SPOKANE, Wash. — Tommy Lloyd couldn't help but be emotional at his introductory press conference at Arizona on Thursday.
First, because he had landed his dream job.
"In my heart I knew. You’re going to hear it over and over again—This is the only place I would leave Gonzaga to come," said Lloyd.
But second, because of the dream he'd lived at Gonzaga over the past twenty years.
"The first person I want to thank is Mark Few," Lloyd said, holding back tears. "I want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to work at Gonzaga and preparing me for this opportunity. The way he treated me and the freedom he gave me prepared me to be a head coach, there’s no doubt about it."
As for Few’s reaction to when Tommy told him he was entertaining the Arizona gig?
"He told me, 'If you can get that job, you’ve got to take it,' and, trust me, he’s never told me that before," Lloyd said.
It wasn’t just Few who was supportive. Athletic Director Mike Roth also followed suit.
"He told me, 'Not only is it the right thing for you to do to go to the University of Arizona, we’re going to celebrate it at Gonzaga,'" said Lloyd.
However, Tommy was not celebrated during the search process by former Arizona players. They were vocal about wanting an alumnus of the program to take charge.
Tommy has a message for them.
"I don’t have to be the guy they wanted for this job. I’m okay with that. They should be pushing their teammates, and if they were doing anything other than that, I’d probably question them. But moving forward, I can’t wait to wrap my arms around them, ask them to help me on this journey, and do anything I can to help move this program forward," he said.
Fast forwarding to next season, Gonzaga and Arizona are currently scheduled to play in Spokane in 2021. Lloyd said he hasn’t discussed that game with Few.
"It didn’t come up, but it might come up in a conversation out on his dock this summer," said Tommy with a laugh.
He did acknowledge, though, that it would be an emotional affair if the game did get played.
At the beginning of this story, Tommy said he knew in his heart that the only place he’d leave Gonzaga for was Arizona.
That doesn’t mean his love for Gonzaga is gone though now that he’s left.
"That place has a special, special place in my heart. I’m going to be pulling for them and rooting for them second only to Arizona," said Tommy.