If the Final Four coaches were to play a game of two-on-two this weekend in Glendale, it wouldn’t be great basketball. Semifinal opponents Gonzaga and South Carolina are coached by guys who did not play in college, Mark Few and Frank Martin. North Carolina’s Roy Williams played just one year on UNC’s JV squad, while Oregon coach Dana Altman played at a junior college in Nebraska and Division II Eastern New Mexico. “I didn’t have many highlights as a player,” Altman said Monday on a conference call. “I was awful. I would have sure hated to coach me, that’s for sure.”
Jim Boeheim returns from his suspension to coach Syracuse on Saturday, thus ending Mike Hopkins’ nine-game tenure as head coach. But Hopkins will take over once Boeheim retires. The “head coach in waiting” agreement is not unique to Syracuse. Gonzaga, San Diego State, and SMU have similar arrangements.
I spoke to coaches at several of these schools as well as previous coaches in waiting, several of whom replaced their fathers, for a feature story in the latest Basketball Times.