Jan. 30, 2013
By Scott Kotick (@ScottKotick), Seminoles.com
2008 was a special season as the Seminoles won their first ever ACC Championship in one of the toughest conferences in college golf.
And then there was Matt Savage, a highly recruited player from Kentucky who would go on to win multiple tournaments and set the foundation for Florida State golf.
And now Savage has returned to Tallahassee in a different role, as an assistant coach, to keep building one of the nation's premier golf programs.
"The moment I got the job here, I just felt like a new person," Savage said. "I was really excited to be part of something again, and I couldn't wait for the next day. I'd get here early in the morning, work out, and just be here all day."
"He's never left the program and he was one of our first guys in," head coach Trey Jones said. "No one wants this school to be good in every single sport and has more pride about Florida State than Matt Savage."
Now Savage's role switches from player to coach. And he can now apply those years of experience in both professional and collegiate golf to teaching and mentoring the next generation of Seminole golfers.
"I was good friends with him even before he became our coach," Doug Letson said. "For him to help us out has made the transition easier and we all love him too. He's always been there, and even when he wasn't the coach, he was always around. We got to ask him questions about pro golf, college golf, and he's always been there to help us out."
"It wasn't that long ago that I was playing and it's a great thing because I can relate to them and what they're going through," Savage said. "I'm still learning the whole coaching part of it, when to say something and when not to. I try to stay out of the way and follow Trey's (Jones) lead, but every now and then I'll jump in and say something to them."
And when he speaks, the players listen. To this day, Savage still holds the course record at Seminole golf course after shooting 63--not once but twice.
But while the career achievements and tournament championships are great accomplishments, Savage could always be counted on to lead by example. It's just another example why he was born to be a coach.
"While he was a player, he understood the message I was trying to get to the other players better than anyone I've ever coached," Jones said. "Some players, you have to tell them why and you have to explain to them the objective. Matt would go to the players and say 'This is why Coach is doing this, this is what we need to do.' He's always had that ability and I've told people since he was a sophomore in college that Matt is a great player but of all the people, he understands what we're trying to do better than any player I've had the opportunity to coach."
"I'm able to tell them things in a way that they'll be able to take it and appreciate it," Savage said. "I try to remember what it was like when a coach said something to me, what I thought about it, and I try to approach it that way."
"He's a true Seminole, and when we had a chance to win a national championship, Matt dropped what he was doing, got in his car, and rode the team bus with us to the semifinal round," Jones said. "He's never left us."
So as Florida State looks to make another run at the NCAA Finals this season, Savage will be there every step of the way.