ACC Conversation: Bobby Cremins

Max Skinner, Special to

Bobby Cremins has been called the nicest person in college basketball. Oh yeah, and he can coach. After winning 100 games in six seasons at Appalachian State, Cremins took the reins at Georgia Tech in 1981 and quickly built the program into one of the nation’s elite.

While at Georgia Tech, Coach Cremins led the Yellow Jackets to three ACC titles, three ACC Coach of the Year awards, and one Final Four appearance in 1990. Cremins also won the Naismith National Coach of the Year award in 1990.

In 2012, Bobby Cremins ended his coaching career with a lifetime record of 579-375. Today, Cremins works as a broadcaster for Raycom, and he hosts a radio show on Sirius XM.

The 67-year-old, Bronx-native, will be recognized as an ACC legend later this week in Greensboro. In this week’s ACC Conversation, Coach Cremins talks about his illustrious career and his thoughts on the current state of ACC basketball.

Coach Cremins, what does it mean to you to be recognized as an ACC Legend?

I’ve had so many accolades, and I really appreciate them all. It seems like the older I get, the better that I was. I’m just honored to receive all of these accolades.

What was your favorite memory or moment while you were at Georgia Tech?

Georgia Tech has always been really great to me. We had some great moments, and we had some tough moments. I came to Georgia Tech at the perfect time. I loved Atlanta. The first ACC Championship in 1985 was really something.

Honestly, the best moment for me was winning that first ACC game. A lot of people thought we wouldn’t even win one ACC game that season. I was too stupid to listen to them.

There are so many great memories. Building the program, signing all these amazing players to come to Georgia Tech. You know, when it all comes together, winning that ACC championship really makes it special.

Sometimes you don’t appreciate it at the moment, but later on, you really do.

What do you miss most about coaching? What do you miss least?

If anything, I miss the challenge of gameday. I miss practice and the relationships with the kids. It’s a tremendous challenge to put a team together.

The thing I miss least about coaching is probably not having a good relationship with a player. If you’re not on the same page, it’s just not an enjoyable experience.

You had a very special relationship with players like Mark Price, John Salley, Matt Harpring, etc. Do you still keep in touch with them?

Oh yeah! You know, I feel good about the relationships I had with my players. It’s not like I had a love affair with everyone.

For the majority, my relationship with players was very good. I love seeing my players, and I really hope that they’re happy and doing well in their lives.

With teams like Louisville, Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame joining the ACC, what are your thoughts on the current state of ACC basketball?

Well things got a little wild there for a while. It was time to take off the gloves and get down to business. I thought [Commissioner] Johnny Swofford responded in a great way.

In college athletics there is a lot of hypocrisy, and this represented some of it. At the end of the day, I thought Johnny did a great job. When you look at the programs the ACC brought it, they’re tremendous.

As life goes on, things change, but I think the ACC is a very unique conference now.

What are your thoughts on the one-and-done era that we are witnessing in college basketball?

First of all, you gotta understand that it’s all handled by the NBA Player’s Association. It’s not like the NCAA or college athletics has anything to do with it. It’s all about the legal ramifications.

What I’m encouraged about is that the new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, seems to be a proponent of having student-athletes stay at least two years. I would love to see the head of the NCAA have a better relationship with Adam Silver.

What are your thoughts on Tony Bennett and Virginia basketball? Do you think Bennett-ball is boring?

Anybody that thinks Virginia basketball is boring is either not a fan of Virginia or is an idiot. I love some low-scoring games. I like when it’s unpredictable.

I think Tony Bennett is a rising star. I call him the new kid on the block. His philosophy, the way he handles himself is magnificent. Obviously he needs to sustain [success], but I think he’s a really bright spot in college coaching right now.

Do you like what Brian Gregory is doing with the Georgia Tech program?

I like Brian a lot. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a coach be so unlucky as Brian has been this year. You gotta feel for his hard luck this year.

People want to see a winning program, but I know Brian is doing everything he can to accomplish that.

What are your thoughts on the ACC Tournament transition to Brooklyn in 2016? Do you think it’s a good move?

Yeah, you gotta give it a shot because it’s New York City. I think it’s fair to everybody to move it around every now and then. Obviously the best place to have it is in Greensboro because the atmosphere of tobacco road is second to none.

I think the Commissioner should consult the coaches on this matter because they should have some input.

What are your Final Four picks?

I’ll probably get a couple wrong, but I definitely like Kentucky. I like Wisconsin. Then, either Duke or Virginia. I’m also gonna go with Kansas.

I need to ask you, where did your nickname “Cakes” come from?

When I got to Columbia, SC, in 1965, nobody could understand the way I talked. I had that New York accent, you know. So somebody said, “He talks like he has cake in his mouth.” So naturally, my nickname became Cakes.