Provo • The BYU Cougars have yet to play a college basketball game with their new coaching staff finally in place, but newly named assistant coach Chris Burgess has already recorded his first victory.
Burgess, the 6-foot-10 former Duke and University of Utah player who can look head coach Mark Pope squarely in the eye, defeated fellow former Utah Valley assistant Cody Fueger in a shooting competition to get the only office in the Marriott Center Annex with an outside window.
The other assistant who was named Wednesday, former Southern Utah head coach Nick Robinson, had yet to arrive from Seattle, where he was an assistant the past two seasons, and missed out on the duel for the view.
“If we had shot from the corner, it would have been a no-brainer — I would have won the thing easily,” said the 5-foot-10 Fueger. “But we shot from right where [Burgess] shoots it all the time.”
• Head coach Mark Pope: Bachelor’s degree from Kentucky, three years of medical school at Columbia
• Assistant coach Cody Fueger: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Utah
• Assistant coach Nick Robinson: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Stanford
• Assistant coach Chris Burgess: Bachelor’s degree from Utah, mentored as a player by Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Majerus
So Burgess gets the office vacated by Tim LaComb, and before him, Terry Nashif, and Pope will take the much-larger office in the middle of the complex vacated when Dave Rose retired after 14 seasons.
“Just for three months, and then we are going to do it again,” Fueger said, before the 6-foot-6 Robinson added: “Thankfully. Hopefully I will be building next time.”
Pope introduced his three new assistants to the media Thursday afternoon at the Annex, and one thing is already apparent: This might be the tallest coaching staff in America, at any level. And yes, Pope will retain the graduate assistants: former BYU players Nate Austin (6-11) and Luke Worthington (6-10).
“I got guys with unbelievable street cred, and a whole bunch of swag,” said Pope, who was hired 15 days ago. “And I know them all very, very well, so I am incredibly excited.”
It also might be the coaching staff with the most children in all of college basketball. Mark and Lee Anne Pope have four daughters; Cody and Danielle Fueger have a son and a daughter; Chris and Lesa Burgess (a former Utah soccer player) have three daughters and two sons and Nick and Meagan Robinson have two sons and two daughters.
“Grateful to the wives — these guys’ better halves are going to endure the torture that we go through trying to build this place,” Mark Pope said.
There also might not be a better educated staff in the country: Pope graduated from Kentucky and attended Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for three years, Fueger has a master’s degree from Utah, Burgess played under Mike Krzyzewski at Duke and Rick Majerus at Utah and has a speech communication degree from Utah, and Robinson graduated from Stanford in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and later earned a master’s degree in sociology from Stanford.
“I have guys that are incredibly devoted to pursuing greatness here, that are fully capable as coaches both in film room and on the court and in the relationships with these players” Pope said.
Decked out in a blue suit and tie, Burgess said he’s already received from good-natured teasing from his former Utah teammates about joining the Utes’ rival.
“Whether I played at this university, or that university, it doesn’t matter to me,” Burgess said. “What I can do is I can sell my story. All of us can sell our stories. And we are going to find the kids that want to be here. … We are going to cast a big net. We are going to recruit some of the best players in the country, and we are going to go hard after them, guys who want to be a part of playing in front of 20,000 people. We are going to get those guys.”
Fueger was director of basketball operations at BYU (2013-15) for two years so he knows all about the place.
“I went to UVU with coach Pope [in 2015], and I believe in him,” Fueger said. “And that’s why I am back here. BYU has an unbelievable tradition, and I am really excited to be back. … I didn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Robinson said he became familiar with Pope when they were both coaches in the Southeastern Conference, Pope at Georgia and Robinson at LSU.
“It is an incredible opportunity,” Robinson said. “BYU is a very special place.”
But for now, Burgess will have the best view of it.