Mark Few sat down for a rather informative interview with Seth Davis on the cleverly titled The Seth Davis Show. In it, the Gonzaga Bulldogs head coached broached quite a few subjects, from his humble upbringings to what it means to be a mid-major team (spoiler alert: Mark Few doesn’t think Gonzaga is one).
This was actually a pretty entertaining video. One thing about Mark Few is that he is always a soft-spoken guy, but he is also someone who has no issues saying what is on his mind. This interview wasn’t really different. Here are a few takeaways from it all.
The Gonzaga success story most likely won’t be replicated
Gonzaga’s rise to national prominence all began with the Elite Eight run in 1999. What most people don’t know, is not too long before that, the school had been questioning whether or not it even made sense to be a Division I school. Gonzaga, as an institution, made the obvious right decision. The basketball program has helped financially buoy the rest of the school, as enrollment has increased and new facilities are built to keep up with the arms race that is higher education.
When Davis asked Few if he knew the secrets to the success. Few’s response was as predictably humble and vague as you can expect.
I don’t know if we know anything different. It was a unique situation in time, in a perfect place. Spokane is a perfect place. There is no major professional sports there. The Zags are the thing. We had great leadership at that time, we’ve continued to have great leadership. That has probably been one of the big unsung heroes of that saga, my athletic director has stayed the same this entire time and its only the second president I’ve worked for. I had great solidarity and staff that stayed together for long periods of time. When you look at Leon Rice, Billy Grier, Tommy Lloyd has been with me forever now. Those things have been the major driving force. The school has grown. They haven’t fought the impact of the program. It hasn’t been where people get upset with it getting attention. Everyone has been pulling the rope in the same direction, and we are still on a growth pattern.
And Few is right here. Spokane, as a city climate, was ripe to have a successful sports “franchise” (for lack of better words) because they don’t have one. But the major key to success happens to be consistency. As it stands, consistency is what differentiates Gonzaga from other mid-major flash in the pan programs.
Gonzaga is not a mid-major according to Mark Few
There are people around the internet that like to hurl mid-major as an insult of sorts to Gonzaga. But realistically, this program, although it started out as a mid-major, and although it plays in a definitely mid-major conference, is not a mid-major team. Does anyone call BYU a mid-major program? Nope. But that is because most people just use mid-major as a catch-all that hovers around a school’s enrollment. Few shot the notion that Gonzaga is a mid-major down as soundly as possible.
I don’t think we are [a mid-major]. I don’t know exactly what the definition is. I don’t know who invented the term. My guess is that it is a middling school at a big five power school that never really achieved much that started throwing that out there. If you look at our success we’ve had, if you look at our seeding in the NCAA Tournament, if you look at how we schedule and who we schedule, if you look at the pre-season tournaments we are invited to, if you look at the national television games that we have year in and year out, if you look at how we travel, if you look at how our staff is taken care of. I don’t know if we fit into a box.
However, interestingly enough, although Few doesn’t seem to care about the label anymore, he did note one place it pops up: recruiting. Says Few: “I think we’ve moved past that mid-major issue in recruiting six to seven years ago. What they try to use against us is the league affiliation.”
Not every top recruit belongs here
This was an interesting little bit to me, and I’m glad to see Few stick his nose out here a bit with this get off my lawn mentality. But it is true. In this day of early signing periods and ESPN specials for top-level recruits, some of these student-athletes seem to arrive at schools expecting the world at their fingertips. When Few and Davis were chatting about what had changed since he started coaching, one little nugget popped out.
“There is a sense of entitlement that has creeped in in some cases,” said Few.
He goes on to say he sees it less in international kids, and it isn’t something that means just because you come from royalty you get treated like royalty (e.g. Domantas Sabonis). But it is an interesting tidbit in something that emphasizes the recruiting pattern of Gonzaga players. They aim for the hard workers.
Mark Few will not coach here forever
He gave no indication that he is going to leave anytime soon, but when Davis asked Few if he wanted to coach until he is 70, Few gave a rather abrupt response.
“There is no expletive way.”
If you haven’t watched the interview, it is actually rather informative. There are a couple of Seth Davis clunkers and dumb references to fly fishing, but overall Few lets out a few little tidbits about himself that he hasn’t revealed yet. Here are a few other interesting little highlights:
- Mark Few and Kansas head coach Bill Self have the same birthday.
- Mark Few says he would’ve jumped ship just like Dan Monson did 100 times out of 100 times in his shoes.
- Mark Few is worth his paycheck now. He made $1,500 a year for his first two years at Gonzaga as a graduate assistant.