Mike Young knew things would get crazy after his Wofford basketball team won the Southern Conference tournament Monday night and scored the school's first invitation to the Big Dance.
He expected the media deluge that comes with a fresh name winning one of the 65 spots in what is arguably the country's biggest sporting event. But he was not prepared for the excitement his Terriers brought to Spartanburg.
Upon making his daily trip to the Starbucks down the road from Wofford, he got more of a taste of his new celebrity than he did of his morning espresso.
"I felt like Bruce Springsteen walking in the door," Young said. "Those guys really thought I was something."
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The 46-year-old Young, in his eighth season as head coach after spending 13 seasons as an assistant to Richard Johnson, is something this week after guiding the Terriers to 19 wins in their last 20 games on the way to a school-record 26-8 record.
But he deflects all the credit toward his players, who knocked off South Carolina and Georgia before their dramatic charge through the Southern Conference, winning both the regular-season and tournament titles.
"This is a tough league," Young said. "Nineteen of 20? Come on. This team has been consistent, and that's just another example of their toughness. They do it night after night after night. They play really, really hard."
That the program reached this pinnacle serves as an example of Young's toughness as well. Entering this season, his only winning season came a year ago, and his overall record was 90-116. But he kept plugging at one of the smallest schools in Division I - and one with high academic standards - until he reached this point.
He never lost faith along the way, nor did Johnson, who promoted Young to head coach after stepping down after 17 seasons to take over as the athletics director.
"Continuity is a big deal here at Wofford. There's an element of we're in this thing together," Young said. "Life isn't all ice cream and peaches. We've experienced our share of difficult times and tough years. But not one time did anybody come to me and say, 'We've got to do this and this and this next year or we're going in a different direction.' I trust Richard Johnson as much as anybody in this world. I appreciate working for a guy who's done it and knows what it takes."
For his part, Johnson, who took Wofford to the Division II playoffs in 1994, trusted Young to get the job done.
"I knew he was a great basketball coach. I had watched him," Johnson said. "It takes time to move the six inches from the assistant's chair to the head coach's chair. Wofford is unique in that regard. We're going to hire the right person for the job and be willing to let you grow into it."
Young knew the middle of last season, when his team finished 16-14 and 12-8 in the conference, this season would be a big one. He had the nucleus and the depth, and he challenged his players with a pre-conference schedule that included Pitt, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan State and USC.
When Johnson first saw the schedule, he asked, "Are you sure?"
But Young had the confidence in his team to handle those bigger-name foes and make a conference run.
"I firmly believed we had the pieces in place and the essential ingredients to do it," Young said.
The Terriers are led by 6-foot-6 all-conference forward Noah Dahlman (16.8 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) along with a solid supporting cast in Junior Salters, Jamar Diggs, Cameron Rundles, Brad Loesing and Tim Johnson.
"He's one of the toughest guys I know, and our team resembles that," Dahlman said. "We're one of the shortest teams in Division I, but we go night-in and night-out against the biggest teams and win. He's improved, that's the main thing in my mind. And he has inspired everyone to come in this year and do something special."
Nobody is happier for Young than his colleagues in the profession. Chattanooga coach John Shulman, who took his team to the NCAA tournament in 2005 and 2009, coached with Johnson and Young in two stints as a Wofford assistant.
"If you don't win the league, you're usually jealous and mad you didn't win. But honestly, and this is the first time for me, I was so happy for Mike. He's so deserving, Shulman said. "To tell you the truth, I think everybody (in the league) was happy for him."
As someone who endured the NCAA media frenzy last season, Shulman understands what Young is going through.
"My first bit of advice was, 'Enjoy the moment.' You don't know if it's never going to happen again or if it's going to happen every year," Shulman said.
Young is going to take Shulman's advice. So is the man who hired him. Both of them can't wait until Selection Sunday.
"This is the nicest party we've ever been invited to," Johnson said.