Now that “As The Roy Turns” is finally over, North Carolina has to get down to business and find a coach that actually wants to be in Chapel Hill.
An easy task, right? After all, every coach in the country should be clamoring for this high-profile job, right? Well, maybe not everyone.
After Roy Williams turned down the North Carolina job the day before the summer recruiting period started, Tar Heel fans then found out that Eddie
Fogler decided that he wanted to stay at South Carolina. Okay, staying at a program like Kansas is one thing but staying at South Carolina? Is Lou Holtz
that good of a recruiter that he can keep the basketball coach from leaving and taking the North Carolina job?
Fogler probably didn’t want to face the scrutiny waiting for him in Chapel Hill. He was probably at the top of Dean Smith’s list but the Tar Heel fans
were not exactly overwhelmed with the thought of Fogler leading their team. They are wanting someone with a little more charisma. Someone who would stand
up to Mike Kryzewski and the dreaded Dukies when things got tough. Someone like Roy Williams.
Now, the Tar Heels are faced with the daunting task of finding a coach from a dilapidated list. Who’s left? First and foremost, Larry Brown. North
Carolina needs Larry Brown. They need someone who can come in and wipe the egg off the face of the program left there by Williams’ rejection.
Larry Brown is just the man for the job.
This is the man who brought the Clippers to respectability or at least the closest thing to respectability that the Clippers can be. This is
the man who resurrected the struggling Pacers and had success at San Antonio, Philadelphia and UCLA. This is a man who won a national championship
at Kansas with Scooter Barry. Okay, he had Danny Manning too but the point is that Brown is a proven coach who has won on every level. He’s a Tar
Heel who, like most Tar Heels, has stayed close to the program. He understands what the difference is between a “team” and a “program.” Despite his
vast experience he can still relate to today’s players no matter what Allen Iverson might say.
He will bring energy and charisma to a program that needs energy and charisma. They have talent. They have had legends. Only Brown will understand
how to deal with coaching at a program where you walk into work everyday and see the person whose name is on the building where your team plays.
Coaching with Dean Smith over your shoulder is not an easy task. He built the program and he’s still there helping to run it. Guthridge did an
admiral job of handling the situation. A younger coach like Matt Doherty, may not be able to handle the situation as well. A free-spirited,
renegade coach like George Karl, would probably not be able to handle it as well either.
Doherty and Karl are the two other coaches mentioned as candidates on the Carolina list. Both have excellent qualities. Karl has energy,
grittiness, and toughness. Doherty brings youth, passion and a link to an era in Tar Heel history that evokes fond memories for Tar Heels fans everywhere.
Yet, Karl has never coached in college and his image may not be suitable for the boosters in Chapel Hill. Doherty has only been the head of his
own program for one year. Notre Dame showed marked improvement last year but they didn’t make the NCAA tournament. Would the Tar Heels really want
to hire a coach who hasn’t lead a team into battle in 1 NCAA tournament game? Probably not.
That leaves Brown as the man. The 76’ers and Allen Iverson have given Brown permission to talk to the Tar Heels. He is supposed to visit
Chapel Hill sometime this week. He would probably have to take a cut in pay but it may be worth it to go back to his alma mater and leave an
NBA scene that is currently run by superstars and their entourages.
Would he stay long? Maybe. Maybe not. Brown has never stayed too long in one place. He would probably stay long enough to retire there.
That would give time to Doherty and other coaches of the Tar Heel family (i.e. Buzz Peterson) to mature and gain experience. In the meantime,
Brown could bring character, class and respectability to a program that badly needs to save face. Oh yeah, and maybe, just maybe, a championship or two.