Coaching your alma mater…

Now that Kevin Ollie is the permanent coach at UConn, it’s time to examine other former players who have taken over at their alma mater.

Kevin Ollie (AP)

Ollie has proven his chops as a coach (well, as much as anyone can in 12 games). But what separates him, at least in my opinion, is his unyielding passion for UConn. Athletic director Warde Manuel had some interesting comments:

“No matter how long I stay here, no matter how deep my passion, it’s not going to be deeper than his,” Manuel said. “He put his blood, sweat and tears onto these courts that these kids are playing on.”

Manuel added, “He can say, `I played 13 years in the league, I know what it takes, I’m going to put you in position to get there.’ But that passion about being a Husky, a UConn Husky, that’s unbelievable.”

A look at some other coaches who took over at their respective alma maters:

Matt Doherty, North Carolina — A Tar Heel point guard in the early 90s, Doherty took over after Dean Smith retired and his longtime assistant, Bill Guthridge (the George Blaney in Chapel Hill), followed suit in 2000. Although he led UNC to the top ranking in the polls in his first season, the short-lived Doherty era was a disaster. He went 8-20 in his second season, then failed to make the NCAAs in his third. He was canned in favor of Roy Williams, who has won two national titles since.

Bob Huggins, West Virginia — A Mountaineer in the late 70s, Huggins returned to Morgantown after head coaching gigs at Akron, Cincinnati and Kansas State.  Unlike Ollie, Huggins was already an accomplished college coach when he took over at his alma mater.
Thad Matta, Butler — After three years as an assistant, Matta was promoted to head coach. He didn’t stick around too long, though, bolting for the Xavier job after one 24-8 season. Matta has quickly climbed the coaching ladder; he now is the head man at Ohio State.
Jim Boeheim, Syracuse — He played from 1962-1966, became an assistant in 1967 and never left. Boeheim, 68 years old, recently surpassed 900 career wins.

Eddie Sutton, Oklahoma State — Although it was known as Oklahoma A&M at the time, Sutton played for the Cowboys before he eventually became coach. In between, he had stints at Creighton (five years), Arkansas (11 years) and Kentucky (four years).