Mo Cassara woke up today in the graduate dorms at Hofstra, an assistant coach in limbo and not even officially working for the school following the resignation of Tim Welsh on Monday. Cassara will go to bed tonight the head coach of the Flying Dutchmen. Cassara took a few minutes out of the wildest day of his life to answer a few questions from Defiantly Dutch. We profusely thank Cassara for his time.
Could you begin to describe what the last several days have been like for you?
I couldn’t even. It’s crazy.
How did this process begin for you?
Yesterday morning, Jack Hayes and the president approached me about sitting down and talking about the team and the program and where we were and what the current status was with our players and recruiting and how everything was going. And then after our meeting—which I thought was going to be pretty informal and short—it went a lot longer, I had a feeling they may be interested in hiring an internal candidate.
It really went fast from there. I think from there, Jack and his staff and Danny McCabe, they did a really good job of reaching out to people who know me. I think they started to feel comfortable with the situation. One of the unique things here, like Danny McCabe said, sometimes, when you interview somebody, you talk for a couple hours. I’ve been here almost six weeks. They really got a shot to see how I operate. Part of the reasons is they’re comfortable with the staff here, not just me, and the staff we can hire. I think it’s going to be a great marriage.
Did you have a feeling last night that you might be a candidate for the head job?
I really didn’t know. I’ve been staying at the graduate school dorm. I was laying there in the bunk bed last night and not sure what’s going to happen. And obviously here we are today. It’s really crazy.
There was such a level of uncertainty and you know it’s been a tough haul for everybody at a lot of levels. They’ve been great—the administration has been great, the players have been great—we kept working, we kept trying to fight through this and certainly now we’re going to continue to move forward. We’re just going to keep moving forward, we’re going to hit the ground running. We don’t really have to stop what we’re doing.
Presumably, the negotiations were quick?
Really was. It was very quick. It was late this afternoon. And then obviously we went right into meeting with the team.
What was their reaction?
Very excited. I think they wanted to put this all behind them. They felt very comfortable with our staff. Again, they felt very comfortable with our staff—not just me, it was all about this terrific staff that was already in place.
Have you been able to talk to family members and fellow coaches and inform them of the news?
Not a lot. I’m sitting here, my phone’s ringing off the hook and going crazy. But I did manage to call my Dad quickly and he almost drove off the road. So I’ve got to call and make sure he’s OK [laughs].
What can fans expect from a Mo Cassara-coached team?
I think you’re going to have a team that works incredibly hard, plays together and that’s going to have a real sense of teamwork. I think if we can do those things we can be pretty successful because of the people we’ve already got here. And that’s a credit to Tom Pecora and Jay Wright.
There have been rumors that Chaz Williams is thinking of transferring. Do you think your presence will help keep players here?
I think that anytime there’s a lot if instability and a lot of uncertainty, players are uncertain. With what has happened here recently, that’s expected. I think with the stability and keeping of our staff here, I think that hopefully we can move forward with this group already in place.
Have you talked to Tim today?
I haven’t had a chance to talk to him. I’m sure I will reach out to him tonight and have a chance to talk to him.
Lastly, what does it say for Hofstra that it was willing to move forward with you and not start anew with a different staff?
I think when you’re in a situation like this, I think the most important thing is the team and the players grew very comfortable with the staff. I can’t emphasize it enough: We’ve got a great staff in place here and together we’ll have a chance to really do something special.