By Dennis Berry
Say you were the Athletic Director at a school that was a member of one of the major athletic conferences. Now you were tasked with having to find a new men's basketball coach. The team was coming off an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years. It won the NIT tournament a couple of years prior.
The basketball program has a history of being more of a cellar dweller than a contender in the conference in its history. This was a chance for a solid foundation for the program to build on to turn the program around. Then you have a Hall of Fame coach who has won a NCAA Championship and NBA Championship that wants to be your coach.
Sounds like a pretty simple hire doesn't it?
It would be pretty simple unless you are Penn State and Larry Brown wants to be your basketball coach. Then you blow it.
The Penn State Nittany Lions are known more for their football program than their basketball program. Basketball does not have a strong successful history. The men's basketball team has only been to nine NCAA Tournaments. When they made the Sweet Sixteen in 2001 it was the first time since 1995. It has not advanced to an Elite Eight or Final Four since 1954.
The Nittany Lions have not won a conference championship in basketball since 1991. That year they won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament. That was two before they joined the Big Ten Conference. Their last regular season conference title came in 1977 when the Atlantic 10 was known as the Eastern 8.
So now in the summer of 2011, Penn State is looking for a new basketball coach after Ed DeChellis took the head coaching job at Navy. Penn State is not an attractive job by any stretch. The program has very little history of basketball success or support from the school administration. Who would want to take that job?
Well apparently Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown was interested in it. Brown has made it known that he wants to try his hand in the college game. He has not coached in college since 1988, when he led the Kansas Jawhawks to the NCAA title. Since then, Brown has been in the NBA with seven different teams. In 2005 he won the NBA Championship with the Detriot Pistons. That made him the only coach to win titles in the NCAA and NBA.
He won over 1,000 games in the NBA. He has a .744 winning percentage in seven seasons as a college coach.
He was wanted to be the coach at Penn State. Athletics Director were not interested in him.
Why? Did Brown want a butt load of money to come and coach?
According to David Jones of The Patriot-New, it was not about the money for Brown, he just wanted to know that 'Penn State was committed to the basketball program.
All Penn State had to do was show that it did care about the basketball program. It was not about the money for Brown. He wanted to come in and help build up the basketball program. Also according to Jones' article, it was willing to prepare a prot'g' to take over when he retired.
This just shows how little Penn State cares about basketball. They had a Hall of Fame coach, a coach who has proven he knows how to build a winner, ready to take over their program. They would not have to pay him a lot of money, just be able to give a commitment that they are serious about wanting a winning program.
They could not do that.
It will be interesting to see who Penn State brings in. No coach who already has a head coaching job will probably want to leave their current gig to take that job. So they will probably end up with a coach who has been out of coaching for a couple of years, recently fired, or they could end up with a young coach.
In any case, none of them will bring the experience and success that Larry Brown has had in basketball.
Well, there is one coach that could match that. Penn State could go with Dick Vitale's suggestion and hire Bobby Knight.
That will not happen either. As Penn State has proven, they don't care about basketball.
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