STILLWATER -- It was not the pomp and circumstance of a year ago, no balloons, no fake campaign signs. This was not a pep rally, but a media news conference. With the exception of a few fans that wandered in, it was the new head coach Mike Boynton, Jr., his family, wife Jenny, two kids, Ace and Zoe. Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis, athletic director Mike Holder, three of the four members of the Oklahoma State and A&M Board of Regents that were involved in the interviews and the decision, the basketball team, Oklahoma State coaches and staff, and the media. Many waiting to hear for the first time the assistant coach that blew away the six decision makers in the room last Thursday to earn his first head coaching job, not at a low or mid-major school but at power five, Big 12 member Oklahoma State. After several days of doing some media situations, starting the process of taking over the basketball program, and working on his contract, which for now is slated to make Boynton $1-million per season for five-years, Boynton took the podium in the O-Club on the concourse of Gallagher-Iba Arena introduced as the new head coach and was overcome with emotions.
"This is a pretty unbelievable day in a lot of ways. I’m 35 years old. I really did think I would be a head coach," Boynton started before beginning to go silent with tears and simply not being able to talk. "I had no idea I would be the head coach at Oklahoma State University. Thank you. Thank you. There are a lot of people who get credit for me standing here today: President (Burns) Hargis, Mr. (Mike Holder) for giving me this appointment, the Board (of Regents), thank you guys. The City of Brooklyn that raised me, all of my friends I grew up with, my dad, my mom, my sisters."
He really struggled getting through the family members and most likely, remembering the brother his mother carried full-term only to pass away after one day in the hospital from respiratory problems, he was barely audible when saying, "I didn’t have a brother, but I’ve always had brothers."
That was a nod to all of his teammates through the years, from little league to Mt. Carmel-Holy Rosary in middle school in Harlem to Bishop Loughlin in high school in Brooklyn. There were AAU teammates and, of course, his teammates at the University of South Carolina.
The emotions were sincere, and it took probably a full two or three minutes and several gulps of the bottled water in his hand to get back in rhythm. I don't think Boynton had any clue that he would be overcome like that. Because it is real, it is acceptable. You could tell by the Oklahoma State players this is the guy they knew. If you are wondering who may have been most confused by the emotions, it likely was President Hargis, Holder, and the three Regents. Apparently, what they saw in the interview on Thursday and when they brought him back on Friday morning was a very together candidate to become the next head coach.
"I don't know, but we had one guy on the committee (one of the regents) and he looked at him (during the interview) and said, 'You're a superstar,'" athletic director Mike Holder said in discussing the interview that the panel had with Boynton. Told it was not scandalous, Holder still wouldn't reveal which of the four Regents as Doug Burns was the leader of the Regents on the panel, Calvin Anthony, Joe Hall, and Rick Davis. "I know it's not (scandalous), I was shocked by that but I agreed with him. He was hearing the same music that I was hearing."
"I think you saw some of that today," President Burns Hargis said in the concourse after the press conference. "When he started crying, he's sincere, he really is, and, of course, this is an overwhelming venue to be in with his experience. He is one of the most genuine people that I have met in my life and we think he has a great relationship with the team and with the recruits. I think he is a person of very high character and he was raised right."
Holder said when Boynton was brought back the next day, he was not the only one. The implication was the three assistants were all called back, but again, Boynton was impressive.
"Actually we just had a couple of questions for him and some of the others, but we ended up talking to him (Boynton) for 45 minutes," Holder added.
Then the offer was made later that day in Holder's office.
"My office, Lamont Evans was right there with us," Holder said. "That is how much I respect both of them."
Evans was offered right away the associate head coach job and he must be pretty confident in Boynton too, because he said it didn't take long for him to decide. That is significant because our sources said that Evans was offered a chance to join Underwood at Illinois much like basketball director of operations Joey Biggs, who has joined Underwood.
"Maybe, an NBA shot clock," Evans said of the time it took for him to decide to take Boynton's offer to be associate head coach. "I talked to my wife, but it took about the time on an NBA shot clock. It was quick, very quick."
Boynton was emotional about Evans staying on board being by his side as the first announced staff member and assistant coach.
"Our staff is here for our players. Lamont Evans is somewhere in this room and he could just as easily be standing right here," Boynton said. "He’s a brother that I never had, a great friend and a tremendous coach and he will be standing here one day. I love him and he knows that. He will be staying with us as the Associate Head Coach at Oklahoma State University," Boynton, by this point back with strong voice and sounding very solid. "That’s my co-coach. I have a head coaching title. I don’t want to say that doesn’t mean anything, because it does. It was a goal of mine, but that isn’t what this is about. Our players are here to get better, grow, develop, mature; go from irresponsible, questionable decision-making, immature, sometimes know-it-alls to guys that understand what life is about, and that’s people. They’ve got to respect people. They’ve got to work their tails off every day to get better. Sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed, but you’ve got to get out of bed and go to work because that’s your responsibility. They need to learn that lesson. They need to do things that they don’t necessarily feel comfortable with at times because it’s the right thing to do, not the easy thing. It’s my job to teach them that."
The player's sound like he already has.
"Coach Holder called me and we had a sit down and I was honored he gave me that chance," Dillard said. "I threw some names at him and I said either Mike Boynton or Coach Lamont Evans would definitely do wonders for this program. Especially young coaches, people look at their age, but the fire and love they have for the players and I think we would get better and better each year."
Jeffrey Carroll, fresh from announcing last Friday that he was exploring his opportunity in the NBA and he said he really appreciated what he heard from Coach Boynton, not a hard pitch for him to come back to OSU, but solid support to help him follow that dream of playing pro basketball.
"I did see that and he goes beyond basketball," Carroll said. It's not just like we're his players. He bonds with us so well being a young coach. he works hard everyday and pushes us. Hearing that made me smile because he cares about us and wants us to make our dream."
Carroll said he would try to go to the NBA Combine and then do some personal workouts for teams and get feedback. He also said his academics are where he can balance that and keep his options open.
Evans said the Cowboys are good as things stand right now with all their signees and their one committed recruit.
"Absolutely, talk to those guys everyday," Evans said. "Once they sign with us or commit then they are part of the family."
But don't be surprised if some of the family is not under attack from rival schools, even their former boss Brad Underwood at Illinois, That is why after the press conference both he and his new boss, Mike Boynton, Jr., were on a plane and on the road to get out there and recruit on the frontlines.