Third time is a charm for McCullum, maybe FAMU too

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer


Robert McCullum’s first words after being introduced as the next men’s basketball head coach at FAMU were “Thank you.”
What else could he have said. The guy had applied for the FAMU coaching job two previous times.
“The third time is a charm,” he said. “This is a place I really want to be. FAMU is a history-making university.”
Problem is the Rattlers haven’t been doing anything historic in more than a decade.
The onus is clearly on McCullum to change that. He didn’t promise to win 20 or more games. Nothing like that at all from the man who left what seemed like a cushy job in Oregon to come to Tallahassee.
He’s been with the Ducks for the last three seasons. His resume also includes stops at Western Michigan and the University of South Florida, where he had his only head coaching jobs.
That was awhile back and the FAMU faithful are questioning whether he could turn their program around.
They might find some solace in what people are saying about their new coach, though.
Dana Altman – Head Coach Oregon
“Robert has been a big part of our success over the last three years.  Working with our players in all facets, including academically.  On and off the floor, he’s very experienced and has a wealth of knowledge. He worked well with our entire staff and those around the university. I’ll miss him, FAMU is getting a good man.  He’s experienced and mature and doesn’t carry an ego with him.”
Lon Kruger – Former head coach University of Florida
“I am very excited for Robert and excited for FAMU.  He will do a fantastic job at the school.  He’s not only a terrific guy, but an excellent basketball coach and will do an excellent job at FAMU.  He has a great relationship with the young men.  In our time together, his strengths were terrific floor instruction, has an outstanding recruiting network and he’s an all-around ambassador of the game.”
If none of that is convincing enough that McCullum is the right hire, listen to what he had to say for himself.
“I’m optimistic about our future; about what can be done,” he said.
But he raised some eyebrows when he refused to talk about how many games he’ll win.
He only gave a hint.
“FAMU basketball should be a perennial program in the MEAC,” McCullum said.
It’s hard to think that he could do that in a year. He’s coming in at a time when most of the top talent is already taken by recruiters.
But he made a few promises that seem encouraging. He’ll recruit as far out as it will take hours to drive. Georgia and Florida are top priority, he said.
Then, he made a profound statement that should convince the doubters.
“This is where I want to be,” he said. “I’m going to be consistent.”