Cal Poly announced the hiring of John Smith as its next head men’s basketball coach on Thursday afternoon at a press conference held inside Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center. It officially confirms KSBY’s report that Smith would replace former head coach Joe Callero who was fired on March 6.
A new era has begun and Smith, the man in charge, is quite excited to be a Mustang.
“Through the roof, it’s unbelievable,” Smith said. “I can’t believe that this moment has come. I’m so excited and can’t wait to get started here.”
Smith comes to Cal Poly with a winning pedigree. After nine years and a Hall of Fame head coaching career at Riverside City College, Smith was the associate head coach at Cal State Fullerton for six seasons. It made Smith an incredibly strong candidate in the eyes of athletic director Don Oberhelman and the University.
“We were attracted to him right off the bat, and he set the bar high,” Oberhelman said. “We interviewed him early on. He set the bar high and nobody else was able to get over that bar.”
And speaking of raising the bar, Smith is now in charge of building up a program that has had six-straight losing seasons and just finished last in the Big West Conference. However, that isn’t deterring his confidence heading into next year.
“You want to keep it honest and real? I really feel that this team can compete in the Big West Conference for a Big West championship next year,” Smith said.
Smith is a fan of the roster put in place so far, but as far as recruiting is concerned, he wants the ballplayers that are just as smart on the court as they are off of it.
“The quality of education is more important than anything,” Smith added. “Once you get guys to believe in that, you can teach them how to win and you can teach them how to be successful. You just have to bring them here to campus and show them the energy I saw, and we’ve got to get rolling.”
Smith takes over for Joe Callero who spent 10 years at Cal Poly and finished with a record of 126-184. Callero led the Mustangs to their first, and only, NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014.