Pastner is the new basketball coach at Georgia Tech after a seven-year run at Memphis.
When he met with Yellow Jackets beat writer Ken Sugiura of AJC.com, he said: “My first question to anyone I (might) hire is, ‘Do you golf?’ If they say, ‘Yes,’ you can’t work for me, because that means five hours on a Sunday or on a Saturday. Can’t. Don’t want it. That’s for my assistant coaches. Any of my assistant coaches, if they’re golfers, not working for me.”
At least the statement made it easy to, well, handicap the field of possible assistants.
The AJC story mentioned Pastner would bypass only those who play “regularly,” but that part got overlooked. The reaction was swift among golf media members.
The esteemed Ron Green Jr. tweeted : “New Ga. Tech hoops coach Josh Pastner won’t hire assistants who play golf b/c he wants their full focus on the job. Are movies out too?”
SI’s Alan Shipnuck replied wryly: “Who would let their son play for such a monster?”
Five days later Pastner tweeted out a photo of himself on a practice range with Georgia Tech golf coach Bruce Heppler: “Got some great tips from Coach Heppler today — Totally elevated my golf game.”
A piece on GolfChannel.com responded: “Maybe his public relations staff wanted to have a word. Maybe he realized the error of his ways. Or maybe he’s just a huge hypocrite.”
Nah, Pastner was just having some fun with Bogey-gate.
“Thank God I didn’t say anything really controversial,” he said in a phone interview with the Chicago Tribune. “Look, I love golf. I played it when I was younger. I have great respect for the skill it takes to play at the highest level.
“What I said was more a figure of speech. George Raveling once said: ‘If an assistant coach has a 2-handicap, that means he’s spending too much time on the golf course and not enough on recruiting.’ If you own a set of clubs, you can work for me. If you want to play 18 holes every weekend, you can’t work for me. This is a major rebuild, and it will be an absolute grind seven days a week.”
The Yellow Jackets did go 21-15 last season under coach Brian Gregory, reaching the NIT quarterfinals. But Georgia Tech has not made the NCAA tournament since 2010.
While at Memphis, Pastner actually lived on a golf course, near the 18th tee at TPC Southwind. He attended the PGA event there, the FedEx St. Jude Classic, every year.
Asked about noted coach/golfers such as Roy Williams, Bruce Pearl and Chris Collins, Pastner replied: “Roy is in the Hall of Fame. Bruce has won 500 games (488, to be exact). Chris, I love him. He has (Northwestern) going in the right direction. I’m not in any of those positions yet.”
And he has yet to make a hire for any of the positions on his staff.
“Everyone is texting me: ‘Coach, I don’t golf!’” Pastner said with a chuckle.
Will he actually ask candidates if they play?
“I need to check with HR,” he replied, “to see if I can ask them that.”