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Cremins back to school with College of Charleston

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- When the College of Charleston's first
choice for basketball coach "pulled a Bobby Cremins," the Cougars
went after the real deal.

The school on Monday officially welcomed Cremins to guide the
troubled program. Cremins was thrilled to be back coaching the game
he loves.

"This is what I do best," said Cremins, who turns 59 Tuesday.
"This is my life."

Cremins hadn't coached since retiring after 19 seasons at
Georgia Tech in 2000. He figured he had missed out on this job,
too, when the school announced its deal last week with Winthrop's
Gregg Marshall.

But a day after Marshall's introduction on Charleston's campus,
he took a page from Cremins' past and went back to the Eagles.
Cremins 13 years ago reneged on the head coaching job at his alma
mater, South Carolina, to return to Georgia Tech.

"Obviously, I can empathize with Gregg," Cremins said to
laughter. On Sunday, Cremins had remarked that Marshall had
"pulled a Bobby Cremins."

Cremins' hiring caps a strange month at the College of
Charleston. It began June 14 with Tom Herrion's dismissal and
subsequent $787,000 buyout for the last four years of his contract,
followed by Marshall's hello and quick goodbye.

Cremins agreed to a six-year contract with a base salary of
$225,000. He is so ready to get started that he'll miss his 59th
birthday celebration on Hilton Head Island to organize his new
office, ex-College of Charleston coach John Kresse said.

Kresse, who like Cremins is from New York, was part of the
school's search committee that interviewed Cremins on Friday and
offered him the job soon after.

"Now more than ever," Cremins said, "my drive and enthusiasm
are back."

Fans, alumni and supporters turned out at Randolph Hall to
welcome Cremins. He got a loud standing ovation when he took the
podium, several times trying to quiet the crowd before they settled
down.

"It's great to be undefeated," he said.

Charleston made its mark in the 1990s under Kresse, going to
four NCAA Tournaments and knocking off big-time opponents like
Maryland, Alabama and Cremins' Yellow Jackets.

"I figured I had John's vote because I helped put John on the
map," Cremins said smiling.

Herrion won the Great Alaska Shootout and won 25 games his first
season succeeding Kresse in 2002-03. But the team's victory totals
fell in each of the next three seasons.

Charleston had hoped for a resurgence under Marshall, a Kresse
protege who has gone to six NCAA Tournaments in eight seasons at
Winthrop. Instead, the Cougars again went with a New York native
who found his success in the South.

Cremins twice won 20 games at Appalachian State before going to
Georgia Tech. With the Yellow Jackets, Cremins won three Atlantic
Coast Conference titles and lured future NBA stars John Salley,
Kenny Anderson and Stephon Marbury.

Cremins reached the Final Four in 1990. But in the decade after
that, the program slipped and Cremins had three losing seasons in
his last four years.

Cremins always thought he'd get another coaching job. But he
enjoyed working as a TV analyst and, despite other offers, didn't
feel the fit necessary for success.

He finally felt his old basketball coaching spirit rise up the
past month. "You can tell he is consumed and energized," Kresse
said.

When the offer came, Cremins jumped. "I didn't want to look at
the ocean the next 20 years of my life," he said.

A few Charleston players turned out to greet their new coach.
Senior Renardo Dickerson said he and his teammates were thankful
the monthlong saga was over. "There was a lot of uncertainty,"
Dickerson said. "Everybody has to do what's best for them, but I
expect everybody to come back."

Cremins hopes to field a smart club that looks to push the ball
and get easy baskets. He promised to work as hard as he ever has to
get it done.

"I can't wait," he said. "I feel like I'm getting a second
chance at 59."