Forbes Well Prepared
Steve Forbes has a very diverse resume, having proven his ability to achieve success as a Head Coach at the JUCO level and assist several Division I program to numerous NCAA Tournament appearances. Most recently, Forbes served as an Assistant Coach at Wichita State, where he helped lead the Shockers to two consecutive 30+ win seasons and NCAA Tournament berths. In between a successful stint at the University of Tennessee and Wichita State, he served as the Head Coach at Northwest Florida State, where he led the program to a 61-6 overall record. This combined experience has well-prepared Forbes to lead his own Division I program to a high level of success.
Take us through the process of you pursuing and the emotion of ultimately receiving the offer to become the Head Coach at East Tennessee State University?
I really didn’t know if I would ever be a Head Coach at the Division I level and I really wasn’t worried about it. I was very happy at Wichita State, and I loved working for Gregg Marshall. Timing is everything. When ETSU decided to make a change, we were in the middle of a NCAA Tournament run and I was completely focused on that. ETSU Associate AD Scott Carter called me and asked me if I would have an interest in the job. I knew Scott through working with him at the University of Tennessee. That same day, I spoke with ETSU AD, Dr. Richard Sander. Three days later he and ETSU President, Dr. Brian Noland, flew to Wichita to meet with me. Dr. Sander offered me the job two days after that. After coaching for 26 years, I became the Head Coach at ETSU in less than a week. It was a job that was a great fit for me and my family.
You had a tremendous amount of success as a JUCO Head Coach, most recently Northwest Florida State. How has your experience as a Head Coach at the JUCO level prepared you to lead your own Division I program?
My 13 years of junior college experience is very important to me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Junior college coaches have to “do it all” with minimal support while coaching an ever-changing roster. If it wasn’t for Northwest Florida, I wouldn’t be the Head Coach at ETSU today. Northwest Florida AD, Mickey Englett, Associate AD, Ramsey Ross, and President, Dr. Ty Handy, afforded me a tremendous opportunity to run their program. I was able to implement all of the lessons I had learned up to that point in my career from so many outstanding coaches. We went 61-6 and played for two straight National Championships. Most importantly, we helped our players turn their dreams into reality by helping all of them move on to a 4-year schools. My 11 years of coaching experience at Northwest Florida, Barton County, and Southwestern, coupled with my two years of playing experience at Muscatine Community College, helped shape who I am today as a coach.
You have worked for some outstanding Head Coaches in Gregg Marshall, Bruce Pearl, and Billy Gillispie. How did they prepare you to become a Division I Head Coach?
Billy Gillispie is an incredible teacher of the game and coaching alongside of him at Texas A&M was a tremendous experience. He’s forgot more about the game than I will ever know, and I learned so much from him. I loved coming to work and was blessed to be a part of a very talented staff that changed the culture of Aggie Basketball.
Bruce Pearl showed me how much passion and energy it takes to run a nationally ranked program on daily basis. He loved his job from the time he got up in the A.M. until the time he went to bed. He took great pride in being the caretaker of Tennessee basketball and he united a passionate fan base.
Gregg Marshall, at Wichita State, is one of the most intelligent people I know. He’s highly organized and a detail orientated person. Coach Marshall is so special because he is a big-time coach who can also recruit at a high level, handle intense media attention, build lasting relationships with fans and boosters, be the face of the program, raise significant dollars, and does all of this in a first class manner. I truly believe I received a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and a doctorate in coaching working under these three highly talented and successful men.
What are your goals for your program for the remainder of this season?
Our goal each and every year is to compete for the Southern Conference Regular Season Title and win the SoCon Conference Tournament. We want to play “meaningful games in March”. Currently, we have won eight of our last nine games and are working towards those goals.
What advice do you have for coaches, whether it be a JUCO Head Coach or Division I Assistant Coach, who desire to become a Division I Head Coach?
Be patient and don’t expect to “hit a single and land on third”. It took me 26 years to be the Head Coach at ETSU. Like my previous job opportunities, it happened because I did a good job with my current job. Don’t waste time worrying about your next job and just do the job you have. If it’s meant to be, the right coach or AD will take notice of your talents. Become a student of the game, master your craft, study successful coaches, and find a mentor to provide you with knowledge and guidance.