This article is sponsored by Delta Air Lines.
When Patrick Chambers took the men’s basketball head coaching gig at Penn State, he knew it’d be a tough task. Penn State is a football school: everything else is an afterthought.
Chambers pegs that as the reason why the Penn State job is so appealing. He loves the challenge, he loves the opportunity for growth.
Coach Chambers sat down with us as part of our “Guiding Greatness” series of one-on-one interviews with college basketball coaches, presented by Delta, and opened up about the idea of making Penn State a basketball school.
“Getting people, fans, alum, students, recruits to think that Penn State is a basketball school is obviously a daunting challenge, but it was one that I could not wait to accept,” said Chambers. “There is so much opportunity here for me and my staff to do it our way, to put our stamp on something. That’s all you can ask for, right? A small window of opportunity: just a small crack in the door that says ‘here’s your crack, you got to punch it down now.’”
People who have influenced Chambers’ coaching style and ability are not limited to just the game of basketball. Chambers harks on his time at Penn State when current Houston Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien held the same position at Penn State, and Chambers heaps adulation upon O’Brien.
“There are a number of coaches that have impacted my way of coaching, my philosophy,” said Chambers. “Bill O’Brien, just situational, I sat in his war rooms, his meetings and I was in awe of a man who just got it.”
Chambers, like many other successful college coaches, doesn’t see himself as just a basketball coach, but as a teacher.
“Being a head basketball coach today, I think it’s about being a life coach,” said Chambers.
The Penn State Head Coach tells his players, and himself, that there’s one thing you can control: attitude.
“You determine how you’re going to react to every situation,” said Chambers.” I’ve been here five years, it’s been a roller coaster. And I had to choose my attitude.”
“There’s so many challenges, so many turns, so many obstacles that you don’t know are coming,” said Chambers. “You might wake up that day and you have no idea what’s going to happen.”
Since Chambers took over in 2012, Penn State has largely fluttered around .500 in a loaded Big Ten. In 2015-16, they won their most conference games under Chambers’ guidance, beating his former high of six.
It’s a journey for Chambers, a journey that he’s more than excited to be a part of and leading.
“To try to take something to an elite level, to try and take this program into the top half of the Big Ten, to try and put our program in position to win Big Ten championships,” said Chambers. “And oh, by the way, have great kids that want to graduate, do things the right way. I wanted to seize that opportunity. I had to take that risk, I had to take that chance. I couldn’t wait to put our mark on this program in the Big Ten.”