The task ahead of Trent Johnson is steep as TCU must upgrade facilities, fan support, and invest in a program that will start off as a little sister when the Horned Frogs dive into the Big 12.
The chest is not empty as Jim Christian left behind a team that finished up its first winning season since 2004-2005. What most fans did not see in Jim Christian's final year was the change in attitude around the program.
Jim Christian believed in his players, and they believed in him. Such an attitude is a far cry from the final years of the Neil Daugherty tenure and early Christian years.
If Jim Christian stopped the earthquake, Trent Johnson must now build the foundation.
Let's take a look back at the career of Trent Johnson.
Players of the year: 2
Coach of the year: 3
5 star recruits signed: 2
4 star recruits signed: 7
Sweet 16: Twice
NCAA tournament: 5 times
The Nevada years:
Let's rewind to 1998. While not a doormat, Nevada basketball was not a contending program. Nevada agreed to hire a Stanford assistant with no head coaching experience. That man was Trent Johnson.
?In Johnson's first two years in Reno, the Wolfpack struggled. Johnson did not settle for a quick fix or a momentary high. Instead, he instituted his system and went out and recruited only the players that were right for his type of basketball.
In year three, Johnson's Wolfpack began to taste success. Finishing with a 17-13 and jumping from 9th to 5th in the conference.
That success continued in Johnson's fourth year when the Wolfpack earned an NIT appearance after finishing strong in conference play (10-6). Johnson was named WAC coach of the year that season.
Expectations rose exponentially heading into the 2003-2004 season because the Wolfpack were led by returning shooting guard Kirk Snyder who was returning for his junior season after averaging 16.3 points per game in his sophomore campaign.
Joining Snyder was 6'11 forward Nick Fazekas who would quickly become a legend in the Wolfpack program. After Johnson left for a job at Stanford following the 2003-2004 season, Fazekas would average 20 points per game in his sophomore, junior, and senior campaigns.
Johnson had also landed another impressive guard in Marcelus Kemp out of Seattle, Washington. Along with Fazekas, Kemp would average 15,18, and 20 points per game in his final three seasons.
Both players put the Nevada program on a solid foundation that the Wolfpack had not had in recent years before Johnson's arrival.
In the 2003-2204 season, Nevada tripled the number of NCAA tournament games that it had won in program history. After having won just one tournament game in its history, Johnson led Nevada to the Sweet 16 before they lost to Georgia Tech who would go on to play in the title game that season.
Both Fazekas and Snyder went on to play in the NBA.
The Stanford Years:
Trent Johnson was an assistant at Stanford from 1996-1999 before getting the head coaching job at Nevada.
His success at Stanford is undeniable. In his first 3 years, the Cardinal earned two NCAA tournament appearances, and one NIT berth.
TCU athletics director Chris del Conte had to be impressed with Johnson's first season at Stanford when he sized up the LSU head man.
During that first season at Stanford, Johnson lost his leading scorer to injury, and after Mike Montgomery's departure, Stanford was left with just 9 players. Despite the undermanned roster, Johnson coached the Cardinal to a 3rd place finish in the Pac-10 and took Stanford to the NCAA tournament.
Just like at Nevada, Johnson's best season at Stanford was his 4th season. That year, the Cardinal went 28-8 with a 13-5 record in the Pac 10. Once again, Johnson's team advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling.
That season, Johnson also earned Pac-10 coach of the year honors.
Here is a look at how Johnson recruited at Stanford.
2005: In his first season, Johnson signed two four-stars in point guard Anthony Goods and PF Lawrence Hill.
2006: Johnson signed the Lopez twins, Robin and Brook, both five-stars. Both went on to play in the NBA.
2007: Only had to sign one player.
2008: Signed four-star Jeremy Green from Austin, Texas.
After a Sweet 16 berth in 2007-2008, Johnson left Stanford for LSU when the Tigers head coach John Brady was fired after starting conference play 1-6.
The LSU Years:
Johnson was the 20th head coach in LSU history, and he will be the 20th head coach in TCU history as well.
In John Brady's last year at LSU, the Tigers struggled. A 1-6 start in SEC play, led to Brady's dismissal, but Trent Johnson was quickly able to turn around the Tigers.
The Tigers went 13-3 in conference during Johnson's first year, and for the third time in his career, Johnson was named a conference's coach of the year.
The knock on Johnson, if you ask an LSU fan, is that he recruited at LSU like he was still at Stanford, holding his players to a high academic standard.
TCU would qualify as the median academic institution between Stanford and LSU. TCU does not allow incoming athletes to use a D grade on their high school transcripts.
Johnson received a lot of praise for honoring history while he was at LSU. Former players were utilized and brought back into the program.
In 8 of his past 10 seasons, Johnson's teams have reached postseason play.