Monday, April 23, 2012

What Can Brown Do For SMU?

The real story with SMU hiring Larry Brown to coach their basketball team is not that Brown is 71, or that he is the only coach to have won both NBA and NCAA titles. It's not even that he hasn't cached college ball in decades, or that he is a dead ringer for Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm. No, the only noteworthy thing here is that Southern Methodist University just hired a ball coach so thoroughly an MOT that he's a featured alum of the Maccabiad Games. That's not what the sportswriters concern-trolling the story are doing is nonsense. Worrying over what Brown's hire might do to SMU hoops would make sense if any of these guys gave a damn about SMU basketball at any other time, ever. It's a mediocre program in a mediocre conference, nothing that sportswriters normally waste words on, and for them to be shocked, SHOCKED at the possible damage a Larry Brown hiring could do is disingenuity of the first water. Never mind that SMU has put a first-rate team of assistants in place behind Brown, including a head-coach-in-waiting with a pretty good pedigree. Never mind that pretty much anywhere Brown has gone - with the notable exception of the raging vortex of suck that was the Isaiah-era Knicks - he has won, something SMU basketball hasn't done a lot of in recent memory. (Last NCAA tournament appearance? 1993). Never mind that he's taking over from Matt Doherty, a coach so bad he failed at Chapel Hill, which means that there's nowhere to go but up - something unusual is happening, and so hands must be wrung over it.
In all honesty, I think this is a great move for SMU. For one thing, it's the first thing to generate national press - tons of it - about the program in twenty years. Money can't buy that kind of attention, at least not directly, but suddenly SMU basketball is on the map. And two, Brown is a really, really good coach, a better coach than SMU has had in a long while. And if making your program better and raising your program's profile simultaneously isn't the point of hiring a new coach, I don't know what is.
(In other news, ESPN commentator Fran Fraschilla is apparently up for the North Texas basketball job. Fraschilla has not coached on the college level in ten years. I look forward to an equal amount of media hand-wringing, should he get the job.)
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