One year ago, Brian Burg was preparing for the national championship game as an assistant coach for Texas Tech. This fall, he’ll be roaming the court at Hanner Fieldhouse as the new head coach for the Eagles.
Officially announced on Sunday afternoon, Burg becomes the 13th head coach in program history. He replaces Mark Byington, who left Statesboro to take over the program at James Madison.
In addition to the strange circumstances all sports are enduring with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Georgia Southern was also in a unique spot as newly named athletic director Jared Benko was tasked with conducting a national search despite his official start date on the job being April 1.
"We are thrilled to announce Brian Burg as our next head men's basketball coach," said Benko in a release issued by Georgia Southern Athletic Media Relations. "Brian's commitment to the comprehensive development of our student-athletes on-and-off the court resonated with the search committee. As we spoke to some of the best and brightest college basketball minds in the country, his name continued to come up time and again. Brian has mentored under some of the top coaches in the country, and we know this experience will benefit our program tremendously.”
While arriving in Statesboro from the Big 12, Burg has some familiarity with the Eagles. Burg was at Texas Tech as an assistant of Chris Beard and both got to Lubbock via the incredible 30-5 campaign they coached Little Rock to during the 2015-16 season. The Trojans swept Georgia Southern in their home-and-home series during Sun Belt play before rolling to both the regular season and tournament titles. Capping off its huge season, Little Rock upset No. 5 seed Purdue in the first round of the NCAA tournament, marking the last time a Sun Belt team has advanced to the second round of the national bracket.
Prior to his time at Texas Tech and Little Rock, Burg has had Division I stops at North Carolina Central, Campbell and Middle Tennessee State.
Like Benko, Burg will officially start his new job April 1. Georgia Southern and Burg are expected to hold an introductory press conference via teleconferencing at some point this week.
As he takes over the Eagles, Burg will have plenty of work to do.
Byington left the cupboard relatively full as Quan Jackson, Elijah McCadden and Calvin Wishart will all return with multiple years of quality playing time and experience. But the departure of six seniors - including Ike Smith and Isaiah Crawley who finished first and third, respectively, in points scored this past season - means that Burg will have to look to an inexperienced bench and incoming true freshmen to find depth.
"This is a dream come true! A year ago, this weekend, we were playing Gonzaga for a spot in the Final Four, and today I am named head basketball coach at Georgia Southern," said Burg. "I couldn't be more excited. Dr. Marrero and Jared (Benko) have spoken very highly of the young men in our program and assured me that they, too, are ready to go to work in pursuit of a Sun Belt championship."