Big STrib profile: Hugh McCutcheon’s departure left the Gophers volleyball program reeling, but Keegan Cook went to work, refocusing players and reeli


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Nov 11, 2008
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Per Jeff Day:

In the first seven days after being hired to replace Hugh McCutcheon as Gophers volleyball coach, Cook flew from his home in Seattle to Minneapolis, raced to Omaha for the NCAA Final Four and then returned to campus.

He looked out from a makeshift stage for a news conference at Maturi Pavilion and prepared to introduce himself. He rested his hands in his pockets and felt a surprising wave of calm.

He had no coaching staff, no experience in the Big Ten, no relationship with his team. The transfer portal was open and his players were being targeted.

When this was over, he would travel across the country to try and save his roster and start the monumental task of shaping the team in his image.

"You'll have to bear with me," Cook said with a pause. "It has taken a lot to get me here."

His reputation preceded him. The wunderkind, who took over Washington's program when he was 29, won 78% of his matches and four Pac-12 titles over eight years.

He was a husband and father to a 1-year-old, bringing his family 1,600 miles from home to face a monumental challenge: try and stabilize one of college volleyball's most successful programs after the shuddering news of McCutcheon's resignation.

There would be no starting over. The aspirations for Cook's first season would remain at the highest level: a Big Ten title, an NCAA championship.

The first match was in eight months.

Go Gophers!!

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