COLLEGE PARK -- Ask Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon how he feels, now close to four months away from his team’s opener in November, and you’ll get a relatively standard D.C.-area answer.
Facing the reality of no NCAA tournament appearances to his name at Maryland, five players transferring out of the program, five more freshmen and two transfers coming in, and a major conference move on the horizon, you’d think he’s running for re-election.
“I don’t think I’m on the hot seat. I disagree with that,” Turgeon told CSN, setting up for his politician-like zinger. “I say my seat’s on fire because so many good things are happening for us.”
It has become part of Turgeon’s stump speech. He said nearly the same thing to the Baltimore Sun earlier this week. With the move to the Big Ten imminent, the program is putting the final touches on the transition, including one final push for fan support.
The athletic department is presenting a unified front with just over two weeks to go until the game-changing July 1 crossover.
“Maryland’s a great job. I’m lucky to be the coach here. I understand that,” he said. “Every day I wake up, I thank the Lord that I’m the coach at Maryland. It’s a tremendous job. We’re going to do great things.
“I got a tremendous AD that believes in me and I got a group of fans -- the loyal ones -- that believe in what we’re doing.”
Turgeon is 59-43 in his three seasons at Maryland for a winning percentage of .579. That hovers closely to his all-time collegiate winning percentage of .605, but is well below what he accomplished in three seasons at Texas A&M (.708).
But for as much rollover as there has been, it’s difficult to say that Maryland is worse off now than it was one year ago today. And Turgeon alluded to that.
“We’ve got a lot of talent here and we continue to recruit well,” he said. “It’s Maryland. It’s an easy sell.”
It’s a pitch that reeled in two of the top three players in the capital region -- a place the program has been long trying to dominate -- in guards Melo Trimble and Dion Wiley as well as one of the most coveted international prospects, Michal Cekovsky.
Assistant Dustin Clark has already paid major dividends on the recruiting trail. Fellow assistant and recruiting ace Bino Ranson remains on staff after being a finalist for the head coaching job at Coppin State. Cliff Warren comes to the bench as a native of the area with D-I head coaching experience.
“I’ve never felt better about our program as I do right now,” Turgeon said with a smile.
“It’s all going to bounce our way at some point and everybody’s going to look back and we’ll forget about the rough time we had this spring.”
Is it morning again in Maryland?