Which college coach will be wise enough to try to hire Mike Dunlap?
The Bobcats fired Mike Dunlap on Tuesday. Now some college would be wise to try to hire him.
I can't imagine why the Charlotte Bobcats found it necessary or even right on Tuesday to fire a first-year coach who had just won 14 more games than his predecessor did the year before. But this is the franchise owned by the man who once selected Kwame Brown No. 1 overall in an NBA Draft that also featured Pau Gasol and Tony Parker. So whatever. It's basically just the Bobcats being the Bobcats. Make sense of it, if you can.
Either way, Mike Dunlap is now unemployed. That's what I'm trying to get at. But Dunlap shouldn't be unemployed long -- not if a high-major college coach with a spot on his staff is smart and comfortable enough to acknowledge that having a basketball coach's basketball coach on the bench beside him couldn't possibly hurt.
"I'd call him if I had a spot," one coach told CBSSports.com, though he asked to remain anonymous because of what came next. "I might call him anyway and make a spot."
College basketball recruiting, at some point over the years, became so complex (and, let's be honest, kinda dirty) that coaches started hiring accordingly and filling their staffs with player-getters regardless of whether those player-getters were equipped to speak for 45 minutes at a clinic. It didn't matter, for the most part. But Billy Donovan showed the benefit of adding a "real coach" to a staff in 2004 when he hired Larry Shyatt, and it's a lesson from which others should learn. Donovan was, at the time, still in his 30s and coming off four straight losses in the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament. I'm not sure he needed coaching help, but he hired coaching help. A season later, Florida won the first of two consecutive national titles, and though Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Taurean Green and Donovan himself deserve lots of credit for that, there's no denying Shyatt played a role in helping Donovan elevate his career to Hall of Fame status.
We've subsequently seen others also benefit from a hire rooted more in coaching.
John Calipari has John Robic at Kentucky. Mark Gottfried has Bobby Lutz at North Carolina State. Kevin Ollie has George Blaney at Connecticut. Bruce Pearl had Jason Shay at Tennessee. And Steve Lavin had Mike Dunlap at St. John's right up until the Bobcats hired Dunlap away and made him the first person in history to go directly from college assistant to NBA head coach. Now that experiment is over, less than a year after it began. Which means Dunlap is back on the market, and some college coach with a talented roster and opening on his staff -- Memphis' Josh Pastner meets that criteria, by the way -- would be wise to at least see if Dunlap is ready to get back on a college bench, help X-and-O and cover for any deficiencies, real or perceived.
I'm not saying Dunlap will do for the right guy what Shyatt once did for Donovan.
I'm just saying he could.
And he might.
Which is why his phone should be vibrating already.
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