As of Wednesday evening, no official deal has been struck between Larry Brown and SMU, despite Tuesday’s reports that all things were final. Brown’s agent, Joe Glass, is reportedly meeting with SMU to finish things up though.
An agreement is likely to be reached, but while we wait, here are some pros and cons regarding the Hall of Famer coaching college ball again:
1. He’s been in the game for four decades and his basketball IQ is one of the highest in the biz. What better type of mind to have leading a team into the Big East, the nation’s best college basketball conference?
2. Brown knows how to win. His all-time record is 1,452-1,026, 177-61 in college. He is the only coach to have both NCAA and NBA titles under his belt. Not to mention he coached Team USA in the 2004 Olympic Games. SMU needs a jumper cable and Brown could potentially be just that.
3. He loves the game. Though he’s 71 years old, the passion still burns. As in anything in life, if you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t succeed to the best of your abilities. This won’t be a problem for him at SMU.
4. He fits the big name, big brand SMU athletic director Steve Orsini and the boosters have been searching for over the past five weeks. As one friend with a vested interest in the Mustangs put it, “He’s the exact Brooks Brothers image SMU was looking for.” And image is important on the Hilltop.
5. He knows how to hire assistants. Just glance at his past and you’ll see he hired John Calipari and Bill Self as assistants while at Kansas, not to mention Gregg Popovich when he was in San Antonio. The two aforementioned coaches, who were champion and runner-up, respectively, in this year’s NCAA Tournament, see Brown as a mentor. Brown was in New Orleans to watch Kentucky and Kansas duke it out for the title last month.
Before news broke about Brown taking the SMU job, he assembled a reported staff of Illinois State’s Tim Jankovich as “coach-in-waiting,” former Illinois assistant/current recruiting stud Jerrance Howard and Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland. That’s quite a crew.
1. The most glaring con is his age. The man is 71 and it’s not like he’s inheriting a team that has been to NCAA Tournament after NCAA Tournament. SMU hasn’t seen Selection Sunday since 1993 and hasn’t been to a Final Four since 1956.
He’s getting a young group of players that need some major grooming to be able to contend in the Big East effective 2013. Heck, he’s getting kids that need help competing in Conference USA. This won’t be an easy job. This might even be one of the toughest jobs in sports right now. Is a man of his age up for that challenge? Does he have enough energy?
2. Second most obvious con—how long will he stay at SMU? He’s coached 30 percent of all NBA teams and 13 squads total (ABA, NBA and NCAA). His longest stint was with the Philadelphia 76ers and it lasted six years. He’s a vagabond. A wanderer. SMU needed to hire someone more stable.
3. He hasn’t been in the college game since 1988 and much has changed. Can he keep up with the times or will younger coaches get the best of his old school methods?
4. Do the kids he’ll be recruiting even know who he is? How many times will he have to give the Allen Iverson “Practice” spiel for something to ring a bell? Will he even hit the recruiting trail or will that be left to the younger assistants?
5. Brown doesn’t have a squeaky clean record by any means. He’s had run-ins with the NCAA on two occasions—while at UCLA, a Final Four appearance was vacated and when he left Kansas after winning the title in ’88, the program went on NCAA probation.
SMU has had its share of NCAA sanctions to last a lifetime, so why hire someone who’s not a stranger to penalties?
So do the pros outweigh the cons? Cons outweigh the pros? We won’t truly be able to decide that until a couple years down the road…if he stays long enough, that is.
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