Ex-UNC coach Doherty tops Florida Atlantic's list

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Vitale: May-powered Tar Heels win title

Vitale: 2005 tourney memories

Vitale: Assistants getting chances

Vitale: Pearl right man for Vols

Vitale: Early '05-06 All-America Teams

Vitale: Early '05-06 Dazzling Dozen

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Like Buzz, Doherty deserves another chance


April 15, 2005
Buzz Peterson's name has resurfaced in the college coaching world after an absence that lasted only one month. Now it's time to give Matt Doherty a chance.

Peterson had a tough tenure at Tennessee and was fired last month, but now he has the opportunity to be the head coach at Coastal Carolina. Doherty, who hasn't coached in two years, also deserves another opportunity.

Doherty interviewed at Florida Atlantic this week, so maybe his chance will come soon. I can't believe he hasn't been given an opportunity since leaving North Carolina two years ago.

Matt Doherty
Matt Doherty is ready to bark out plays again on the collegiate sidelines.
Doherty, 43, is a potential star in the coaching fraternity. ADs across America who don't consider him are making a mistake. He brings passion, work ethic and enthusiasm. But, based on the end of his tenure with the Tar Heels, it seems Doherty was labeled as a guy who's tough to get along with – and that's ludicrous. I don't buy that at all.

I've got to believe there's an AD out there with the guts and the vision to give Doherty a chance.

Just give a call to Notre Dame AD Kevin White or former Kansas AD Bob Frederick and ask about Doherty. They'll tell you about Doherty's positive qualities as a person and a coach. Before becoming North Carolina's head coach in 2000, Doherty was head coach at Notre Dame for one season, and he was an assistant at Kansas for seven years under current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.

Both Doherty and Peterson played for legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith (Doherty graduated in 1984, Peterson in '86).

North Carolina stands tall today as the 2005 national champion – the fourth NCAA title in school history – and Doherty is one of the major reasons why. His unbelievable work ethic helped him recruit the blue-chip class featuring the Big Three of Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants (who is heading to the NBA a year early).

Williams has acknowledged as much, saying that Doherty played a big role in UNC's success this year and that he hopes his former assistant gets the chance to coach again.

I say all this from my heart because I really feel that Doherty belongs on the sidelines as a coach at the collegiate level.

I'll tell you, it was good to see that Peterson was able to bounce back so quickly. Having Dean Smith and Roy Williams in your corner certainly doesn't hurt. Bruce Pearl, who coached Wisconsin-Milwaukee to the Sweet 16 this year, has replaced Peterson at Tennessee.

I know from personal experience how difficult it is to be axed. It's unbelievably hard trying to bounce back after getting the ziggy. Believe me, I know, because I was fired by the Pistons in 1979. You try like crazy, you call people, you beg, you plead, you try to reach out – but nobody calls you back.

It was one of the toughest times I've been through. The only people who stay at your side are members of your family, but everyone else seems to disappear. As you're going along, you think you're developing loads of friends, but you're actually developing associates.

It's unbelievably hard trying to bounce back. ... Believe me, I know, because I was fired by the Pistons in 1979.
I tried and tried, and I was very lucky that along came this new cable network, ESPN, to give me a golden opportunity in broadcasting.

Yes, I was part of the team that broadcast ESPN's first-ever college basketball game on Dec. 5, 1979!

I didn't know then how career- and life-changing it would be. Yes, it's been a journey that I absolutely treasure, with beautiful people on every level – people behind the scenes and people on camera who have helped me tremendously.

And I got a chance to coach again, too – on TV. After 26 years as a broadcaster for ESPN, I'm undefeated, baby – hey, I have a better record than Duke's Coach K! Yes, I have an unblemished record and I've won more national titles than Mike Krzyzewski himself. Just kidding, obviously, but let me tell you, it's been a great ride.

I'm glad that Peterson has another opportunity to coach, and I hope Doherty gets his chance soon.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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