Andy Enfield talks about surprise success with Jay Leno
By AMBER SOUTH
Even Shippensburg native Andy Enfield’s 7-year-old daughter didn’t think his 15-seed team would make it past the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.“She said, ‘Dad, I’m gonna root for you, but you can’t ruin my bracket,” he shared with Jay Leno Wednesday during an appearance on “The Tonight Show.”
With a constant smile on his face, Enfield talked about how Florida Gulf Coast University’s 78-68 win over 2-seed Georgetown University in the first round of the tournament led to fame and a new job as the head coach of the men’s basketball team at University of Southern California.
“Where the hell is Florida Gulf Coast University?” Leno asked, echoing thoughts around the nation as Enfield coached the school’s men’s basketball team to the Sweet 16 and became the first 15-seed team to get there.
With the odds stacked against his team – 15-seeds were 6-106 in the first round, he said – Enfield said he realized few people thought his team would actually win.
But when it did, Enfield told Leno he found himself in an awkward situation — in an interview with a sportscaster who is also the father of the head coach of the Georgetown team.
“I survived the game. I wasn’t sure if I was gonna survive the interview,” he laughed.
Much of Leno’s interview stuck to Enfield’s career. He shared how his success on the basketball team at John’s Hopkins University in Maryland, where he made the NCAA free throw record with 92.5 percent, led to his first shooting coach position in the NBA.
He talked about the difficulties of working at FGCU, which many potential recruits thought was a community college that has a similar name.
He said he realized at his first fundraising event the effect of the school’s 16-year-old age on raising money. He got an idea while looking out over the crowd of 20 and 30-something alumni.
“I took off my hat and said, ‘Let’s do pass-the-hat,’ and we raised $72. It was great!” he said.
Basketball led to Enfield’s marriage to Amanda, a former model. He shared the story of first meeting her at a basketball game and their first date a week later that also involved a basketball game — and her choice of fast-food Mexican cuisine after getting stuck in traffic meant they had to get dinner at a college-union Taco Bell.
Leno held up her 2002 Maxim cover, and Enfield called her a “wonderful mother.”
“Is that what you thought when you saw this cover?” Leno laughed.
A photo of Enfield, his wife, and three kids was shown after that.
When Leno congratulated Enfield on his new job as the head basketball coach at USC, Enfield stumbled over his words in glee as he expressed his feelings about the “prestigious” school.
“I’m just so excited to be here, I love Los Angeles and I can’t tell you how excited I am,” he said.
But Enfield’s mom said the move is bittersweet, as their family and the FGCU baskeball team became like one large family unit during her son’s two years as head coach there. Even though it may be tough, everyone involves understands, Barbara Enfield told Public Opinion Thursday.
“To be at USC is a dream. It’s also a challenge because he’s going to get to build another team,” she said.
Barbara and Bill Enfield still live in Shippensburg. She said one can’t imagine how amazing they feel to watch their “little boy” on national TV. They didn’t watch from home during the tournament though, as they had their own seats in the stands just like they did for nearly all the games he played in when younger.
Enfield told his parents he has been living off adrenaline and caffeine since making headlines and taking on media events related to his success and new job. He is also busy hiring staff who will assist him at USC, and would like to bring some of his former FGCU staff with him, Barbara Enfield said.
Their son’s success has made life busy for Barbara and Bill Enfield too. Friends from all around have sent cards, and friends living near FGCU send up local newspaper articles. Barbara’s Facebook message inbox is filling up too.
“It’s a good crazy,” she said.
Amber South can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 262-4771.