Jan. 8, 2005
As the season unfolds, I know that a number of head-coaching positions will open up. Already vacancies have opened at Tulsa and USC (Tim Floyd is expected to take over the Trojans).
It reminds me of two coaches who are currently off the sidelines but who deserve offers. There is no doubt in my mind that Matt Doherty and Steve Lavin deserve another chance to show what they're all about.
Both guys became head coaches in their 30s, and both have been out of action since the spring of 2003. Think about what they achieved at such a young age. Yes, they had trouble meeting the lofty standards set at their respective schools, North Carolina (Doherty) and UCLA (Lavin). But simply look at the overall resumé they bring to the table.
Both are filled with energy and enthusiasm and are waiting for another opportunity. The athletic director who makes that call won't be disappointed.
Doherty and Lavin have done a good job working in television. Lavin has served as an analyst with ESPN, Doherty with ESPN Regional and CSTV. They're getting the chance to see many good teams in action and to learn for the future.
Think about Doherty: He was a brilliant assistant coach for seven seasons at Kansas, working diligently under one of the best minds in the sport, Roy Williams. Then he went to Notre Dame to help resurrect the Irish program. He brought a passion and a special feeling to South Bend.
Doherty then returned to his alma mater, North Carolina, to replace Bill Guthridge in Chapel Hill. That was a tough, tough task -- and he got the Tar Heels to No. 1 before faltering in the end. He earned national coach-of-the-year honors in 2000-01, the first of his three seasons at Carolina.
Look at the current makeup of the Tar Heels: Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants and Sean May form an outstanding nucleus. Well, who hit the pavement to put that foundation in place? Who sent out the letters to help get it done? It was Doherty.
Let me tell you, Mr. Doherty is ready to take advantage of another opportunity. His experience is incredible. Roy Williams can tell you the kind of successful recruiter he is and the passion he brings to the profession. He deserves another opportunity and he will deliver.
Doherty would be a great fit at Tulsa, where coach John Phillips recently resigned.
Meanwhile, Lavin had to live with all those national-championship banners flying high at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. He led the Bruins to the Sweet 16 in five of his seven seasons, but it wasn't good enough at UCLA. In most places, they put up statues of you when you post those kind of stats.
Lavin led the Bruins to the Sweet 16 in five of his seven seasons, but it wasn't good enough at UCLA.
The fact is, Lavin couldn't shake the expectations created by UCLA's incredible success. UCLA battles for the entertainment dollar in Los Angeles, a city that offers people so much to do.
I feel that Lavin is ready for a challenge again. He has a great feeling for and understanding of the game. I've enjoyed talking hoops with him. Lavin would be an outstanding coach to rebuild a program.
Doherty and Lavin are ready to bring enthusiasm, passion and energy to any campus. All they need is that phone call and the opportunity. I hope to see them on the sidelines next season.
Dick Vitale coached the University of Detroit and the Pistons before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.