So there I was in the back room of an ESPN studio last week in southern California, chatting for nearly 30 minutes with the First Brother-In-Law. The more we talked, the more I kept hearing a bunch of barking in my head.
Georgia has an opening for a head basketball coach, you know.
“Yeah, I’ve heard,” said Craig Robinson, with wide eyes. In fact, he fits the profile of what the Bulldogs need to become relevant again in hoops. “Do I?” he said, with even wider eyes.
Robinson is the 46-year-old big brother of First Lady Michelle Obama, and his resume spans from his serving as a two-time Ivy League player of the year at Princeton to his working as a profitable banker on Wall Street. He’s also the miracle worker in his first season at Oregon State, where the Beavers just won seven games in the Pac-10 after managing zero last season.
Prior to Oregon State, Robinson spent the second of his two seasons at Brown taking the moribund Bears to a school-record 19 victories. And get this: Georgia needs a miracle worker after finishing 12-19 overall and 3-13 in the SEC.
“No comment,” Robinson said, before trying to stifle a chuckle “Hey, I just got here (to Oregon State).”
Coaches have been one and done before, and consider this: Georgia basketball has much potential courtesy of a strong backing from athletics director Damon Evans, a $30 million practice facility and a state loaded with gifted players who often go elsewhere.
Did I mention that Robinson is a splendid recruiter? Corvallis is in the middle of nowhere, but he just finished with the nation’s 22nd-best class, according to rivals.com. He also is on the verge of bringing some of that Georgia talent to the middle of nowhere.
“We’ve just met a couple of guys who have started an AAU program down there, and we’re sort of making our inroads into the Atlanta area, because we want to recruit nationally, internationally as well as locally,” Robinson said. “We’re trying to make some of this national publicity we’re getting work for us.”
That publicity includes Robinson’s insistence that his players use correct grammar. He even has a dictionary and thesaurus in the locker room. “I’ll use certain words so they have to look them up,” Robinson said. “I want them to understand that when the ball stops bouncing, you have to speak well. You have to write well. You have to present yourself well. You have to be bilingual.”
Here’s another reason for Oregon State’s publicity: Their coach knows Michelle’s husband. “What people slept on with Barack is how really smart he is,” said Robinson, adding that Obama is a good athlete beyond basketball. “He’s a golfer now, and I know he and my sister play tennis. He can retain knowledge as well as anybody. It’s terrific, and I’m happy he’s our president.”
Those in the Bulldog Nation would be happy to say, “The First Brother-In Law is our basketball coach.” Which means Evans should make that call to the middle of nowhere. He might be pleasantly surprised and instantly blessed.