Leaving Wichita State: New BGSU head coach Chris Jans exit interview

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Chris Jans, Wichita State’s former assistant men’s basketball coach, was hired as head coach at Bowling Green State University after WSU lost to Kentucky in the NCAA tournament last season.

Sports Editor

Chris Jans came to Wichita State University as an assistant coach to head coach Gregg Marshall.

After helping the Shockers go from an 11-win team in his first year to the historical 35-win team last year, Jans was hired as the head coach of Bowling Green State University.

What did you like most about your job at Wichita State?

“Winning. We’re all very competitive in this industry. The be all, end all is to be a part of a winning program. Winning solves a lot of problems. Seems when you win, the food tastes better, the coffee tastes better, you’ve got a little more bounce in your step.”

What was the least favorite part of your job at Wichita State?

“During the process, certainly there were times when you may have disliked certain days or weeks or hours, but as you look back the journey itself is probably one of the most gratifying experiences that you’ll go through. We literally started at the bottom with winning 11 games in our first year and there were some tough times those first couple of years. There were times, I think, even in our second year where as coaches we’d look at one another and be like ‘Can we do this? Can we get this thing over the top?’

“But, the toughest time turned into one of the neatest times because we were playing Creighton at home and the crowd — it was a blackout — the crowd was unbelievable and I remember coach Marshall looking around and we were talking about how this fan base is unbelievable and they deserve a winner.”

Biggest difference between what you came into at Wichita State compared to what you’re going into at Bowling Green?

“The biggest difference between what we inherited at Wichita State compared to what we’re inheriting at Bowling Green ­— I think the first thing after the dust has settled, at Bowling Green we have nine juniors and seniors and four freshmen and sophomores on scholarship. I don’t know what we had at Wichita State, but I bet they pale in comparison in terms of the number of upperclassmen that we have so that’s a positive for us.

“The other thing is it’s been a long time since they’ve won at Bowling Green whereas at Wichita State — even though we didn’t win in that first year — we were two years removed from going to a Sweet 16. So, people in and around that program, the leadership that was in place, they had been around winning, they knew what it took to win. Where here it’s been a long time since they’ve won at that level so we’ve got a lot of change that needs to happen up and down the ladder with people that are responsible for helping this program.”

Most memorable moment?

“The National Anthem at the Final Four, where coach and I were shoulder to shoulder and we’re lined up in front of our bench. There was this flood of people that ran onto the floor and we weren’t privy to what was going on.

“In hindsight, they were getting in their formation to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Final Four. They were spelling out 75 on the floor which obviously from our perspective, we couldn’t see that. But it was so choreographed, so fast and so many moving parts and we weren’t prepared for it. I’ve never been on the floor for something like that.

“Then to look up and just see the sea of humanity to be down there on the court with 75,000 people watching, standing there with coach. We had a short conversation before they played the Star Spangled Banner and it went something like, Coach would point out, ‘Hey, there’s Robert Kraft’ and ‘Hey, there’s Will Ferrell.” I would say, ‘Hey there’s so and so.’ I looked at him and said, ‘Man, I feel like we’re at the Super Bowl,’ and coach looked at me and said, ‘We are.’”

What was it like when you told the WSU team that you were taking the Bowling Green job?

“Emotional. Very emotional. Unfortunately, in the world we live in today with social media and instant news and gratification, it’s hard to keep things under your belt and I wanted to be able to tell them in person before it got out.

“Unfortunately, it leaked a little bit before I got to tell them. Obviously you’re coming on the heels of our first loss and only loss of the season, which was hard enough. Then to have to tell the kids that you grinded with and worked with and won with and lost with and had so many neat memories behind the scenes that you’ll cherish forever, but to tell those young men that it was time to move on, was hard.”

What will you miss the most?

“Probably gameday. Koch Arena and the Wichita State Shocker nation is one of a kind. This is my 23rd year now. When you walk out of that tunnel, I don’t know how many games we played in the seven years that I coached there, but it’s special each and every time. It’s unique, and that’s special, and it’s because of the fans. I always tell people there’s a special relationship between the community and fans of Wichita State men’s basketball and that program and it’s been going on forever.”

How will you handle the pressure of being a head coach?

“I’m the new face of the program. Everybody wants to hear what I have to say and everybody’s excited. Obviously I understand lives. We’re in that honeymoon phase. We’re undefeated and sometimes change is good and we’ve hit the ground running. We’ve tried our best to get out in the community and interact with our fans and donors and try to create new ones and keep the existing ones, and just get people excited about BG basketball.

“Because of that, not having to have any wins or losses, it’s fun right now. But, I understand here in a few weeks we’ll have to step up and play some games, and I think that part will come into play more on gamenight.”