PROVO — In the 17 years that he’s been married, Utah Valley University assistant coach Chris Burgess and his wife have lived in 31 different houses.
That’s the life of a guy who played professional basketball overseas before becoming a college basketball coach.
Things took another crazy turn this week as the man for whom he’s worked the past four years, UVU head coach Mark Pope, was hired as BYU’s head coach.
Now, some options are displayed in front of Burgess.
“A lot of unknowns and uncertainties in terms of what the future holds. My head’s spinning. But every late March and April is this way. We chose this profession and we know what we’re getting into. It’s just the way that it is,” he said. “I take everything hour by hour. Right now, I’m at Utah Valley as an assistant and I’m working with our players that are here, making sure they get to class and are on track to graduate. If you focus your time toward the job at hand and at the same time try to figure out things moving forward with other jobs, everything will work out.”
Among the possible landing spots for Burgess is replacing Pope as UVU’s head coach.
“I definitely have aspirations to be a head coach someday, whether it’s at Utah Valley or some high school nearby. I’m doing everything I can to grow as an assistant and get there someday,” he said. “With (Pope) leaving, there’s a potential opportunity here. This job is a good one. The cupboard is full. This program is in great shape no matter who takes over. I firmly believe that.”
There's also a good chance that Burgess ends up on Pope’s staff at BYU. He attended Pope’s introductory press conference on Wednesday and Pope mentioned Burgess by name, and his abilities developing players, during his remarks.
Of course, Burgess has had an interesting history with BYU. As a prep star from Southern California, he was heavily recruited by the Cougars in the mid-1990s before ultimately signing with Duke. Later, Burgess transferred to Utah, where he finished his career.
If he ends up joining Pope’s staff at BYU, he said he would embrace the opportunity.
“I’ve been living in Utah County the last four years and I love it. My parents and brothers and sister live here. This is what this profession is — you can work at places you never thought you’d be before and grow to love it,” Burgess said. “I have a passion for coaching and making kids better and winning. If the path is through BYU … I love this game and I respect that program. I know how successful coach (Dave) Rose was there. I know how passionate the fans are and BYU has great resources. I have a daughter that plays volleyball and we go to a lot of BYU volleyball games because it’s a fun atmosphere. I love this game so much that I’m excited where it takes me next.”
Pope has been on the job at BYU for only a few days and he has said that he wants to get his staff put in place within the next few weeks, if not sooner.17 comments on this story
“I talked to him Thursday night. He’s probably meeting with the players, the boosters and the students and everything," Burgess said of Pope. "He’s going to do everything he can to continue building this program and get it to where he wants it to be — conference champions and in the NCAA Tournament. He has to be overwhelmed right now because he has no staff right now.”
What is the timetable for hiring a staff at BYU? Burgess isn’t sure.
“I’m hoping we find out the coach at Utah Valley in the next week or so,” he said. “It’s an open timetable right now. It’s unsettling but exciting. We have five kids and my wife has been enjoying the stability living in Utah County for the last four years. She’s asked me to stay here in Utah County, so we’ll see what happens.”