Insights and Observations
Thursday, December 18, 2003
By Henry Hinton
Broadcaster & Owner
of Greenville Cable 7
Dooley on inevitable path
toward another head job
When Joe Dooley was fired as East Carolina’s head
basketball coach in 1999, there were many who thought the Pirates had lost a
great young coach. Turns out they were probably right.
Dooley’s reputation as a top level assistant in college
basketball landed him one of the premier number two jobs in the nation this
past spring when he was offered the assistant head coach position at the
University of Kansas.
Interestingly, Bill Self, who replaced Roy Williams as
head coach at KU, had never worked with Dooley prior to offering him the
job. It is customary for someone in the coaching profession who lands one of
the plum jobs in America to hire a former associate or someone with whom
they have a prior relationship.
In this case, it was Dooley’s image and accomplishments
that attracted Self to the former ECU head coach.
“Coach Self had an opening on his staff last year at
Illinois,” Dooley said by phone this week. “He had called around and talked
to some people and then called me. The timing just wasn’t right because it
was October and I had just started at Wyoming.
"But we stayed in touch throughout the year. Then the
Kansas thing opened up and he wanted someone to recruit the west coast. The
next thing you know he told me to get on the plane and get over here.”
The "over here" Dooley referred to is Lawrence, Kansas,
one of a handful of super-elite college basketball towns and home of the
hallowed "Phog" Allen Fieldhouse.
Dooley, himself, acknowledges that it was an unusual
“Every job I have ever had before this, I was working
for someone I had known previously. This was the first time for this but it
has been a great experience”, he said.
Getting recruited to be on the staff of one of the top
programs in the nation has been the most recent twist of some interesting
turns in Dooley’s career.
After three years as East Carolina head coach in which
Dooley compiled a 57-52 record he was relieved of his duties by ECU director
of athletics Mike Hamrick in the spring of 1999. The controversial decision
to relieve Dooley was the first of many by Hamrick.
Dooley is still the only head coach to leave ECU with
an overall winning record in the last 45 years. He was not hired by Hamrick.
He had been promoted to the head coaching position by Interim AD Henry Van
Sant just prior to Hamrick’s arrival at ECU.
Dooley came to East Carolina as an assistant on Eddie
Payne’s staff in 1991. He was part of the 1993 staff that led the first
Pirate team in 21 years to an NCAA appearance.
joined Fran Fracshilla’s staff at New Mexico in 1999 and stayed through the
2001-2002 season. Then, last season, Dooley was the top assistant coach for
the Wyoming program that went 21-11 and earned a berth in the postseason
Getting fired from ECU was painful enough for Dooley
but as it has turned out, he says, he has few regrets.
“I think time heals everything”, says Dooley. “When I
step back and wonder if I would have done some things differently, the
answer is yes. It was a very difficult place to win and I was young.
Ninety-five per cent of the people there were great to me. If you look back
and worry about it you can’t focus on what you need to focus on now.”
These days Dooley has little time to think back and be
bitter about the way things turned out for him in Greenville. He still
speaks fondly of his days at ECU and reminisces about the times here and the
friends he made when he was a Pirate.
In an appearance on Cable 7’s Mid-Week Tip-off Show
Wednesday night, Dooley referenced his days coaching and recruiting for ECU.
He remembered his days eating in the food court at the Plaza Mall and Bea’s
Dooley was surprised to learn you no longer have to go
through Wilson to get to Raleigh from Greenville.
So time has moved on for both Dooley and East Carolina.
He also spoke fondly of ECU Coach Bill Herrion and obviously shares
compassion for the job Herrion has here. If anyone knows how tough it is to
win in basketball at ECU, it is Dooley.
Dooley now enjoys being part of arguably one of the top
two or three college basketball programs in the nation at Kansas. Allen
Fieldhouse is packed with 16,300 fans for every game and even some practice
Getting fired in the coaching business has become just
part of the reality of the industry.
Joe Dooley has rebounded from the experience and has
positioned himself for another head coaching opportunity in the near future.
Don’t be surprised if his name starts to pop up when
good jobs open around the country in the next few years.
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02/23/2007 10:12:02 AM