- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 12, 2000

Dennis Miller withdrew his name from the North Carolina basketball sweepstakes.

That left Matt Doherty, Brad Daugherty and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Not too long ago, Chapel Hill had the best job opening in America. It soon became just another job in the service industry waiting to be filled by recent arrivals to these shores, legal or otherwise.

This couldn't happen to a more smug college basketball program, with the possible exception of Duke's.

Dean Smith did not invent basketball. He did invent the four-corner offense, which, with an assist from Terry Holland, led to the shot clock, thank goodness.

Who wants to be a millionaire?

Everyone wants to be a millionaire.

But hardly anyone wanted to be the next basketball coach of the Tar Heels.

Roy Williams, Eddie Fogler, Larry Brown and George Karl elected to stay where they are.

In Brown's case, that means joined at the hip to Allen Iverson.

Brown is the nomadic spirit with the professorial bent, Iverson the hip-hop devotee whose multiple tattoos sometimes merit an airbrushing from the NBA's photography department.

Indigestion is not restricted to the NBA.

Bill Guthridge opted out of the North Carolina job after three seasons, citing a lack of energy. Hardly a tear was shed in his passing. A vocal faction believed his tenure was half a season too long. That was before the Tar Heels wound up in the Final Four for the second time in three seasons.

They recite wins and losses in college basketball. They do not recite grade-point averages.

The hypocrisy goes unnoticed until a school's academic fraudulence shows up in the newspapers and filters to the airwaves. News organizations usually hold their noses and play along. It is culturally biased to note the mangled sentences of the undergraduates anyway.

Karl's candidacy inspired a certain uneasiness. He has shown he can coach. Yet he has not shown he can recruit, largely because he has had the good sense to diagram plays for players being paid above the table.

Recruiting is a synonym for groveling. Identifying the best high school players in the nation is the easy part. The hard part is getting down on all fours in their homes and wagging your tail.

Recruiting is most of the deal in college basketball, which is why the Tar Heels rarely have anything to fear from UNC Wilmington, UNC Asheville, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro and the like.

Genius in college basketball is a plea and a signature on a letter-of-intent. Good marketing and lots of games on ESPN also help.

The self-appointed guardians of the game Billy Packer is one example have never met a coach they couldn't credit with splitting the atom. This close-knit fraternity also is working to save the whales and end world hunger.

At least the hype provides a soft landing spot for Doherty. He is the best possible choice, although down the list.

The powers-that-be in Chapel Hill dug ever deeper into their files, and anyone with a past connection to the program was a potential candidate, including the team's ex-bus drivers.

Michael Jordan's name failed to surface, possibly because he lives at 35,000 feet, in the air space between Chicago and Tony Cheng's neighborhood.

Jordan is as holy as they come, and holy is not too strong of a word, given the customary lack of perspective.

Jordan already has filled one coaching vacancy this summer with someone from Miami (Florida), and Miami filled its vacancy with someone from Tulane, and now Tulane is in the midst of a national search.

Notre Dame is obligated to join the fun.

Doherty is leaving the Indiana school before barely unpacking his clothes. He put in one solid season at Notre Dame, resulting in a runner-up finish in the NIT.

He took his bows, along with a commitment from Troy Murphy to return, and now he is taking a new oath of loyalty, this time from his former college coach.

Loyalty pulls both ways, good and bad, and that, too, is part of the unseemly college game.

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