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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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4 takeaways from Thursday’s press conference

Coach+Blair+emphasized+that+he+would+not+let+his+retirement+get+in+the+way+of+this+season+and+that+he+planned+on+taking+this+team+as+far+as+they+can+go%2C+before+declaring+that+he+wants+to+go+out+on+top.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Coach Blair emphasized that he would not let his retirement get in the way of this season and that he planned on taking this team as far as they can go, before declaring that he “wants to go out on top.”

Texas A&M women’s basketball coach has catapulted himself into the A&M record books, logging 430 wins and only 170 losses during his tenure in Aggieland. Blair, 76, announced on Thursday, Oct. 29 that the 2021-22 campaign will be his last; Blair will enter retirement following the season slate.
Here’s what we learned:
What Aggieland means to Blair
Throughout his 18 seasons at Reed Arena, the Basketball Hall of Fame member has become a key member of the Aggie family. In his office, he is surrounded by photos of current and former players alike. While Blair is set to retire, the Dallas native said he is not done in College Station and will be returning to Reed Arena in the stands.
Blair added that his program has helped prove that A&M is successful at more than just football, and College Station will always be home to him.
“This school is more than just a football school,” Blair said. “It wins in everything, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We win, we are a destination school … This is my destination, I will always be in the stands following every one of you. This will always be my home.”
Going out on his terms
In the world of collegiate coaching, it is rare to have a coach leave on his own terms. This is no different at A&M, with former head baseball coach Rob Childress’s contract being unrenewed following the 2020 season and former head football coach Kevin Sumlin being fired in 2017. This was not the case for Blair, who made the choice himself to retire following the end of the upcoming season.
Blair said his conversation with his family and decision to retire was made with him wanting to return for another season, desiring to take the Aggies to the 2022 NCAA Tournament and play at Reed Arena full capacity.
“I did it the right way. I did it the Aggie way,” Blair said. “I knew when to go. I didn’t want to be pushed out or told to go. I want to go out on top, and that’s where this program is.”
NCAA hopes
Blair further stressed his desire to take the maroon and white to postseason play. The winningest coach in A&M history is no stranger to what it takes to win a National Championship, having won the title in 2011 after defeating then-No. 9 Notre Dame. In 2021, Blair led the Aggies to the Sweet 16, before falling 74-59 to then-No. 11 Arizona.
Blair said he wants to take this team, and “not the 2011 team,” all the way.
“I want to take this team as far as we can take it,” Blair said. “And it’s gonna be a ‘we.’ The brand of Texas A&M is at an all time high. It’s all the relationships, preparation, everything that’s been done to make this place work. This program and university is in great hands.”
The future of A&M women’s basketball
Long-time assistant coach Kelly Bond-White will be monumental to A&M women’s basketball moving forward, Blair said as he advocated for her to take his position in the following year. But before that, Blair has to get through the 2021-22 season campaign. Prior to the SEC Tournament, A&M has to play 30 games, including against the University of Texas at Reed Arena on Sunday, Dec. 5 for the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Texas A&M Director of Athletics Ross Bjork said while the future of A&M women’s basketball is of the utmost importance, celebrating Blair and his achievements take precedence.
“We’ve got plenty of time for that,” Bjork said. “The great thing about the timing from only that perspective is you have all season to analyze, look at the landscape of college basketball, see what coaches are out there, see what the future holds and be able to analyze what that landscape is. To me, that’s the least of my worries. What we want to do is make sure Coach is celebrated.”

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