John Beilein discusses why he left West Virginia, and why he's not leaving Michigan
ANN ARBOR -- When John Beilein left West Virginia in 2007, he did so because he saw an opportunity.
Not just an opportunity to become a head coach at a school like Michigan, but an opportunity to undertake the greatest rebuilding project of his coaching life.
"The big things I said way back then, there was an opportunity to go to the University of Michigan and it was a great opportunity," Beilein said during a conference call Wednesday. "But I also cherished what I had at West Virginia, and sometimes you can't have both.
"I love rebuilding programs, (I wanted to) do one more. And the University of Michigan ended up being that choice."
For the first time, Beilein will take the program he's rebuilt (Michigan) and face the one he left (West Virginia) when the Wolverines and Mountaineers tangle Saturday (8 p.m., ESPN) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Six years after leaving West Virginia for Michigan, Beilein seems to have accomplished what he set out to do. He took a struggling program that hadn't made an NCAA tournament in a decade, and has turned it on its head.
Michigan is 10-0, ranked No. 3 in America and it possesses the more talent than any roster Beilein has ever coached.
So, naturally, the next question Beilein received Wednesday was "where's the next (rebuilding project)?"
"There is no other one," he said. "There is no other one. It's been a great journey so far to have been a bit of a nomadic coach and change (jobs) several times.
"But there is a time when you say, 'OK, I really want to stay with this one and make the most of it.' "
Asked if this game was strange for him at all, Beilein admitted that it will be a "unique" game, but one he absolutely wanted to play.
"This is a bit unique," Beilein said. "I can't say I'm excited about any game at any time, because I'm always trying to just be prepared for any game at any time. The excitement comes when the game begins.
"Certainly, we would not be playing this game if I had not approved of playing this game. Because of the respect that I have for West Virginia and Bob Huggins, we're playing this game."
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