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Greenberg: Inexpensive, Friendly

Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

Dave Glenn and Staff, ACC Sports Journal
April 7, 2003 BLACKSBURG — Now that Virginia Tech has hired Seth Greenberg to replace Ricky Stokes as its men's basketball coach, who's next? Rick Carlisle? Terry Holland? Greenberg was an assistant coach on the 1983-84 Virginia team that played in the Final Four, the same squad on which Stokes was a player, as were Carlisle and Olden Polynice. Virginia Tech will be the third Big East stop for Greenberg, who also worked as an assistant at Pittsburgh and Miami in the 1980s.

Certainly, Tech athletic director Jim Weaver wasn't seeking UVa connections when he went looking for a successor to Stokes. Just ask successful Boston University coach Dennis Wolff, a four-year UVa assistant in the early 1990s who never got a call concerning the Hokies' job.

Weaver probably would not have hired Greenberg, the head coach for the past seven years at South Florida, if he hadn't run out of options after being turned down by Chattanooga's Jeff Lebo and Rhode Island's Jim Baron, the latter on the eve of a trip to Blacksburg. You probably can put East Tennessee State's Ed DeChellis in that category, too, because DeChellis admittedly preferred the position at his alma mater, Penn State, and was happy that an offer from PSU came before he had to make a decision on Tech.

Weaver described Greenberg, a friend when Weaver was at UNLV and Greenberg at Long Beach State, as “an ideal candidate.” And in some ways he is, with the head coaching background Stokes lacked after coming to Tech as an assistant at Wake Forest, Virginia and Clemson.

However, it was somewhat disingenuous for Weaver to indicate that Greenberg was the perfect choice when he did not talk to him before April 2, the 24th day of the search. Moreover, there was a perception that Greenberg had worn out his welcome at South Florida. The Virginia Tech job is not considered a very desirable one in college basketball circles, and Weaver undoubtedly saw proof of that reality during his search. Greenberg may be a good coach, but he went just 108-100 in seven seasons at South Florida and failed to post a single victory over a top-25 opponent while with the Bulls.

Be that as it may, Greenberg gives Tech the kind of media-friendly coach it lacked with Stokes, and his hiring didn't break the bank. Tech knew it would have to upgrade the $208,000 per year it was paying Stokes, but Greenberg's six-year, $429,000 a year pact was a bargain by big-time basketball standards. Surprisingly, Greenberg's financial package was only $225,000 a year at South Florida, a Conference USA program that was competing against some million-dollar coaches on the hardwood.

Of course, even Greenberg's improved numbers are peanuts compared to what football coach Frank Beamer gets, but the Hokies have two years left to pay on the admissions fee they were charged for entering the Big East. For everybody else but football, that means austerity.