Trent Johnson relishes the opportunity and challenge of taking over a program that hasn’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1998 and is moving to the Big 12 Conference next season.
TCU formally introduced Johnson as its new basketball coach Monday, a day after he resigned from LSU.
”I can’t express how excited I am about the challenge ahead of us,” Johnson said. ”This is where I want to lay my bed, and lay my stone. I’m completely so comfortable, I want to be here the rest of my life, and get this to the elite level. … I have no doubts and reservations in my mind.”
Before going 67-64 the past four years at LSU, Johnson took Nevada and Stanford to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament. Johnson has a 226-185 record over 13 seasons with Nevada (1999-2004), Stanford (2004-08) and LSU (2008-12).
”It’s been a long time since we’ve been to the tournament, and you’ve tasted the tournament,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said when introducing Johnson. ”And we hope in short order you’ll take us there.”
Johnson was an assistant coach at Stanford before going to Nevada as head coach. He later returned as head coach to Stanford, which like TCU is a private school in a major conference.
When Johnson got to LSU in 2008, he had a team filled with seniors. The Tigers went 27-8 and won the SEC regular season championship his first season, but went 22-41 combined with only five SEC wins the next two years before going 18-15 last season with an NIT appearance.
The 55-year-old Johnson replaces Jim Christian, who had been at TCU four seasons.
Christian left last week to become coach at Ohio University. He returned to the Mid-American Conference, where he was Kent State’s coach and had six 20-win seasons before going to Fort Worth.
Christian was 56-73 at TCU. But the Horned Frogs were 18-15 last season, their first winning season since 2004-05. They finished the season with a second-round loss at Oregon State in the College Basketball Invitational tournament.
The Horned Frogs, who last went to the NCAA tournament 14 years ago when Billy Tubbs was their coach, are moving from the Mountain West Conference to the Big 12.
”From his time at Stanford, Trent has a great appreciation and understanding of a private institution,” Del Conte said. ”We were impressed with the interest we had in our search process and have no doubt we’ve hit a home run for the TCU and Fort Worth communities with Trent Johnson as our head men’s basketball coach.”
LSU athletic director Joe Alleva said his school would move quickly but deliberately to find a replacement.
”Sometimes coaching changes work out well for all parties involved, and we will take this opportunity to seek out the best coach for the long-term future of LSU men’s basketball,” Alleva said in a statement Sunday. ” I wish Trent all the best in his new job.”