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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

Talkin' Coaches

My spring break consisted of waking up at 1:30 in the afternoon and watching lots of TV. Not wanting my laziness to end, I've acted in a similar manner my first week back on campus. As I flipped to ESPN between re-runs of "Punk'd" and "Pimp My Ride," I noticed basketball coaches and baseball's steroid scandal have dominated the headlines of the sports world. (Something called March Madness also received a lot of air time.) \nI would comment about Mark McGwire's testimony before Congress, but I'm not here to talk about the past. I would also talk about Barry Bonds' recent downtrodden comments on his knee surgery, future in the game and disdain for the media, but I think I hurt him and made his kids cry enough already with my column Feb. 17. So I guess I'm stuck with the coach angle.\nProps, big ups and much dap to Tennessee women's basketball coach Pat Summitt on her 880th career win Tuesday night in a victory against Purdue. With the win, Summitt passed former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith as college basketball's all-time winningest coach. Some might try to shrug off this record because of the difference in parity between women's basketball and men's, but 880 wins is an impressive accomplishment no matter where you coach. \nAs perhaps the biggest figure of women's basketball in America, Summitt has led the Lady Vols to six national championships. She began her career at Tennessee at the age of 22 in 1974, and at the time, no players received scholarships from the university. Today, women's basketball national ad campaigns grace the TV screen, and women's sports as a whole garner much more attention. Women's athletics still have strides to make, but Summitt is one of the main reasons for where they are today.\nAs Summitt wraps up her 31st year with the Vols, many NBA coaches have barely lasted 31 games this season. Their jobs have been about as secure as the probability of Michael Jackson showing up on the time for trial. \nThe Cavs just unloaded Paul Silas this week, the fifth coach to be fired this season. Four other coaches have resigned this year. It seems that once a team goes on a five-or-six game losing streak, their coach's job is somehow in jeopardy. \nCan the coach really be blamed for a couple games of sub-par play? In the Nuggets' case, the answer is yes. Their eventual coaching switch to George Karl worked out well. Denver went from sub-.500 ball to winning 12 out of their last 13. \nFrom Denver's 12 wins to the Sweet Sixteen's lone 12-seed left comes an intriguing story about the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Bruce Pearl and his match up with the Fighting Illini tonight. Sixteen years ago as an assistant coach on the Iowa bench, Pearl recorded phone conversations with Illinois recruit Deon Thomas. \nThomas somewhat admitted to Illinois' offering him a Chevy Blazer and $80,000 cash if he signed a letter of intent with the Illini. Pearl's allegations were never cited as the reason, but the NCAA investigated the university and slapped sanctions on it, including a post-season ban in 1991. Although Bruce Weber, Dee Brown and the boys weren't around in the early 1990s and have continually stated they couldn't care less about it, the orange-clad alumni who will engulf most of the stands in All-State Arena just outside Chicago have a different opinion. Expect the boos to rain down from stands as the Panthers enter the arena. And if Pearl was able to pull off the biggest upset of the Sweet Sixteen and become the second 12-seed to ever make the Elite Eight? \nHe'll perhaps create the best head coach story of the year.

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