Rick Majerus will be missed. He was a coach's coach. He loved the game and he loved -- as he would say -- "talking ball."
I had the pleasure of getting to know Coach Rick when I was the head coach at Long Beach State and had to compete against his Utah team in the NCAA tournament. Playing his teams made you re-evaluate everything you were doing. He was a coach who could take your team and beat his and take his team and beat yours. He was the best at putting players into position to play to their strengths.
But that's not what made Majerus special.
Rick was comfortable in his own skin. He beat to his own drum. He didn't fit the mold, and he was fine with that. He had substance. He was about relationships. He was not concerned about perception. He was real.
He deeply cared about his players and their well-being on and off the court. Rick was a great teacher of the game, but he was even a better teacher of the game of life.
Listening to Rick's Saint Louis players in their NCAA tournament postgame news conference last season revealed so much about the relationship he had with them and the influence he had on their lives. He helped them get to a place they couldn't get on their own. You could see how much he loved them and they loved him. To me, that is the essence of why he coached.
Rick had a small circle of close friends but was always available to talk. When I was an assistant at Long Beach State, I vividly remember traveling to the University of Utah to scout Purdue against his Utes. After the game, I walked down to get a copy of the film.
Three hours later, I left the Huntsman Center after Rick had dissected the game and what he felt were the keys to having success against the Boilermakers. The man just loved talking ball.
I will miss Rick, not because he was a great coach but because he was genuine and real. He was not afraid to state his opinion and didn't seek others' approval. He was an original.
Our profession, and our world, needs more like him.