Bobby Cremins was laying down the law during layup drills Wednesday at the Riverview Activity Center.
"If you miss, you give me five push-ups," Cremins warned in his familiar Bronx brogue.
This is where Cremins belongs, on the basketball court, working with young players. But in the year since Cremins traded in his whistle and sneakers for tee times and soft spikes, court time has become a rarity for the coach who remains synonymous with Georgia Tech basketball.
"I do miss the action and the adrenaline, and I miss all the relationships with the kids," Cremins admits.
Any regrets? Not a one.
"Last year, I knew I didn't want to coach," he said. "I knew I needed to take a year off and get away from Georgia Tech. It was time for me to leave."
The question now is, when will it be time for Cremins to return to coaching? His pursuit of the South Carolina vacancy in the spring proved that the business isn't entirely out of his blood.
But it will take something special to bring Bobby back from the beach.
"The quality of my life is great in Hilton Head," he said. "I enjoy the free time and get to do a lot of neat things.
"This year will be interesting. I tried to get involved in a job at South Carolina. I had some other offers that were intriguing, but I wasn't ready to pull the trigger."
When he's not trying to become the next Frank McGuire, Cremins is busy trying to become the next Al McGuire. A year spent analyzing games with Fox Sports helped satisfy Cremins' basketball jones.
Now he wants to see how far he can stretch this new line of work.
"I'm working toward a TV career right now, with the possibility of one day getting back into coaching," he said. "It keeps me close to the game, and the coaches treat me great."
It's a great life if you can get it. Cremins leaves the golf courses and tennis courts of Hilton Head behind him on Friday afternoons and travels to far-flung college towns to get his hoops fix. He watches two teams practice, offers insight during the game then returns home without any tape to review or boosters to answer to.
"When the game is over, the stress is a lot easier on me," he said.
The stress that built up during 19 years at Georgia Tech and 25 years as a head coach isn't going to keep Cremins away forever. He's only 53, after all. There's a lot of coaching life left under his familiar white crown.
"You never know what's going to happen," he said. "If there's a right program that's a good fit for me, I'm definitely going to consider it. I'd have to give up a lot of the lifestyle I'm living right now, but I'd be willing to do that for the right situation."
Cremins hoped South Carolina would be that situation. He played point guard there for three years and accepted the coaching job at his alma mater in 1993, only to change his mind and return to Georgia Tech.
That experience didn't help his chances this time around, when the Gamecocks selected former Wake Forest coach Dave Odom instead of Cremins.
"I thought the South Carolina thing was perfect for me, but up front I knew it was an uphill battle because there were some people still upset with me about my flip-flop," he said. "But after a few people turned it down I got kind of excited. But they wound up with a great coach in Dave Odom."
One day soon, some college program will be saying the same thing about Cremins. If I'm wrong, I'll give you five push-ups.
Reach Scott Michaux at (706) 823-3219.
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