Jim Christian hired to coach BC

Boston College has hired former Ohio University coach Jim Christian to lead its men's basketball program, and the new coach says he can't wait to get his hands dirty with the work ahead.

"First of all, obviously I'm tremendously excited and humbled to take over a program with the history and tradition of Boston College," Christian said in a conference call Thursday. "If you look at the great coaches and the success that [the Eagles have] had over the years, this is a situation where you wake up every day and you can't wait to get to work and roll your sleeves up.

"I can't wait to get up there and meet our players and spend as much time getting to know them as possible."

Christian replaces Steve Donahue, who was fired last month after four seasons without an NCAA tournament berth. The Eagles were 54-76 in the four seasons under Donahue, including an 8-24 mark in 2013-14.

The 49-year-old Christian led the Bobcats to a 49-22 record in two seasons in the Mid-American Conference. Before that, he spent 10 years in stops at Texas Christian and Kent State. In all, he has led his teams to eight postseason berths in 12 years.

He leaves Ohio as the record holder for highest winning percentage (.700) in MAC history.

Athletic director Brad Bates called the more than two-week search for a successor "a very deliberate, meticulous process" and said he's thrilled to work with Christian in Chestnut Hill.

"This sport is about recruiting and coaching," Bates said. "You've gotta get talented athletes in here that fit your institution, and you've gotta develop them and coach them.

"You need a coach and a staff that can flat-out recruit and develop those kids with their coaching. And beyond that, we want to win. We want someone with championships and postseason appearances. Someone with New England roots was important. Someone with energy and passion. And at the end of the day someone who was in this for the right reasons, who genuinely cares about his kids."

In the end, Bates and the BC search committee decided Christian was the best fit. A native of Bethpage, N.Y., Christian graduated from Rhode Island in 1988 after playing two years at Boston University, where he was recruited by Rick Pitino.

Christian said he hopes to retain the talent that's currently on the roster at BC -- with players such as Olivier Hanlan, Ryan Anderson and Lonnie Jackson all due back next season -- and to build on that base for the future.

"Without question, priority No. 1 and priority No. 1A are going to be our current players and then our future players, the guys that we're going for," he said. "Right after we hang up this phone I'm gonna start working on that."

The new coach is excited about the challenges he'll face in trying to help the Eagles become relevant in the ultra-deep ACC, which welcomes Louisville next season after adding Syracuse and Pittsburgh this past season.

"I always look at programs historically, not just kinda where they are right now," Christian said. "And I think if you look at Boston College historically and the things that they've accomplished, it excites you. Any coach wants to get his chance to compete against the very best, and honestly the ACC is the very best."

Bates had maintained all along that he wasn't interested in making a "splash" with this hire, and Christian addressed that on Thursday.

Citing Tom Davis, Jim O'Brien and Al Skinner, Christian said "the guys who've had success there had backgrounds just like me."

Before BC, Davis coached at Lafayette, O'Brien coached at St. Bonaventure and Skinner coached at Marist and Rhode Island.

"I think in those days, those guys might not have been considered the 'splash hire,'" Christian said, "but at the end of the day they had unbelievable success and they're legends up there for the work that they did. That excites me because I think that's the goal is for me to be judged at the end, when I've done the best job that I can do and worked as hard as I can."

Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.