In September 2021, the pastor of a church in Waco, Texas, that Jerome Tang was attending asked everyone in the congregation to write something they were trusting God for on a card. Tang, then an assistant basketball coach at Baylor, wrote that he wanted to be a head coach.
Then, he stopped.
He didn’t just want to be a head coach. He wanted to be a head coach in a Power Five conference. Yet Tang thought that might be asking God for too much. After deliberating for a few minutes, he added it to his card.
Six months later, in March 2022, he became the head coach at Kansas State. A year after that, he was coaching in the Elite Eight.
Tang shared that very story as well as a picture of the card as part of a Father’s Day sermon he delivered at Crossroads Fellowship, a church in Houston. The church’s lead pastor, Mike Allard, was Tang’s youth pastor and invited the head coach and father of two to speak.
Tang’s message was focused on five lessons he’s learned from influential men in his life:
1) Share your struggles with others
2) Safe council isn’t always wise council
3) God cares about every aspect
4) The importance of tithing
5) Think big because God answers prayers
He encouraged the congregation not to limit in their minds what God can do.
“Don’t be afraid. The bigger the better,” Tang said during his sermon. “If it scares you, it’s right. Because if you can do it, then it’s not God. You want things that only God gets the credit for. I can’t get any credit for being the head coach at Kansas State. It is all Jesus. It is all God.”
Tang even said his wife asked the same question every time he told her a school had reached out to him: “Do they wear purple?”
It was not lost on Tang that Kansas State is one of five Power Five schools that has purple as its primary color.
“God cares about every aspect, every detail,” he said. “You might think it’s too small. But if it’s important to you, it’s important to Him. When we talk to God, be specific.”
Not too long before he filled out that card, Tang had reached a place where he could be at peace, even if being a head coach wasn’t part of God’s plan for him. He admitted during an appearance on the Sports Spectrum Podcast earlier this month that he would say the right things publicly but didn’t actually embrace the possibility that he might never be a head coach until a couple years before he landed the Kansas State job.
With the Wildcats, Tang inherited a program coming off of three straight losing seasons. Despite that, the first-year head coach led his 2022-23 Wildcats to a 26-10 record, a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament and an appearance in the Elite Eight. He was rewarded for his success by being named Naismith Men’s College Coach of the Year.
Throughout Kansas State’s run in March, Tang made sure to give God glory. He said that being trusted to run a program made him even more motivated to make sure he was honoring God in his new role.
“To wake up every morning and know, regardless of what I was going to face or what we were going into, that God trusts me that I was going to do the best to honor Him in these moments, it just gave me another level of confidence on how He sees me,” he said on the podcast.
“God’s love is for everybody and God’s lessons are for everybody.”
— Sports Spectrum (@Sports_Spectrum) June 16, 2023
As he prepares for his second season, Tang is focused on getting everyone to buy into the Christ-centered program he’s building at Kansas State. Year One was about elevating the program. Year Two is about being all in.
“It’s really just being really intentional, being all in, fighting for our culture,” Tang said on the podcast, “and understanding that this is God’s program. And we’re simply here to honor Him.”
– SS PODCAST: Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang on God’s timing, loving his team
– Coach Jerome Tang leads Kansas State to Sweet 16, thanks ‘the good Lord’
– Jerome Tang sees early success at Kansas State: ‘It’s a testament to God’s faithfulness’
– Jerome Tang follows God’s lead as he becomes Kansas State men’s basketball coach
– Keyontae Johnson ‘thanking God every day’ for 2nd chance at K-State after collapse