Unless you're, like, in high school -- in which case, never leave; stay here as long as you can! -- anyone reading this blog almost surely remembers former Missouri coach Quin Snyder. Snyder was a one-time golden boy, a former Duke assistant with a law degree, whose tenure at Missouri ended in relative disgrace. Snyder took over Missouri from longtime head coach Norm Stewart in 1999 and won immediately. In 2004, though, Snyder was linked to 17 different NCAA allegations, including providing meals and gifts of clothing to his own players. He resigned after a six-game losing streak in the 2005-06 season.
Also, one time he sang "Eye of the Tiger" in the locker room at halftime. Yeah, that happened.
After his resignation, Snyder divorced, fell into a depression and then went off the grid -- living with Doug Collins, visiting Costa Rica, taking the kind of mental exile usually reserved for artistically bereft bohemians -- before taking a job in the NBA D-League coaching the Austin Toros. Snyder won plenty of games in his three years with the Toros. He sent more players to the NBA than any other D-League coach during that time.
Now, he's been rewarded with redemption: A spot on Collins' staff as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Seattle Times columnist Steve Kelley talked to Snyder about his extreme career arc, and the coach seems fairly chastised by the whole thing, even if he has an annoying tendency of talking like he's a major celebrity merely seeking refuge from the vicious media circus:
"I realize that I've led a very public life," Snyder, who has become a member of new Philadelphia 76ers coach Doug Collins' staff, said this week as he prepared to coach the Sixers in the Orlando Summer League. "But it's not something that I've ever really wanted. I realize it's part of the profession, but it's not something that's to my liking. There's no question that I didn't want to put my life on display."
[...] But, as he planned his future, Snyder kept coming back to basketball. He didn't miss the attention, but he still wanted the gym, still loved the culture of coaching.
"I decided, you know what, I like my horse. I don't want to get a different horse. I've got a good horse," he said. "But there was no question I didn't want to put my life on public display again."
That desire, Snyder said, led to his decision to take a job in the NBDL. Which makes sense. The NBDL is pretty much a pure coaching gig; there's little media interest and no recruiting to worry about, so you can pretty much just focus on teaching the game and winning in the process.
Still, the "public display" stuff is grating. Snyder was the focal point of a Missouri basketball program that generates plenty of local interest, and he was a rising coach in the national ranks when he took the job, but it's not like he's Tom Cruise. He lived in Columbia, Mo. He coached college basketball. He wasn't attending movie premieres in Cannes with Katie Holmes and jumping up and down on Oprah's couch. Paparazzi weren't stalking him on his front lawn. And when you throw in the allegations of violations that eventually caused Snyder's flame-out in the first place, the whole line of thinking is more than a bit baffling.
Still, hey, good for him. Everybody deserves a second chance. Maybe, one day, Snyder will decide the "public display" stuff is worth it, and maybe he'll get another chance at coaching college basketball -- this time with the knowledge that if you skirt the lines of impropriety, it can come crashing down in a heartbeat. That's the Snyder I want to see. Despite it all, the man can coach.
And also, another inspirational halftime rendition of a cheesy 1980s ballad wouldn't hurt anybody. "Don't Stop Believing," perhaps?