Professional and College Basketball Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

3,525 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tom Brennan will be on ESPN's Cold Pizza this morning. The shows goes from 7:00-9:00 a.m. (live) and then replays from 9:00-11:00. Cold Pizza is on ESPN2. They say he's sopposed to be on around 8:00 and then again at 10:00. Love him or hate him he's a good politician and helps the A-East with exposure.
UVM plays at Stoney Brook tonight.

970 Posts
Yeah, that and the fact that Andy Katz's family has had a summer home in Vermont ever since he was a little kid growing up in Palo Alto, Calif., doesn't hurt.

Hey, who knows, maybe Dukie V will get his head out of Coach K's butt one of these days and discover they play basketball in other parts of the country, too. Naaaaaah.

Good for Brennan and UVM. Hope he puts in some good plugs for AE.

I became a Brennan fan for life when he stuck his neck out and "told it like it was" several years ago at the tournament in Delaware.

67 Posts
Brennan Promoting a New Book or Something?

This past sunday he had a huge (bigger than almost any other sports related article i've read in the paper) write up in the atlanta journal constitution. it was an interesting feel good piece. i didn't know that he played at uga. the article said that after harrick almost ran the program into the ground, brennan received some consideration to take over the helm at uga. it's a small world.

you know, i don't personaly have any feelings either way about the guy. i'm not close enough to any of these programs to have a valid opinion.

however, i do notice that generally when it comes to polls, projected brackets or media attention, he is the glamour boy among the conference's coaches. has been since i can remember. he and his teams get more attention than any other, sometimes at the expense of another more deserving team or coach.

but i do agree that any publicity is good for the conference. anyone know why he is such a media darling?

3,525 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The link to the article died so here it is cut and pasted. Sorry its so damn long.

Cozy in Vermont
Look at what Tom Brennan has and learn a lesson about commitment

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Burlington, Vt. -- Three decades after the Jersey Guy graduated from Georgia, 18 seasons since his meanderings somehow landed him here, Tom Brennan finally has the world by the basketball, the FM radio dial and the
funny bone. And he knows it.

So does everyone watching him walk the pregame walk one recent, frigid evening.

As always, Brennan made his entrance with precisely 3:00 left on the scoreboard clock. As the P.A. system played the happy bop of Van Morrison's "Jackie Wilson Said," Tom Brennan strode. If only he'd snapped his fingers to the beat while going baseline, then strolling down the sideline toward the Vermont bench, a Vegas headliner about to play the Big Room.

Nearly everyone in Patrick Gymnasium - aka Little Lambeau, the 3,228-seat gym with pull-out bleachers - shadowed Brennan and began to politely applaud. His Catamount constituency included:

* A couple of thousand hardy fans who displayed sub-zero tolerance. The temperature at tipoff? Minus-10.

*Dozens of little kids, middle-aged men, little old ladies who, at
Brennan's urging, stuck adhesive bandages across their noses. A show of support for Vermont guard David Hehn, who wore a face mask to protect the nose broken by a forearm from Northeastern's Marcus Barnes.

"If I'm going to make a fool of myself, I'm going to be color coordinated," said "Mama Gooch," Mary Anne Gucciardi, 70, her purple bandage complementing her purple sweater. "I'll wear it for Tom and these kids. He's our ambassador."

*The guys on Nicholson Row, courtside regulars who include Steve Cormier. He's "Corm," of "Corm and the Coach," the top-rated morning radio show in Vermont. It's co-hosted by Cormier and Brennan on "The Champ," 101.3 FM, the home of classic rock and occasional ribald repartee each weekday morning from 6-9.

"We kick Howard Stern's [butt]," said Corm. "[Don] Imus, too."

*Taylor Coppenrath, the reigning America East Conference player of the year and the best college player you've never heard of. A 6-foot-9 Vermonter from West Barnet (pop. 300), the Jack Sikma shoot-a-like dropped 38 points on UCLA in a 68-67 loss at Pauley Pavilion in December and is now third in Division I in scoring with a 24.3 average.

Orchestrating it all in the basketball coldbed of Brrrrrrlington is
Brennan. A onetime Georgia Bulldog who failed miserably trying to defend Pistol Pete Maravich of LSU, a once-young coach who lost 50 of his first 58 games at Vermont yet somehow got a vote of confidence from the school president, Brennan is 54 now and the prince of the city on Lake Champlain.

"This is my place," he said. "This is where I belong. How many guys in this transient business find peace?"

Listen to your wife

Last March, Hehn's late baseline jumper beat Boston University 56-55 to give Vermont its first America East title and first bid to the NCAA tournament in the 103-year history of UVM basketball. A snowstorm turned Vermont's trip to Salt Lake City into a 42-hour odyssey; they were whomped by No. 1 Arizona 80-51. No biggie.

"I won the press conference," said Brennan, who was later rewarded with a new four-year contract, including a salary bump to $97,000. This, following some informal inquiries from Athens after Georgia had fired Jim Harrick. Brennan's still in his little painted-cinderblock office that's always open, despite "The Wizard of Oz" admonition on the door: "Nobody Gets in to
See the Wizard. Not Nobody, No How."

His wizardry has helped Vermont to a 14-5 record, including an 11-game winning streak and a 10-0 America East mark. A second conference crown and a return to the NCAAs are distinct possibilities. Yet what most beguiles Brennan is his sense of belonging, the mutual love affair between coach and community, and the undeniable fact that life here's an Arctic blast.

"Intrigued." That's how Brennan felt last spring when a go-between from Georgia called concerning its coaching vacancy. "They're going to need somebody to ride in here on a white horse, T.B.," the guy said. Brennan told his wife, "Baby, it makes some sense. This is $700,000, $800,000, $900,000."

The woman WCPV radio listeners know as "Miss Lynnie" made better sense. "What do you want that you don't have?" Lynn Brennan asked. "Where do you want to go that you haven't been?

"Look out the window," she said, gesturing to a picture indow. "Look what you have." What the Brennans have is a breathtaking view of Lake Champlain from their gorgeous lakefront home.

"You were able to give back to the state the greatest gift," Lynn said. "They hung with you so long, and you gave them a championship."

That convinced Brennan that he belonged here. That, and Villanova coach Jay Wright's reminder of something the late Jim Valvano once told him: "You don't [mess] with happy."

Of course, some folks in Athens might've scanned Brennan's résumé and asked, "Huh?" Yes, he's won 231 games here. He's also lost 265. Brennan won 14 games in his first three seasons, going 5-23, 3-24 and 6-21 in 1989. He was so frustrated in '89, he told his wife, "There's no commitment to basketball here."

"You're 14-68 and you still have a job," Lynn replied. "That's a pretty good commitment."

Brennan persevered. The past two seasons, he's prospered: 21-8 and the America East regular season title in 2001, then last year's 21-12 NCAA breakthrough. Now, the Cats are clearly the class of the conference, and Brennan, now a grandfather, is still the king of early-morning drive time.

A natural for radio

In 1992, WCPV approached Brennan about doing twice-an-hour sports updates on Cormier's show. He jumped at it. He needed the money. Two days of sports updates and several jokes later, Brennan quickly became "Coach" to Cormier's "Corm."

"I made more at the radio than coaching," said Brennan. "I'm good on the radio, better than I was [then] at basketball. I was getting paid fairly at both places."

In the studio, Brennan occasionally calls opposing coaches at 6 a.m. on game days. He routinely adjusts the weekly college basketball polls: "Duke is number one, followed by Stanford, St. Joe's, Vermont at No. 5 and then Pitt."

Brennan even writes and recites original poetry each Friday. Excerpts from an ode to Howard Dean after his post-Iowa caucuses meltdown:

Well, Dr. Dean went off on a rant, would've made Dennis Miller proud.
It's not the first time he's been a crank; he actually got huffy with me
when I asked him about Barney Frank.
But he's one of us. . . . Sure, he was feisty, kinda like a Rottweiler pup.
But how bad could it have been? They didn't T him up.

Somewhere, Yeats and Keats ain't smiling. But anywhere Brennan goes, he leaves 'em laughing. This gangly kid from Phillipsburg, N.J., alighted in Athens in 1967, when Georgia basketball was lily-white and lousy. Brennan spent two winters futilely chasing Maravich. One night in a packed Stegeman
Coliseum, an SEC referee named Lou Bello whistled Brennan for a foul on Pistol Pete. "That was an offensive foul," Brennan said. Walking toward the scorer's table, Bello wheeled toward Brennan and shouted, "Hey! They ain't here to see you!"

A graduate assistant at Georgia after earning a physical education degree in 1971, Brennan apprenticed under Rollie Massimino at Villanova, became Bill Raftery's youngest aide at Seton Hall and is still close friends with Bruce Parkhill, his boss at William & Mary.

Brennan was the head coach at Yale from 1982-86, went 46-58 but never felt comfortable in New Haven. When Brennan was offered the Vermont job in '86 and told Dr. Frank Ryan - the old Cleveland Browns quarterback-turned-Yale athletics director - Ryan quickly said, "I think you should take it."

At home in Vermont

So he went to Burlington, paying his own moving expenses. For years, UVM struggled. Brennan didn't have the full NCAA limit of 13 scholarships. Too, his home talent base was Vermont, the least-populous state in the continental U.S.

But look now:

Coppenrath is one of two Vermonters on the roster. The other, fifth-year senior center Matt Sheftic, the MVP of last year's conference tournament, is out for the year with a torn ACL. Although the NCAA granted Sheftic a medical-hardship sixth year of eligibility, he'll likely skip it and graduate, in hopes of becoming an Army Ranger.

Coppenrath, meanwhile, could become the first native Vermonter to play in the NBA. "He's a great motivator, doesn't badmouth anybody," Coppenrath said of Brennan. "He doesn't B.S. you. He'll tell you what's what. He adds a little flavor to it, which is interesting. But he's real witty. Tells great stories."

Like the one he told starting junior forward Germain Njila from
Cameroon."When I visited here [on a recruiting trip] in the fall," Njila said, "it was a nice day, 80 degrees."

"I lied," Brennan said. "I told him it never gets cold here. If he gets a job in North America, I'm going to get him the nicest top coat."

And Brennan will take Burlington over Yale or Georgia, the SEC or any other elite conference. "At Yale, I was young, a handful," Brennan said. "I was an excitable boy, to quote Warren [Zevon]. Now, to have the success late, you appreciate it more. You know who the people are who stuck with you."

People like Mama Gooch, who has received an honorary doctorate from UVM and who cooks her legendary Italian dishes for more than 700 at the team's annual preseason spaghetti dinner. It's $8 for adults, $5 for kids, and the players serve as waiters. The proceeds benefit the basketball team and the
Kevin Roberson Scholarship Fund. Roberson, UVM class of '92 and the Cats' all-time leader in rebounds and blocked shots, and his sister were killed in May 1993 when their car was hit by a drunk driver.

People like the fans who pack Little Lambeau and buy tickets for the on-court raffles held during timeouts. Like Jack and Eileen Fontaine, who own the Rusty Scuffer, Brennan's downtown hangout where the Catamounts eat their pregame meals, and where the coach has his own booth in the back corner.

And Mike Antoniak, a National Guardsman from Winooski. He and his wife, Candy, spent Mike's last free weekend in Boston before he was activated and transported to Ft. Dix; his eventual destination: Iraq. While in Boston, the Antoniaks took in the Vermont-Boston University rematch. Before the game, Mike introduced himself to Brennan, saying that last year's
conference final win was one of the happiest days of his life.

Then Antoniak told Brennan what personal items he was taking to Baghdad:
Photos of Candy and their daughters, and his ticket stub from last season's historic Vermont-B.U. game. Brennan, who'd just told his players how much they've come to mean to so many in this state, asked Antoniak to address the Catamounts.

"Now?" Antoniak asked. Now. Five minutes before tipoff. Antoniak did. He cried. So did Brennan, then the players. UVM won. The following Thursday, when the Antoniaks and their family were having a last supper at the Rusty Scuffer before Mike's departure the next day, several players came up and wished him well, and posed for photos with the Antoniaks.

"Now, we've got a guy to root for, too," Brennan later told Patrick Garrity of the Burlington Free Press. "This is what it's all about. This is why you hope that you get good. So you can share it with other people."

4,794 Posts
drunkidiot - thanks for pasting

The article was very insiteful and gives outsiders, like myself, a glimpse of a part of the coach we don't get to see.

For me I associate Brennan with sideline bafoonery, now I know there's much more to him than what I see on the sidelines or I get from paraphrased statements in the press.

Thanks for the insite.

5,210 Posts
I love Tommy B's quote about his tenure at Yale... "young and exciteable." That's an understatement, for those who remember and lived through Tom Brennan - The Yale Years first hand..

Saying he never felt comfortable at Yale a highly ironic statement. I'm not going to air Tommy's dirty laundry on this site, but those who know him well (I assume by your comments drunkidiot, you know him closer than most), know the Tom Brennan story at Yale, and young and exciteable are probably somewhat apropos.

Technically Yale didn't fire him, just as technically Don Brown never interviewed for the UMass coaching job. Yale never fires ANYONE.

8,942 Posts
I've learned to appreciate and accept Tommy B. for who he it "tough love". Besides, he has done much more for exposure of America East than a certain guy *cough* Chris Monasch *cough* on High Street.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts