INDIANAPOLIS – A short time into his official tenure as the new Butler men's basketball coach, LaVall Jordan was praising God “for guiding my steps and using me for his will.”
Minutes later, however, he was responding enthusiastically “Hell, yeah!” to the Butler chant that culminates by asking the faithful that fill Hinkle Fieldhouse “R-U a Bulldog?”
Both moments were endearing for the former Butler player to the Bulldog Nation, and Jordan knew that they would be.
He knew that, because ending his press conference by proclaiming his love of the institution and all of its facets wasn't some shtick that the marketing people advised him to say. Jordan was just being honest. He was honest in his love of his Savior and he was honest in his Butler pride. That is because indeed, he is a Bulldog.
Being a former Butler player and/or coach (and Jordan has been both) wasn't a prerequisite for – yes, former Butler player and coach, and now athletic director, Barry Collier – to fill the position. But it didn't hurt.
“I believe that there is great, great value in understanding what Butler stands for and having experienced that,” Collier explained of the recent process of finding a replacement for the departed Chris Holtmann. “But it's not an 'only' situation. We considered others. There were many, many impressive people.”
Much has been made of the famed 'Butler Way,' which is comprised of values such as unselfishness, effort, and attitude, and Collier said he used the philosophy as a guiding light through this decision.
“Everybody pretty much tries to do what we do,” Collier said. “It's not like we're the only ones who do that. I'm not saying that. But we do have a huge number of people that live the values that we believe in. So that makes it a better fit for somebody that has had success and has also been here.”
That rationale makes perfect sense to Jordan, so much so, he wouldn't want it to be any other way.
“Why would you,” Jordan rebutted when asked why only coaches with Butler ties have been hired over the past 28 years.
“If you have something that is sustainable,” Jordan said, “and you believe in it wholeheartedly, I don't know if you want to mess with that.”
No one ever displayed the Butler Way more so than Jordan did four years ago.
He interviewed for the same position, but was passed over by Collier in favor of his former teammate Brandon Miller.
Was Jordan bitter or frustrated?
“No,” Jordan said. “A Butler guy got the job. A close friend and family, a really, really close teammate.”
Jordan used that word “family” often when talking about the Butler basketball program. As Collier noted, outsiders sought the position, and at least at Collier's word, he said he considered them. But the “blue blood” of the Butler family runs thick.
“I remember a coaching change when I was a player,” Jordan said, “and the recommendation is always for it to stay within the Butler family. There is fit, timing, and need, it is similar to recruiting. It has to be the right time, you have to have a need for something, and as long as it is in the Butler family, you know it fits.”
'Hell yeah' it does.
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