DENTON — Tony Benford is in his first year as the head basketball coach at the University of North Texas.
So is his associate head coach, Rob Evans. Between them, they have a combined 60 years of college coaching experience.
"You know, we've experienced it all," Evans said. "So when we see something that happens, we probably saw it before it happened."
"He's just a great ambassador for us here at North Texas," Benford said about his colleague. "I tell my players, 'Guys, you are very lucky and fortunate to have somebody with Coach Evans' knowledge on our staff."
Benford and Evans have a relationship that goes back to the 1980s, when Evans helped recruit Benford at Texas Tech. Both are from Hobbs, New Mexico.
"It was a big time Hobbs connection," Benford said. "I tell you what — Coach Evans, he was the best recruiter for football and basketball back in the day when he was at Texas Tech."
"The thing that pleased me the most about him is, once I came over here and started working with him here at North Texas, we started having meetings," Evans said. "He had not just sat and waited for this to happen; he was planning for it to happen, and when it happened for him, he was ready."
Benford led the Red Raiders to a regular season championship and twice won the Southwest Conference post-season tournament.
In 1986, Benford led Texas Tech to a trip to the NCAA tournament. His senior season ended in a loss to Georgetown.
The two men coached together at Arizona State as well. The difference there is that Evans was the head coach, while Benford was the associate head coach.
At UNT, the roles are reversed.
"I knew right away I had to have him on my staff," Benford said. "I said, 'Coach, look — I need you.' That was my toughest recruiting job when I got the job, is to get Coach Evans to come over here."
"It's been an unbelievable experience for me," Evans said. "All the years that I’ve coached — outside of the fact when I was a head coach — this has been the most fun for me."
Another interesting aspect to their relationship is that Benford's grandmother is married to Evans' uncle. So in a roundabout way, this coaching staff truly is all about family.