Bob Bowman Lands ‘Dream Job’ at Texas, Aiming to Build on Eddie Reese Legacy (Full Press Conference)

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bob Bowman Lands ‘Dream Job’ at Texas, Aiming to Build on Eddie Reese Legacy

Bob Bowman did not need any convincing of this point at the podium in Austin Tuesday: There is no replacing Eddie Reese.

But, the University of Texas’s new director of swimming and diving said at his introductory press conference, there is a chance to build on what came before.

That was Bowman’s message on his sort-of first day on the job, hired Monday by Texas, just two days after leading Arizona State to its first national title.

Full Video of Press Conference

“This is a dream job or any coaching in this country or in the world,” Bowman said. “I feel like we have an opportunity to honor Eddie’s legacy, because nobody replaces Eddie Reese. I’m certainly not his replacement. I’m just the next one. But I can be me, and Carol (Capitani) and I are going to work together to reimagine how swimming can work, with (diving coach) Matt Scoggin, in a way that’s unique and in a way that will propel Texas Swimming and Diving to the future.”

Bob Bowman, left, and Texas Athletic Director Chris de Conte at Tuesday’s introductory press conference

The landscape-altering moves came Monday, two days after the conclusion of the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships in Indianapolis. There, ASU won its first national title, less than two decades removed from the program being slated for discontinuation. Texas, with Reese in charge for his 46th season after his second retirement declaration, dropped all the way to seventh, Reese’s 44th consecutive top-10 finish at NCAAs but short of adding to his 36 all-time top-three results.

In the search for a new coach, athletic director Chris Del Conte sought not just excellence but the right cultural fit. In a grandiloquent, seven-minute soliloquy, Del Conte called Bowman, “the only man who has the fortitude to take over a program led by the great Eddie Reese.” He pointed out that Reese was hired by the late Darrell Royal and won his first national championship during the Carter administration.

Del Conte said he leaned on the counsel of women’s coach Carol Capitani. Part of the deal to get Bowman to Austin was the creation of a new position that unites the programs, one that Bowman hopes can leverage resources that they share, in terms of facilities, coaching and recruiting.

Del Conte said that he approached Bowman with a formal offer last week before NCAAs. Bowman’s reply was, “I’m interested in that job. I’m going to go win a national championship first.”

The massive change affects two significant training groups, not just of collegians but postgrads. Bowman expects disruptions to be minimal, though. Reese will stay on to shepherd his swimmers through June’s Olympic Trials. Bowman said Arizona State will allow him to stay with his group for the time being. Trips are already scheduled – to San Antonio for the TYR Pro Swim Series next week, then an altitude camp in Colorado in May, leaving less than a month where some of the Arizona swimmers could go to Austin in late May/early June.

“The transition is going to be pretty good because Eddie is going to be remaining with the guys here through Olympic Trials,” Bowman said. “I’m not even going to be involved, maybe cheer them on. Eddie is going to do the nuts and bolts of that, and that frees me up to do my pros. So it’ll be a combination of me working with them – actually, ASU has allowed me to do that in Tempe for a little bit, so that’s wonderful.”

Bowman took over Arizona State in 2015 and in less than a decade turned a program with only a scant history of swimming success into an international powerhouse, with a stable of international swimmers bound to be medal contenders at this summer’s Olympics in Paris. He previously coached in college at the University of Michigan from 2005-08, around making his name at North Baltimore Aquatic Club.

Bowman and Reese have worked together many times internationally. Bowman was the head men’s coach at the 2016 Olympics and an assistant in 2004, 2008 and 2012 working with Michael Phelps. Reese was the head coach in 2004 and 2008, as well as 1992.

“Eddie has always been a sounding board for me to ask questions,” Bowman said. “I would come and ask his practices when I was coming up to learn how he worked his magic. Anytime I ever saw him, I picked up something, because he is always evolving. The thing that struck me most about Eddie was that he’s constantly learning and the program’s growing. He doesn’t just do the same thing, even if it works, he changes it. You have to do that to stay up with the sport. To be around someone who’s done this for 50 years and consistently been at the top, it’s a tremendous resource.”

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