Coaching nomad Brown highlights game of musical chairs

Posted: May 10, 2012 at 6:16 am

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Welcome back, From the End of the Bench loyalists. It's been awhile since we last met on the first Monday night in April, or should I say the early morning hours after Kentucky finished off its a fate accompli by hoisting the national championship.

Since then, the Wildcats' starting five entered the NBA draft in one press conference - the main draw of a collegiate exodus that included the likes of North Carolina's Kendall Marshall and Harrison Barnes, Connecticut's Jeremy Lamb just in time for the Huskies' one-year NCAA Tournament suspension and Baylor's Perry Jones and Quincy Miller after one underwhelming season apiece.

Seth Greenberg was hosting a recruit when he heard of a hastily called news conference to announce his termination at Virginia Tech. Larry Eustachy parlayed his second life and subsequent success at Southern Mississippi into a better gig at Colorado State. His predecessor, Tim Miles, took his halftime Twitter prowess to Nebraska. Johnny Jones packed his bags for LSU after former head coach Trent Johnson departed for TCU.

And all of those moving places came into place before we could even reflect back on the 2011 season. College basketball's transition period is so brief, allowing just enough time for Kentucky to clean up its streamers before jumping into a barrage of early entries and coaching changes.

Luther Vandross provides three minutes for reflection, then it's full steam ahead on the same plane as David Axelrod and the President's re-election campaign: FORWARD.

Yet the game's biggest leap forward to date was a step back to the past. The op-ed below isn't to wax poetic about Larry Brown's many accomplishments, of which there are many. My Sports Network colleague Phil Neuffer already laid about Brown's collegiate and professional feats in a column last week.

The point of this exercise is to look deeper, at the historical significance of the hire, the monkey in the room on the recruiting trail (Brown's age), and a nomad's (inability to maintain his interest in a game that has evolved greatly since he was last part of it.

SMU's journey to the Big East was a piece of opportunistic desperation that stemmed from power players' mass exodus from a once-proud league, and that very league's necessary search west of the Mississippi River to find teams eager to jump at the lore of major conference money, television appearances and a seat at the grown-ups' table. What SMU had going for it was its proximity to a major media market (Dallas), its football history and its willingness to say yes. The jump from Conference USA to the Big East had nothing to do with basketball; it just so happened that Brown came along for the ride in a move made for headlines.

The Mustangs haven't made the NCAA Tournament since 1992-1993, yet they have shown recent interest in improving their program, beginning with the hire of former North Carolina head coach (and one-time Brown assistant) Matt Doherty followed by the building of a new multi-million dollar basketball facility and, now, the increased exposure of playing in the Big East.

The Doherty plan failed, but in its wake still lays a sparkling recruiting showcase to the best the Lone Star State has to offer. Currently nine Mustangs hail from Texas, and Brown's first priority is not only going after a typical SMU recruit, but aiming at the state's upper-echelon talent normally reserved for Rick Barnes in Austin, Bill Self in Lawrence or Coach K out east in Durham.

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Coaching nomad Brown highlights game of musical chairs

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May 10th, 2012 at 6:16 am

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