Jon Teitel's "Coaching Greats" Series: Former North Dakota coach Rich Glas

June 13th, 2011
In the latest installment in his "Coaching Greats" interview series CHN writer Jon Teitel spent some time with former North Dakota head coach Rich Glas. Now the head coach at Concordia College in Minnesota, Coach Glas won 335 games and three conference titles at North Dakota.

Jon Teitel: You first became a head coach in 1974 at Minnesota-Morris. What made you get into coaching, and how have you been able to stick with it for so long?

Rich Glas: It was always what I wanted to do. I grew up on a campus due to my dad's job, and I was always around sports.

JT: In the early 1980s you were both coach and AD at Willamette. Which gig did you like more, and was it hard to do both at the same time?

RG: I learned that I did not want to be an AD, as there were a lot of tasks that you have to do all by yourself when you are at a small school. The key thing is that I could take a leave of absence after spending a set amount of time there, which allowed me to take a job at Arizona.

JT: In 1984 you spent one year as a volunteer assistant coach for Lute Olson at Arizona. What was it like to work under Olson, and what was the most important thing he taught you?

RG: He taught me to keep it simple and not let the players get away with anything. He gave me confidence that my own coaching style would work. His system was about executing the little things on the court so that we would not lose a game because of that in the future.

JT: In 2000 you told Sports Illustrated that you motivated your team to play #4 Kansas by telling them, "They put their pants on the same way we do: they just pull them up two feet higher". How did you come up with the quote, and how did you feel after the Jayhawks won by 31 points?

RG: I do not know how I came up with that quote. We had a relatively young team that year and I was proud that we were able to hang with Kansas for the first half, but our subs were not nearly as good as their subs. They played us at our place the following year because Kansas G Jeff Boschee was from North Dakota and Coach Roy Williams likes to play a road game in a player's home state at least once during their career.

JT: You later served as assistant coach and director of basketball operations for UNI coach Ben Jacobson, who played PG for you in the early 1990s. What was Jacobson like as a player, and what has made him such a great coach?

RG: Ben was also my graduate assistant and assistant coach at North Dakota, so we were together for over a decade. He wanted to go into banking at first, but later joined me on the sideline. I enjoyed working for Ben but I missed being a head coach both on and off the court, so I decided to become a head coach elsewhere.

JT: One of the things you taught Coach Jacobson about was "OER" (offensive efficiency rating), which he in turn has passed along to his own players. Why are the number of points/possession so important, and do you think it is an accurate indicator of how good a team is?

RG: The stat that is most important is actually our defensive OER. When we hold teams to under one point/possession, our record is something like 200-7, as we could usually score over one point/possession with our offense.

JT: In 2008 you left UNI to become head coach at Concordia. Why did you decide to make the switch, and what is the biggest difference between Division I and Division III?

RG: I was not planning on leaving UNI, but Concordia was closer to my home and my relatives so it was a good fit. The athleticism and size increases every level that you go up. You have to do a lot more coaching to create opportunities for your players to be successful at the Division III level. They are great guys who go to class, and their passion to play is just the same as that of the Division I guys. One of the nice things is that you do not have to babysit the players as much in Division III.

JT: Your dad John was VP of administration of Bemidji State, where they named a hockey arena after him. What did he teach you about college athletics, and why did you go into basketball instead of hockey?

RG: My dad was a sports nut who helped raise money for a lot of the buildings on campus. Since he was in northern Minnesota, he figured it was important to have a hockey arena. They did not have a lot of hockey back in my high school days. Since I was a little guy I probably should have tried hockey, but I did not want to play outside in the winter! I loved basketball. My dad taught me to play hard and never give up. If you play with a lot of heart and a lot of mind, you will have a lot of success. I always tell my players that attitude will dictate performance. If you have a lousy attitude then you are not going to win a lot of games.

JT: Your son Jeff graduated from North Dakota as the Division II career leader with 82 field goals, and he currently is a kicker for the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. Why did he go into football instead of basketball, and how proud are you of all his success?

RG: I am very proud of what he has done. He was a soccer player growing up, as was his older sister who played soccer at Washington State. One day I suggested that he try kicking the football around instead of the soccer ball, and he kicked well enough to impress the school coach. In high school he made his first attempt from 50 yards, and ended up having a great career at North Dakota.

JT: When people look back on your career, how do you want to be remembered the most?

RG: I hope they say that I cared about my players and that my players enjoyed playing for me and learned a lot.

Coach Glas is also on Jon's list of best coaches in Great West history.

Chicago State: Bob Hallberg (1977-1987): 223-84
Houston Baptist: Gene Iba (1977-1985): 128-96, 1 NCAA tourney, 2 conference titles, 1-time conference COY
North Dakota: Rich Glas (1988-2006): 335-194, 3 conference titles
South Dakota: Dave Boots (1988-present): 483-197, 6-time conference COY
Texas Pan American: Sam Williams (1958-1973): 244-164, 1 NAIA title, 1-time national COY
Utah Valley: Dick Hunsaker (2004-present): 140-91