Coaching his son's grade-school CYO team in New Jersey, Rich Brennan had an idea that Mike Brennan was destined to become a basketball coach.
"He was one of those snotty-nosed point guards -- the kind nobody likes to play against," Rich Brennan said. "They often grow up to be coaches."
On Tuesday, father Rich Brennan and mother Joann beamed in the front row as their son was introduced as the new coach at American. Brennan, 40, has ties to the Washington area and the school. He has been an assistant the last four years at Georgetown. Before that, he spent two seasons at American (2007 to 2009) under Jeff Jones. The 13-year coach departed in early April to take over at Old Dominion.
"Seeing all the familiar faces in the department -- a lot of the people that I worked with six years ago are still here," Brennan said. "It makes the transition that much smoother, that much easier. It's great to be back."
Georgetown coach John Thompson III was among the well-wishers Tuesday at Bender Arena.
Brennan takes over a team that stumbled to a 10-20 record last year, losing in the opening round of the Patriot League tournament for the first time since joining the conference. The Eagles graduated two starters and two other rotation players, but they welcome back the nation's third-leading 3-point shooter, John Schoof, as well as 6-foot-10 Tony Wroblicky and a promising point guard in Darius Gardner, who sat out last year after transferring from Stephen F. Austin. Brennan had a front-row seat last December when Georgetown defeated American 65-48 at Verizon Center.
"Playing against them, I know they compete and they defend. I know what kind of effort they bring on a daily basis," Brennan said. "These guys get me excited. I look forward to coaching them."
Brennan said he will re-recruit the three incoming players who have committed to AU. He met with the current players before Tuesday's press conference. Schoof said he would be surprised if any of the returning players left.
"He's excited to be here, excited to build a relationship with us and that we're working to win next year. We're not rebuilding. We're definitely looking to start winning right away," Schoof said. "We're definitely glad to hear that."
Brennan said his most valuable basketball lessons were learned in his four seasons as a starting point guard at Princeton, where he played for legendary Pete Carril. After a brief professional career, Brennan served a year as a voluntary assistant at Columbia before returning to Princeton for seven seasons.
"Coach Carril always said, talk like a pessimist, work like an optimist," Brennan said. "We're gonna definitely work like optimists."
This will be the first head coaching job for Brennan, who stressed repeatedly that American is a good fit considering the academic-minded institutions at which he has worked.
"As an assistant, you always think you're ready. You always want to be the head guy. But I always wanted to work at a place like American University," Brennan said. "I saw the positive impact of working at a place like this, the type of kids that you can attract nationally and internationally. It's a unique place. I'm excited about a place like that."