I talked to Seth Greenberg today. This is a longer story than the one that will appear in Tuesday’s newspaper and online Tuesday:
Seth Greenberg gained a new employer Monday, and it could very well be his final one.
ESPN announced it has hired the former Virginia Tech coach as an analyst for its men’s basketball coverage. Greenberg will spend most of his time as a studio analyst, although he will occasionally be used a color commentator for game telecasts.
“It’s going to be a different lifestyle, but it keeps me involved in the game,” he said in a phone interview today. “I’m going to talk basketball and I’m going to have fun doing it. And at the end of the night, when the game’s over, I’ll probably sleep a lot better.”
Is this just a one- or two-year gig for Greenberg until he gets another coaching job? He did not give that impression.
Earlier this month, Greenberg and his family moved from Blacksburg to Avon, Conn., near ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios.
“We moved up to Connecticut with the mind-set that we’re making a commitment to doing this,” he said. “I’m excited about the opportunity they’re giving me. Like anything I’ve ever done in my life, I’m going in with both feet in. I wouldn’t have moved to Avon, Conn., if that wasn’t my mind-set.
“I get a chance to stay in basketball and be around the game and talk ball. As much as I love the game, this is a great platform for me to share my passion for the game.”
Greenberg’s middle daughter, Ella, still plans to graduate from Tech in December. His youngest daughter, Jackie, would have been a senior on the Blacksburg High School volleyball team this year but will instead graduate from a Connecticut high school.
Greenberg could have traveled back and forth from Blacksburg to Bristol while his daughters finished school, but he and his wife decided not to put off the move north.
“Being that I was going to be in the studio three or four days a week, I would have missed Jackie’s whole senior year,” Greenberg said. “That wouldn’t have been fair to her or [wife] Karen.
“I didn’t think staying in Blacksburg would have been the healthiest for anyone involved.”
Greenberg, 56, was fired by Tech in April after nine seasons with the Hokies.
“I appreciate the opportunity I was given,” he said. “I’m very proud of what we accomplished. And now it’s time for me to move on and I guess for Virginia Tech to move on. I think history will end up proving out that we did some very special things.
“I’ve got great opportunity ahead of me. … My record speaks for itself. I’ve got a supportive family and an exciting future, so why wouldn’t I be at peace?”
Greenberg was 170-123 with one NCAA tournament bid and five NIT berths at Tech.
“I have great memories of Virginia Tech,” he said. “It’s where my children were raised and grew up. My memories are of graduating every senior but one. My memories will be of taking the worst program in the Big East and making it one of the most successful programs in the ACC over a five-year period. I’m leaving a lot of really dear, close friends behind and a very, very good team.”
Greenberg was replaced by former assistant James Johnson. The two have not spoken since Johnson was hired. Greenberg said he has called Johnson “numerous times but we haven’t been able to connect.”
Greenberg will often appear in the ESPN studio during halftimes, between games and during the nightly college basketball wrap-up show.
“I’ll have to speak in shorter sound bites,” he said.
This will be the first season in 35 years he won’t be a coach.
“This has been a different spring and summer for me,” he said. “It hasn’t been bad because I’ve had a chance to take Jackie to volleyball camps and be there for my family.
“I won’t know how I’ll feel [this season] until I get to that point, when Midnight Madness or the first set of games [happens].”
He said he will miss the relationships with players the most.
“They day-to-day interaction for better or for worse, even the drama, it’s something that I’ve lived with for 35 years,” he said. “One of the great things about coaching is not the four years you coach the young person, it’s five years down the road, 10 years down the road. It’s when they come back and say, ‘Coach, what you were talking about, that had an unbelievable effect on how I view life today’ Making a difference, even though it’s not realized at the time, that’s probably the thing I’ll miss.”
Athletic director Jim Weaver said in April that he fired Greenberg because assistant coaches had left and because he wanted “to change the direction and leadership of the program.”
Does Greenberg still have some anger towards Tech?
“I’m not giving that much thought,” he said. “I don’t have any control over what happened and I’m moving forward.”
Why does Greenberg feel he was fired?
“I’m excited about my opportunities with ESPN. That’s a question I can’t answer,” he said.
Does he feel if his assistant coaches hadn’t left, he’d still be the Hokies coach?
“I can’t answer that. I couldn’t tell you,” he said.
Does he have any ill will toward Johnson?
“It’s not a concern,” he said.
ESPN also announced Monday the hiring of former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl as a studio analyst and occasional game commentator.
Neither Greenberg nor Pearl will succeed Hubert Davis, now a North Carolina assistant, on the weekly “College GameDay” show. That slot will go to Jalen Rose, who is moving over from ESPN’s NBA coverage.