Bobby Cremins is gone. This we know. Where he is, why he left, and when (or if) he will come back remains to be seen. The popular College of Charleston men's basketball coach announced last Friday that he would be taking a leave of absence to deal with an undisclosed but non-life-threatening illness. Certain sources have speculated that Cremins may miss the rest of the season, while others surmise that the snowy-haired and charismatic leader has coached his last game with the Cougars.
Tuesday afternoon, interim head coach Mark Byington silenced any such allegations. "They must know something more than we do," Byington said before a small crowd of reporters on the otherwise empty court at TD Arena. "I don't think Coach Cremins knows, and that would be false speculation."
Byington explained that everyone associated with the Cougar basketball team, including Cremins himself, knew that removing the coach from the team would not be easy. After making the announcement last Friday, Cremins told Byington that he planned to turn off his cell phone for a week. Not surprisingly, he only made it two days.
"I heard from him Sunday," Byington said with a smile. "He called me and he was like, 'I'm so sorry to put you through this.'" Confused, he asked Cremins what he meant. "He goes, 'At least you could have had Baru in the first game,'" Byington said.
During one of the several phone calls since Sunday, Cremins' young replacement advised him to, for the first time in his life, be selfish and think of himself. "I told Coach the other day .. get away, get yourself healthy, and then whatever happens after that will happen," Byington said.
So, for now, Coach Cremins is recovering from an undisclosed illness in an undisclosed location for an undisclosed amount of time. Wherever he is, though, his team's 68-52 win over Samford on Monday night (which snapped a four-game losing streak) could be just what the doctor ordered.