Purdue coach Lonnie Green was introduced as Kentucky’s new track and field coach as well as cross country coach Tuesday. He succeeds Edrick Floreal, who left UK to become the head coach at Texas.
Here’s what Green had to say at his first UK press conference Tuesday.
Q. How much will your experience with the SEC at Arkansas all those years help you as far as knowing the landscape?
COACH GREENE: As Mitch alluded to this is the best track and field. This is the mecca of track and field. The SEC is the toughest track and field conference in the country. You can’t just recruit each and any young man and woman to come to this league and expect them to be to be perfected in this league. The experience that I had at Arkansas, we recruited the highest-level kids we could possibly recruit, so I understand what it takes, the type of student athlete that needs to come to the Southeastern Conference and compete at this level, and then compete nationally. The reality of it is this league is so competitive when you really think about it. You can be a team that finished seventh in the Conference and go to National Championships and vie for the National Championship. It’s sort of turning everything on its head, but that’s how competitive this league is. So that 16 years experience I had in the SEC at Arkansas, I think that’s going to pay dividends on my return to the league.
Q. On looking at the team he has here
COACH GREENE: It’s a very good team. We’ve a lost a couple, I say, very key individuals, you know, in Sydney and Jasmine and a few others. But the reality is the recruiting class that Flo had was a very competitive, very good recruiting class. We’ll try to finish off a couple pieces before school starts if time permits. I believe that we just will continue to build off that, and I’m going to be just as competitive or even more competitive.
Q. Coach Flo was kind of known for his sprints and hurdles and that kind of thing. Is that kind of your background as well? Do you have a specialty? Do you claim to have a specialty?
COACH GREENE: Speed and power is where I live, the same thing as Flo. My approach coming into the SEC is going to be more of a holistic approach. More of an all-encompassing approach. I think that’s the way you can win the SEC. Speed and power wins championships at the end of the day in my mind. But we’ll continue to build off that. We’ll examine the league and we will try to attack the league the best way we know how so we can be effective right away. I don’t believe in in incremental approach. That’ll get you tired. That’ll get you tired real quick. I want to be effective right away. Same thing I did in the Big Ten. If you permit me to say this, I looked at the Big Ten and the Big Ten was more of a distance runners’ conference, so I went opposite of that. As a result of going opposite of that, there was immediate growth for the program. So I am going to look at the SEC. I know the direction in which I’m going to go. I don’t know if I’m going to go into details because I know the best coaches in this country and league are watching this press conference. So I’m not going to say what we’re going to do. But at the end of the day, it’s going to be an approach where we can being effective, I mean really effective, as quickly as possible.
Q. Do you have a particular part of the country you like to recruit? Out of the country?
COACH GREENE: I think in the Southeastern Conference, it’s got to be an international team. You’ve got to find the best kids in the United States, and then you got to go find the best kids around the world if you want to be competitive. The NCAA is the international NCAA. The NCAA of today is not the NCAA of old in the 1980s when I was competing in college. So if you want to be competitive, you have to spread your wings a little bit. I have those connections. I have those connections around the world, the Caribbean, where you can go out and find the best kids. Again, my objective is to go out and find the best student-athlete who can handle the rigors academically here at Kentucky and who can handle it athletically in the SEC at the national level. That’s my objective. But yes, recruiting will be all encompassing.