pitino was instrumental in instilling a lot of that in me.

I do need to thank you guys as well, and the media people who aren’t here. I didn’t read hardly anything that was written all year because I was given good advice to just be a ghost on the internet, and I tried to hold true to that, so if you guys didn’t write nice things about me, then I don’t thank you. No, you guys have been very good to me all year. I have friendships with a lot of you in here and I hope that continues.

The last people I need to thank, without a doubt, are the fans. The amount of support and admiration they’ve showed all year, not only to me but to the players, was incredible. I think just seeing the turnout for NIT games alone shows what this program is all about. It’s what makes Louisville Louisville. And I know moving forward that fan support will continue for this team and the program moving forward. So the fans deserve a big hand and a lot of recognition. So with that being said, I guess I’ve got to focus on what’s next for me and right now I don’t have an answer for that. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, and see what’s what. I went home last night and had more than one glass of wine, I’m not going to lie, trying to reflect on what the last six months were all about, and like I said, it was a great experience.

Q: When you looked back on the season, what stood out the most?

PADGETT: Really it was just a learning experience. From a personal standpoint, from a professional standpoint, from a coaching standpoint, for a lot of reasons. When I took this over and stepped into this, I asked myself, how am I going to do? And I didn’t give myself expectations and I didn’t give the team expectations, but having never done something before, you’re always going to say, how am I going to do, doing it for the first time? And, you know, all things considered, I think it went really, really well. Did I learn a lot? Of course I did. Did I learn when I need to use timeouts better, yes, to substitutions, to all kinds of stuff. But that’s part of the learning process. But even the greats, I’m sure if you asked Coach K right now, he’s still learning stuff on a daily basis, after however many years he’s been doing it. You’re always going to be learning. More than anything, I learned that I have the confidence to know that I can do this moving forward. And I hope somebody out there will give me a chance to be a head coach somewhere else, because it’s something I really want to do. I want to be in this profession for a long time. It’s something that I really enjoy. I know, having gone through this, if I was able to be fairly successful this year, I can do that at another place, and try to take over another program and make it successful as well.

Q: What was your conversation with Vince, and did you have any expectation that you would be retained.

PADGETT: Obviously, I’d love to be the head coach here for the rest of my life, that’s how important this place is to me. But like I said a few weeks ago, I don’t live in a fairy tale world. I’m not on social media, not on Twitter or anything like that, but I don’t live in a bubble. I know the chatter about what was going on. So it wasn’t a surprise. It’s one of those things that you know the day is coming, but it doesn’t change the fact that when it’s there, it’s a weird feeling. It’s not a feeling of sadness or anything like that. The circumstances and the situation that we dealt with this year were like none other that have ever happened in college basketball. College sports, for that matter. We just tried to deal with it the best we could and I think we handled it really, really well. The staff deserves a ton of credit for that and so do the players. Like I said, you know it’s coming; until you actually hear it, it’s hard to set in. But I’m going to walk out of this room and hold my head high, because I gave this program and these players every, single ounce of energy that I had, and they did the same in return. For them to be able to conduct themselves the way they did, makes me feel like I did things the right way.

Q: Were you given any reason?

PADGETT: There wasn’t a reason. It just was they feel like it’s in their best interests to move forward. And I understand this profession. I’m 33 years old, but I’ve been in a gym since the day I was born and I understand what this profession is all about. It wasn’t a situation where I was like, ‘’Oh my God I can’t believe they’re not keeping me. What do I have to do here?” It wasn’t like that. I ‘m not the smartest guy in the world but I understand how this whole thing works. It was pretty cut-and-dried. I wanted to make sure more than anything, because my contract as a head coach was a little bit different but I wanted to make sure the staff was taken care of as best they could be. If I had been here for 10 years and we just didn’t win enough and I get fired, well, I understand how that works. A new coaching staff comes in, they clean house, the whole nine yards. But this situation was so different this year, because of the obvious. And I wanted to make sure the staff and the players were taken care of, first and foremost, so that was my main concern and I wanted to make sure that point was gotten across.

Q: Did you already meet with players?

PADGETT: I did, I went straight over to the dorm, with campus being closed today and the snow I didn’t want to bring them over here. I just went over to the dorm, and you can ask them if you get the chance, but I don’t think anyone was overly surprised. We have a great relationship, the 14 players and myself. I just wanted them to hear it from me. That’s a big thing with me, especially with social media these days, is hearing it from the horse’s mouth. I just said if you guys need anything, don’t ever hesitate. I just thought it was very, very important to hear it from me.

Q: You obviously wanted the job. Was there a point in the season when you realized it wasn’t going to happen.

PADGETT: No. I don’t think so. Not making the tournament, I think. I don’t think you could say, if you guys made the tournament you would’ve had the chance. I don’t think you can play that game, and there’s no point in playing that game. I told Vince, I don’t have any regrets about how anything went this year, the one regret I will have is that I didn’t get these seniors a chance to play in the tournament. That’s the one regret I have. Other than that, it was an up and down year. We had some unbelievable times together. We had some really, really, really good wins. I’ll never forget the Gatorade shower I got in South Bend. It was the first time we’d won up there in a while. And like I said, it was an experience that I’ll always remember for the rest of my life, and really cherish, with these 14 guys.

Q: Given the circumstances surrounding the program, what does the next head coach need to be prepared for?

PADGETT: I think what the next head coach needs to do is come in here and look out for the players, first and foremost. Which I sure they will do. Anybody who comes in here, whoever it may be, is going to understand how important basketball is to this city and this university, and how special this place is. There are circumstances that have been around this program for a couple of years, there are circumstances at lots of other programs in the country. It’s an interesting time in college basketball. Whoever it is that they decide to bring in, obviously I’ll wish nothing but the best of luck. I was upstairs 30 minutes ago and I took a shower and I thought, what do I wear? Technically I’m not really working here anymore, but I don’t have anything that doesn’t have U of L on it. I’ll always wear U of L stuff with extreme pride, because I played here and went to school here and worked here. This place is very, very special, and whoever has a chance to lead it moving forward I hope they can appreciate that.

Q: Do you think you can only be a head coach from here on? Do you think you could be an assistant?

PADGETT: Well in this profession it’s all about options. Obviously, I want to continue to be a head coach. Now, if I don’t have an option to be and I have an option to be an assistant somewhere that’s a great school, that’s something I’ll have to think about. You don’t want to be left, when the music stops, without a chair, for lack of a better cliché. My goal in this was to be a head coach. Obviously it happened sooner and in a much different way than I anticipated. But that’s my goal, and I hope that I’ve done enough this year to show some people out there that I can certainly do it and I hope another opportunity comes about. 

Q: Have you started that process yet?

PADGETT: In the last 16 hours I’ve obviously put a lot more thought into it. In this profession you’ve got to get the dominos to start to fall. They have a little bit, but I think they will over the next couple of weeks. Around the Final Four is when a lot of stuff goes down. You’ve just got to switch your mind track from coaching one basketball team to trying to find another one to coach. A lot of time and effort will be spent on that, and hopefully like I said something will pop its head up and give an opportunity.

Q: When were you told?

PADGETT: Just today at 1 o’clock.

Q: Does what you have gone through with family put into perspective the season and some of the bad times?

PADGETT: I don’t think this is bad. I would disagree with you on that. I knew this was going to e a one-year deal. I signed a one-year contract. Unless we did something magical, it probably was going to be a little bit of a longshot to retain this. But that wasn’t my interest from Day One and it never has been. With that being said, it’s all about perspective in life to me. I had two very close family members pass away in the past couple of months. As important as basketball is to this place, and as important as this place is to me, it’s not life or death. And if somebody says it is, then they’re mistaken and they just don’t get it. There’s  a reason I wear these two bracelets on my wrists and I never take them off and I probably never will. It’s all about family and at the end of the day if you don’t have family you don’t have a whole lot.

Q: Have you considered hiring an agent?

PADGETT: It’s something I never considered as an assistant coach, and as the season went on. I sat down with Trent because he has the most coaching experience and he said, if you’re going to be a head coach, you’re going to have to get one. So it’s necessary in the profession. What I’ve found out even as an assistant coach it’s become more commonplace but especially as a head coach it’s necessary. I’m not a guy who is going to go out and promote myself, that’s just not who I am. So I’ll have to have someone go out and do that for me.

Q: What kind of wine?

PADGETT: Cabernet. Going to have to go to Total Wine and stock up tonight.

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