He had only been the Snow College basketball coach five minutes, but already Roger Reid was at Mach 3, his voice rising, the room heating up.
"They put a scoreboard up there and I like to win," he said, not stopping for air. "I don't care where it's at."
It's been 8 1/2 years since Reid was fired by BYU during the 1996-97 season; 16 since he was named its head coach. Back then he was a one-man blitzkrieg, working on his first college head coaching job. Now he's a one-man blitzkrieg, working on his first junior college head coaching job.
"Coaching is coaching," he continued. "I'm an old-school guy."
Although the remarks came at Monday's introductory press conference, they could as easily have been two years ago, when he took a slow boat to China to coach the Hangzhou Horses. Or three decades ago, when he was coaching high school basketball.
"I never wanted to be a doctor, I never wanted to be a banker I wanted to be a basketball coach," Reid said in 1990, when BYU advanced him to head coach.
Monday, it was same story, different year.
He can still talk the hide off a hippo when it comes to basketball.
"You gotta understand this about Roger Reid," he said. "When I was the coach at Payson High School and we beat Spanish Fork at Spanish Fork, it was exhilarating. When I was at Clearfield and we played Layton to get into the state tournament and we won, it was exhilarating. It was just as exhilarating and just as exciting with those young men ... as it was beating the University of Utah at the Huntsman Center."
Ah, yes, the Huntsman Center. Those were the days, when Reid was head coach at BYU and the Cougars played straight up with Utah. (Reid, who was 9-8 against the Utes, says Rick Majerus once told him he was his toughest opponent.)
He went on to log six straight 20-win seasons, appearing in five NCAA tournaments. But his 1995-96 team went a so-so 15-13. He was fired after a 1-6 start the next year.
Reid says he still doesn't know why he was discharged so abruptly, a few days before Christmas. But the evidence has long since been presented. There was the famous remark he made in private with recruit Chris Burgess, in which he said Burgess had let down 9 million Mormons by signing with Duke.
Today, he says the remark wasn't as strong as it sounded; he was merely telling an LDS player his decision would disappoint BYU fans, not that he had turned his back on his religion.
Still, Reid was widely criticized for intimating all LDS players are obligated to go to BYU.
But there were other factors, too. Some players wanted Reid removed. Many fans didn't like him playing his own sons, though one of them (Robbie) went on to play at Michigan and in Europe. When Majerus noted his own team was so white it looked like the ski team, Reid followed by saying he loved his ski team. He hadn't meant it to appear he didn't want black players; in fact, he badly wanted them. But the impression hurt his image.
Also, then-president Merrill Bateman was on a campaign to put his own mark on BYU athletics, which meant bringing in his own people.
Reid left BYU with a 152-77 record, the highest winning percentage of any basketball coach in school history.
Two years after the firing, he was hired by the Phoenix Suns as an assistant coach. When that job ended, he lived off the remainder of the Suns' contract, then left for China. After two games both losses the team owner saw so much improvement, he gave Reid a bonus.
"I don't remember that happening too often at BYU and I won there!" said Reid.
Now the native Utahn is back (actually, he always did live in Utah in the offseason). Though geographically close, Snow College is a world away from BYU and Phoenix. His new job will include bus trips to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and Rangely, Colo. But Reid scoffs at the challenges, referencing his minor league baseball career.
"You're talking about being on buses? I've been on many buses. You play in the minor leagues, I'll tell you what, I've been on eight-hour bus trips, and the next day had a doubleheader. So I understand bus leagues and all this."
Reid admits he learned some things in the past 8 1/2 years, but don't expect him to change much. He's still a speeding ticket waiting to happen.
"All I know," he said, as he was winding down on his remarks, "is I'm a basketball coach."As if there was ever any doubt.
E-mail: [email protected]