Quoting Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs:
"It is great to be with all of you today. We have been through a couple of weeks where we have talked to a lot of people about the head coaching job here for men's basketball. It was apparent right in the first few minutes of the interview with Tony Barbee that he was the right guy for Auburn. His values, his work ethic and his desire to win and raise up these young men physically, mentally and spiritually just match right up with our Auburn values.
"His success at a college player, assistant coach and as a head coach is remarkable. It's remarkable how he has been able to take men and build them in all three ways and all three areas of life. As we sat there and we visited with Tony, you heard his family values, you heard his passion and his vision for Auburn basketball. It was a real tough decision but an easy decision. It is my honor and my privilege to introduce to you today our 20th head basketball coach here at Auburn University, Coach Tony Barbee."
Quoting Auburn Head Coach Tony Barbee
"War Eagle! It is a great day to be an Auburn Tiger! Two things, it was very difficult to leave UTEP and the players because how I do things is all about family and the relationships that you develop and maintain, but when I looked at Auburn and I looked at this wonderful university, first class. When I looked at this wonderful community, first class. When I looked at all those things, the hard decision became very easy to make.
"I'd like to thank President (Jay) Gogue and Jay Jacobs for giving me this wonderful opportunity that I take very seriously in making this men's basketball at the best university in the state of Alabama one of the best basketball programs in the conference, and when you do that you become one of the best basketball programs in the country. Jay, I won't disappoint.
"I want to introduce the real head coach and her staff, my wife Holly, and my kids Hayden and Andrew. Holly was really excited about the opportunity, and she was excited that our school colors aren't going to change. She thinks that means I'm not going to buy new clothes.
Auburn athletic programs, obviously, I am a guy that is very thorough and does his homework, in both men's and women's sports stand for one thing, winning championships. In football, baseball, golf, track and field, gymnastics, and the list goes on including our men's swimming team. Coach (Brett) Hawke is going for back-to-back (national) championships. Auburn athletics is about winning championships. That is the reason why, as I looked at Auburn University and their men's basketball program, it is my responsibility to live up to that bar that has been raised by all the athletic programs at this great university.
When you talk about the great players, great teams, great coaches, Sonny Smith in 1986, one game away from a Final Four, when you talk about that, the great players from Chuck Person, to Wesley Person, to obviously Charles Barkley, there is a precedent that has been set with this program and that it has been done before. And when you look at Auburn Arena, why can't it be done again? That is why I am here. There is no one who is going to outwork my staff and I. There is no one who is going to outwork my team. Every day, as the head men's basketball coach of this program , I will work every day to make the former players proud, you proud, and the Auburn Family proud.
"In saying that, I will never lose sight of our main goal, making sure every single one of these men walk out of Auburn University with a degree that is going to put them on track for long-term success. The opportunity to be the coach here was an easy one. When you talk about what is now, the finest arena in the SEC, if not the country, this shows the commitment the university has made to the men's basketball program. This unbelievable university, the community, the history of this program, and now when you add this arena on top of that has been made.
"The commitment I make to you is to take this men's basketball program to heights it has never been before. That is my commitment to you. We will play an exciting style of basketball. It will be fun for the fans. It will be entertaining. It will be fun for the players.
In my 19 years in college basketball, I have been in postseason play 18 of 19 years. And I am madder than heck that one year we missed it. We started at UTEP, and we built to where I left it. The one thing I know about this style, is it is built to win in March. And I know that's all you want is to have a program you can be proud of. A group of young men you can be proud of, and a team that you will be watching deep into March. That is why I am here. I am going to make a promise. To the graduating seniors, you will always be a part of the Auburn Family. You will always be a part of my family. My offices, my house, and my phone will always be on for you. That is my promise to you.
"For the returning players, we are going to have a lot of fun. Now my definition of fun might be different than yours. My definition of fun is about hard work, about teamwork, about unselfishness, about loyalty and about family. When people watch my teams play, those are the things I want them to say about my teams. Those are the qualities I want my team to embody. We are going to have a lot of fun doing it. It is going to take a lot of hard work, but I have never been afraid of working hard.
"To the incoming recruiting class I will make a promise to them. I will get in contact with you very soon. To ensure you that you understand why Auburn University is a special place, and this is a special basketball program, and why you decided to come to Auburn is the reason why you'll stick with Auburn University. That is my promise to the incoming recruits. I can't wait to get to work. This is going to be a lot of fun. This is going to be a ton of fun. Let's all get on the train, let's enjoy the ride.
"Let me tell you one thing, there are two things I talked about with Jay that I think are the most difficult thing to do as a head coach in college basketball, and that's scheduling and that's recruiting. And you better enjoy them if you are going to be good at them. And as you see my wife, you can tell I'm a pretty good recruiter. We are going to go after and attract the best players in the country ‘ the best that fit with me, Auburn University, with the Auburn Family and what it stands for.
"We are not going to be afraid of going after the best players in the state of Alabama. We are not going to be afraid of going after the best players in the Southeast region. We are not going to be afraid to go after the best players anywhere in the country. I promise you that.
"Not only will we be recruiting student-athletes who I think can succeed here, academically and athletically, we will be recruiting the media, for exposure, we are going to be recruiting the community, for support, and we are going to be recruiting the students, because my responsibility is to rekindle that love affair between the Auburn community, the Auburn Family and this storied program. That is my challenge and I accept it whole heartedly. Again I want to thank Dr. Gogue and Jay Jacobs. I am proud, and humbled to be the newest member of the Auburn Family. War Eagle!"
"The players here are my immediate goal. Change is never easy. It's emotional. They've been emotional, and I have been emotional. When you go through that, there is an evaluation process you have to go through. They're evaluating me to see if it is the right fit for them. I'm evaluating them to see if they are the right fit for me.
"That being said, there is a process that takes place. It is a challenge that I will take on. There is no question that these men understand that Auburn University is a special place. It is a special program. We have already met as a team. Hopefully, as I get time to meet with them individually, and they get to understand my philosophy and what I'm about, it will be an easy decision to retain our team and current recruits."
(On scheduling philosophy)
"Two areas that are very challenging to a college basketball coach are scheduling and recruiting. You better enjoy them to be good at them. My scheduling philosophy is built on one thing. That is getting to the NCAA Tournament. Every year I will evaluate my schedule and it will be built around making sure we give ourselves the best opportunity (to make the tournament). You connect our SEC schedule with our non-conference schedule to give us the best strength to participate in that post season tournament."
(On your relationship with John Calipari)
"It is a unique relationship. I've known Coach Cal since I was 14 years old. He was my first coach at the famed Five Star Camp in Pittsburgh, Pa., that is run by Howard Garfinkle. He was my coach at that camp my sophomore, junior and senior years. As an assistant at Pittsburgh, he recruited me to play at Pitt. Then he got the head coaching job at the University of Massachusetts. I played for him at UMass for four years. I've worked for him as an assistant for seven years. So you can imagine what a special place he holds in my heart. He is my mentor and my friend. He will always be my coach.
"There hasn't been an influential male in my life, outside of my dad, that has had an effect on me like Coach Calipari has had. That being said he knows that I'm a competitive you-know-what. I know that he is the same way. It was my challenge at UTEP to go after Coach Cal on the court, in recruiting and everything we do as a program. If we were able to catch him in Conference USA, then that would put us at the top of the league. That is what happened for us this year at UTEP. That is my same philosophy here. We are going right after Kentucky, and we are going right after Coach Calipari. It is not an easy thing to do, but once we catch him guess where we will be? We'll be at the top of this league. That means we'll be in that postseason tournament that we all want to be in and at the top of this country."
On seeking Coach Calipari's advice)
"There hasn't been a major decision in my life personally and professionally, since I've known Coach Cal, that I haven't sought his advice. As successful as he has been, I wouldn't be very smart if I didn't do that. He knows what a special place Auburn University is. The advice he gave me as I was going through the process was that if you can get the Auburn job you run there. So that tells you what his affection is for this place. For me it was very quickly learned why he understood the potential in this program."
(On if it was his first time in Auburn)
"This is the second job in a row that I have taken without visiting. My wife doesn't appreciate that, but for me it is not about the bricks and the mortar. It is about people. From getting to know Jay in a very short period of time, his staff and the people I've met today, there is a passion for this great university. It is my job to extend that passion to the men's basketball program. It is a challenge, but that has been the challenge everywhere that I have been. I look forward to taking on that challenge."
(On hiring assistant coaches)
(On your style of play)
"My style is based around one word, that's pressure. We're going to oppose pressure to our opposing team for 40 minutes starting on the defensive end of the floor. That's where you win and compete for championships, on the defensive end of the floor. I believe in a man-to-man, hard-nosed, in your face, 40 minutes full-court selectively, when you can, (defense). I want to create a lot of our offense off of our defense. We'll play an up-tempo style that's fun and exciting for the team to play, fun and exciting for the fans to watch, but it's not helter-skelter. It's not run and gun. There's a discipline you have to have to play at a pace I want to play at while limiting your turnovers. You have to be disciplined.
"At the same time, any good coach is going to base his style around the personnel he has at the time and that's part of the evaluation process I'm going to have to go through initially to figure out if we can employ this style immediately or is it going to take time to build, but that's part of the process that I'm going to have to go through."
At what point in the process, did you know that Auburn was the right job for you?
"It's hard to pinpoint when that was exactly, but after meeting with Jay (Jacobs) and the committee during the process, as I've done my homework on Auburn University, it became recognizable to me very soon that this is a place I could not only build a team, but that I could sustain a program, a high level program. Why? Because of the commitment that the University has made to this men's basketball program.
"You look at this university, you look at this community, you look at the commitment they made to this program in terms of this arena. Everything is in place for you to build and sustain a championship level program. Doing my research and meeting with Jay (Jacobs) and the staff and getting a feel for the people, I felt that commitment was in place for me to be able to make it known that the commitment was here for me to build that type of program."
On the thought that you can't win at a football school.
"I say why can't you. Why can't you? That's not going to hold me back. I think it's a wonderful, amazing thing the success that football has had here at Auburn. I think it's my job to embrace that success. Understand, I'm a huge football fan. I'm from Indianapolis, so you can imagine I'm a huge Colts fan. I was at the AFC Championship Game this year. I was at the Super Bowl this year. It was a little disappointing how that ended, but I'm a huge football fan. The success that football has had here at Auburn can only help what we are trying to accomplish in men's basketball. There are some great examples around the country. There is one that comes to mind in this league, Florida. Why can't it be done here, too, when you look at everything this university has to offer."
(On getting the Auburn University student body involved in the basketball program.)
"I'm going to make the students a part of this program just like I'm going to make this community a part of this program. That love affair has to be rekindled, and that's my job. The support that we get here is my responsibility. I'm challenging our fan base, I challenging our students. We need you. You are a part of this program. You're not separate from it. You are a part of it. You have a direct impact on the outcome of games in this arena, and I need each and every one of you there every night because there is not going to be a harder working coach, a harder working staff or a harder working group of young men that are going to do it the right way, with class, with integrity, with passion, with heart, with desire, but it's my job to get the students engaged.
"How you do that? We're going to make them a part of this program, and there's a process you've got to go through, and I've got a blueprint because I faced similar challenges when I went to UTEP four years ago and we finished this year second in attendance in Conference USA. Our student section was sold out, 4,000 seats, all season long. We finished the season with six straight sellouts in a 12,000 seat arena.
"Winning has a big part in that, but it's not just winning. The community and the students have to understand, and they'll get a feel that I'm a part of this university, and I'm a part of this family and proud to be that way. When they feel that connection with me, then they won't want to let me down, and they won't want to disappoint me by not showing up and supporting this program."