Ford named as head coach

Doug Gulasy

Geno Ford replaces Christian to lead men’s basketball

Kent State athletic director Laing Kennedy places one MAC championship hat and one Kent State hat onto the head of new head basketball coach Geno Ford. ELIZABETH MYERS | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

The Kent State athletic department made it official yesterday morning: Geno Ford is the new men’s basketball coach.

Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy announced Ford as former coach Jim Christian’s replacement in a press conference yesterday at the M.A.C. Center.

“I’m very honored and pleased to introduce Geno to the community as our new coach,” Kennedy said. “He brings the values and qualities that we look for in a head coach (and) the energy to continue our program at the championship level.”

Kennedy marked the introduction by putting two hats on Ford’s head: a beige Mid-American Conference championship hat from the 2007-08 season and a blue Kent State hat.

“(I don’t know) if that was designed to cut down the reflection of my bald head or not,” Ford quipped.

Addressing a room packed with media members, players and members of his family, Ford said he was “honored and humbled” by his new position.

“A lot of times when you get a job, you start out and you take a job that is rebuilding or somebody has been relieved of their duties and you have to come in and clean up the mess,” he said. “I’m following someone who cast the biggest shadow over the conference in history.

“Coach Christian, I hope, taught me a lot. I certainly tried to learn. (It’s) just unbelievable what he was able to accomplish here in six years … I think that what we’re going to really focus on is what we talked to our guys about: the continuation of pursuit of excellence.”

Ford served as Christian’s top assistant last season after spending the previous two seasons as the coach at Muskingum College. Previously, he was also an assistant at Kent State from 2002 to 2005.

Kennedy said the players endorsed Ford to become the new coach after Christian departed over the weekend to become coach at Texas Christian University.

“(The players are) a great group of young men – I value their opinions,” Kennedy said. “Meeting with them as a group and then some of them individually, it was unanimous in their support for coach Ford, not only factual but emotional. That’s huge, in my mind.”

Ford spent two seasons as coach at Muskingum and also coached at Shawnee State for a season. In his three seasons as a college coach, Ford has a 51-32 record.

“As you go from assistant to being the person responsible for decision-making, you learn more from making decisions because you make mistakes,” Ford said. “I think that having had three years of head coaching experience (helps me). There’s no question.

“Do I have all the answers? No. I don’t think there are any coaches out there who do. That’s why you see a coach one year coach in the Final Four and the next year not make the NIT … I think just the experience of understanding sometimes what works, what doesn’t work and going through past decisions that you made that maybe weren’t successful (will help).”

Kennedy shared four goals Ford gave him for the 2008-09 season: making sure the program tradition never graduates, having a 100 percent graduation rate, winning back-to-back MAC championships for the first time in program history and winning a first round NCAA Tournament game.

“I know the challenge here with continuing to move our program forward because of the success we’ve had,” Ford said. “(I’m) anxious to tackle it and to get moving.”

Contact sports reporter Doug Gulasy at [email protected].