Friday, March 05, 2004

Coach Karl?

Latest entry into UNLV basketball coaching rumor mill: George Karl, whose often under-talented NBA teams won 59 percent of their games in his 16 years as a head coach, and who cut his teeth coaching professionally in Spain, and then with the CBA. Oh yeah, and he played point guard at my alma mater, the University of North Carolina, in the early '70s. Karl has local grass-roots support, as Review-Journal columnist Joe Hawk points out, and there was some interest in bringing him here before Coach Spoonhour was hired three years ago. Hawk also notes that some boosters are uneasy with the presumed coronation of front-runner Lon Kruger, who "never stayed at a school longer than five years and won less than 60 percent of his games."

Of course, Karl hasn't exactly set down firm roots anyplace he's gone, either. His longest tenure was with Milwaukee, where he coached seven seasons; but he went through three other franchises along the way. Must be something in the water at Chapel Hill. None of the former Carolina point guards seem to stay put (Karl, Eddie Fogler, Jeff Lebo). Call it the Larry Brown Syndrome.

Anyway, Karl isn't really lobbying for the job. He says he'd just like to "talk about it." Because the only job he really did lobby for was the opening in Chapel Hill, four years ago -- throughout his NBA career, whenever Karl was being interviewed, it was a sure bet he was wearing a Carolina baseball cap or shirt or some Tar Heel paraphernalia -- but Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl refused to give him permission to pursue the job. After Roy Williams said no the first time, George was my favorite for the post, but things turned out all right in Chapel Hill. Even so, George Karl can coach. He's only 52, and if he doesn't get this job, he's going to win a lot of games at a major college someday soon.

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