Tom Crean was in the midst of a busy recruiting window.
But between two flights to Dallas, Crean was in Athens for a brief, yet significant appearance. The Georgia men's basketball head coach, in his first month on the job, was asked to speak at halftime of the G-Day spring football game on April 21.
When he stepped out on the 50-yard line, Crean saw a flash of potential for his program. Over 83,000 fans piled into Sanford Stadium to watch an intrasquad scrimmage. Crean saw an enthusiasm and exuberance he wanted to carry over.
“I had never seen anything like that,” Crean said as a guest lecturer for a sports and social media class at UGA on July 5. “That wasn’t common for me, and it blew me away.”
While there can’t be such a large assembly of fans packed into Stegeman Coliseum, Crean envisions a similar energy within his program. He hopes the thousands of fans at a football game can translate into sellouts at an arena that has a 10,523-seat capacity.
Crean recognized the need to rebuild the energy within the fan base but wanted to have fun doing it. That brought about the rebirth of Crean’s social media use. He stayed away from it during his final years at Indiana, due to being “sick of the negativity” before he was dismissed from the program in 2017.
Now Crean is on Twitter nearly every day to share motivational quotes, talk about basketball or venture out on campus to film videos with students. Only two of the on-campus videos have been planned, while all of the others were spontaneous.
Crean said he was told he couldn’t build a long-lasting support base at Marquette, but he did after taking the program to the Final Four. Now in his third head coaching stint, he thinks the same can be done at Georgia.
“There’s a desire to be a part of it. It’s about getting people to stay with us as we build. That’s the hard part,” Crean said. “It’s not about initially or when you’re winning but when you’re in the midst of a build.”
Whether it be in his news conferences, videos posted to social media or even as a guest lecturer, Crean has clearly and repetitively stated a particular desire. He wants Georgia to build upon the attendance numbers it had in the previous coaching regime.
Four months into his tenure at Georgia and with the season drawing closer, Crean figures to use Twitter often to display his personality, motivate players and pose more challenges to the fan base.
“It’s no fun to play in a 50-percent full building. The players, myself or the fans aren’t having fun,” Crean said. “When it is a raucous, nonstop, energetic atmosphere — that’s what’s fun. Why don’t we try to get it there?”