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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2014

SPORTS COMMENTARY

Baptism under fire defines BGSU

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE SPORTS COLUMNIST

BOWLING GREEN — Dino Babers has yet to coach a football game in Bowling Green. Chris Jans’ employment as men’s basketball coach at Bowling Green State University can still be measured in hours, not days.

Chris Kingston, the BG director of athletics, is still adding up days, not years.

By Kingston’s own count, Tuesday was “my 254th day on the job, and each day continues to get better and better.”

There are a lot of ways to judge athletic directors, but the most obvious is by the coaches they hire.

So Kingston, Jans, and Babers will be intertwined as BG’s main programs set out to either remain among, or rejoin, the upper-echelon teams in the Mid-American Conference.

New ADs usually get time to dip their toes in the water, but Kingston has had to dive right in with two high-profile hires during a little more than eight months in the position.

We’re a long way from the votes being counted. Heck, the early precincts haven’t even opened yet. It will all sort out by wins and losses. But the sense most have is that Kingston has made two solid and very promising hires.

Introducing coaches at BGSU has become part news conference, part pep rally. And, like anywhere else, it is an opportunity for the athletic director to heap praise on his new guy and energize the fan base.

Kingston did his part, lauding Jans, most recently the associate head coach at Wichita State, and suggesting, “I’m not sure anybody else understands what is about to happen here.”

Jans did his part, too. One of his first comments was to exclaim that his new boss is “a rising star in the profession. There’s a special energy … a certain demeanor.”

And Kingston’s demeanor illustrates that he is all in for BG, from the tips of those brown-and-orange saddle shoes he likes to wear, and from bumper to bumper of that bright orange 1969 Dodge W200 pickup truck in which he often tools around town.

The Kingston Era of BG athletics may still be in its early days, but he trained hard for the job and came to it “prepared and postured to go ahead and make decisions like these. The biggest part of my job is to pick the coaches to whom I entrust our student-athletes.

“It’s not often you get to pick people for that role; it has just happened that we had these openings so soon after my arrival. But I knew the status of both programs and I came to the job with both eyes wide open.”

Both of his hires have head coaching positions in their backgrounds, albeit at lower levels, and both have worked as assistants at premier programs. As Kingston said, “The best predictor of future success is past success.”

Much of the enthusiasm surrounding Jans stems from what he helped head coach Gregg Marshall build at Wichita State, right now the best mid-major program in college basketball.

That type of success — Final Four one year, a No. 1 NCAA seed the next — seems fanciful at a place like BG, where resources are limited and must be shared with Division I programs in football and hockey, among others. Kingston says that can’t be Jans’ concern. It is his.

“Quite frankly, we’re doing more with less right now," Kingston said.

"Changing that is my job going forward.”

And, with that, BG’s athletic director is off to the next big task in his baptism by fire.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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