The Digital Journalism Blog


Geno Ford: Bringing Success Back to the Hilltop

by: Jonathan Teich and Brad Gschwendtner

Bradley Basketball is one of the most historic programs in all of college basketball. But prior, to Geno Ford’s hiring in the Spring of 2011 the state of the team was on the decline. But after year two as the head coach, the team has already seen more success. Ford appears to have the program back on the right track, and plans on bringing it back to its winning ways soon.

The Return of Bradley Basketball

This season marked the return of Bradley Braves Men’s Basketball to the postseason. The last season a Braves team made any postseason tournament was the 2008-09 season. Bradley has been in a slump the last few seasons, being because of injury, lack of depth, and a number of other things that could make a Division 1 team struggle.

Two years ago Bradley athletic director Dr. Michael Cross was faced with a dilemma. He was hired January 1, 2010 and the men’s basketball coach at the time was Jim Les. After the 2010-11 season, Les was let go and Cross had to find a new coach for Bradley’s most popular and prosperous sport on campus. After searching and evaluating possible candidates, Cross found Geno Ford. Ford was a two-time coach of the year in the Mid-American Conference while coaching the Kent State Golden Flashes. But other then past success, what really stood out about Ford over other possible candidates?

“His personality and communication is a big piece of his success,” Cross said. “When you talk to coach Ford, he has an ability to make you feel like you have known him for a long time. He has a wisdom beyond his years that comes from growing up in a household with a dad who’s a coach, playing at a high level collegially, being an incredibly successful athlete both at the high school level and college level, and then honing his craft along the way as it relates to working in different types of environments.”

Since Ford has been at Bradley, his team gained 8 wins from the first to second year. This jump in wins could be called successful in the eyes of fans of the team or basketball in general. But do just wins really mean success in the eye of Geno Ford?

“Different then most other professions, coaching you kind of are your record,” Ford said. “They hang the big score board in the middle of the gym. You don’t go into other people’s businesses were they have a bottom line and they have to make x number of sales or they are going to close up.”

So wins are important when it comes to success. Ford also went on to say that last year’s team had the highest GPA of any men’s basketball team in Bradley’s history. He’s about the classroom as well and that is very different from many other coaches in the country. Cross has about the same feeling on the matter, but understandably gave more of the academic side in his answer.

“Fulfill our mission and live our values. Our mission is 15 words it’s provide every student-athlete the opportunity for both a distinctive education and a championship experience,” Cross said. “So, have our kids had a distinctive education? Are we teaching life lessons that are an extension of the classroom…and then to win a championship. When you’re in athletics that’s how you are measured.”

With the athletic director and head coach agreeing on these levels, the stage is set for what looks to be a long-standing relationship. It is important that Ford keeps this program in an upward direction for both the students and the community of Peoria. From the looks of it, he’s doing just that and is showing no sign of stopping any time soon.

What do Bradley Students Know About Geno Ford?

Bradley students tell us what they know about the Bradley basketball head coach. For some it is a lot, and for others not as much.

The Coaching Career of Geno Ford

This Google map shows all of the places that Geno Ford has spent as both an assistant and head coach before becoming the head coach at Bradley.

History of Bradley Basketball Coaches

Click on the link to show a timeline with  all of the coaches in the history of Bradley basketball and some of their biggest accomplishments as a head coach.

History of Bradley Basketball Coaches Timeline

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