Kevin Nash: It's a Blessing I'm Out

Kevin Nash: It's A Blessing I'm Out

By Victor Lee, Banner Sports Writer
Nashville Banner, June 24, 1980
Former Tennessee basketball center Kevin Nash spent three years in the underdog role at Tennessee, three years of boos, three years of run-ins with the coach, trouble in the dorm. He spent three years trying to figure out what was going to go wrong next, sure something would.

It usually did. Nash quickly got the reputation of being big and dumb, a troublemaker, somebody trying to buck the system.

He didn't like things at UT, and for two years wanted out. He finally got his wish. After a couple of weeks of speculation and misunderstanding, Nash announced Sunday that he was mailing transfer papers to Bowling Green University on Monday.

"People will read the papers and see Kevin Nash is gone and say, 'Well, he never was very good anyway,'" Nash said Sunday night. "Well maybe not in that system. Fans just can't see that it was a bad situation for me from day one.

"You are just a name and number at Tennessee, and replaceable. I found out how easily I could be replaced. Coach (Don DeVoe) isn't crying about me not coming back.

"If that is the way they feel about me, then I consider it a blessing from upstairs that it was a mutual agreement that I could get out of there."

Despite the difficulties with DeVoe, he thinks he can keep from being bitter.

"Coach DeVoe handled things well at the end," he said. "He was very truthful and honest at the end, so it would be hard to be bitter.

"I could never say he isn't a good coach, because he is. He is a good teacher of the game.

"But past that I think he needs to realize that players are human. People have egos and a conscience, you have to talk to them.

"That's what I'm looking for. I'm an emotional person and the kind of person who needs to sit down and talk with people when things aren't going right.

"We lacked that at UT, and when Coach Deaton left, it took a big chunk out of people I could talk to."

Nash doesn't think he was without fault at UT.

"I did a lot of things wrong. I violated a lot of rules and was wrong in that situation in Kentucky (shoving match with DeVoe). I just wish we could have communicated better about the problems."

Nash's two years of debating a transfer were spent with a bitter struggle within himself.

"There were a lot of nights I sat in bed thinking I should forget all this and just work on getting a degree," said Nash, "because that's the real world and this is just play time."

"But then there were the nights I'd have that competitive nature and that just says you'll keep pushing and someday get that break."

"I just never got that break."

Until now.

"Bowling Green is a situation where someone wants me as bad as I want them. So I'm very enthusiastic about going.

"I have one year to make up for three. It is a chance to prove I can still be a quality, consistent player and get my degree."

After three years of not caring, the degree has finally taken on some importance.

"Denise (Conrad, girlfriend and UT cheerleader from Nashville) has finally convinced me how important the degree is," said Nash. "I want my sheepskin now. That is one thing Bowling Green stressed. They said every senior on the basketball team the past several years had graduated on time. That is something UT could never say.

"It was just a meat factory at Tennessee."

After a thoughtful moment he added, "I guess it all really wasn't the coach's fault. It's just the system."

He hopes "the system" is different at Bowling Green.

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