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Penn State Basketball: Plenty of Red Flags About Larry Brown

by on May 29, 2011 12:20 AM

Penn State’s week-long search for a new head men’s basketball coach apparently unearthed as many as three dozen names.

And it looks that Penn State athletic director Tim Curley has now whittled down that list to a solid 10 candidates. That’s what at least one of the purported 10 was told, anyway.

Curley’s right-hand man in the process has been 62-year-old Eddie Fogler, who took three separate college basketball teams to the NCAA Tournament and is now a TV broadcaster, as well as an executive recruiter-type for A.D.'s in the hiring mode.

Fogler’s results elsewhere have produced a mixed bag. He had a hand in the hire of Indiana’s Tom Crean, whose teams have gone a DeChellish 8-46 in the Big Ten in Crean’s three years. Fogler has had a few successes too.

I’m not sure whether it was Fogler or Curley – or both – but their best search decision this far, and by far, has been not seriously considering Basketball Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown.

For Curley, it was a no-brainer. So stop flooding the message boards with not-so-righteous indignation.

As Dave Jones of reported, Curley talked with Brown on the phone for 13 minutes the other day. It was a courtesy call, plain and simple, arranged by a third party. Curley was being nice. Brown was not a serious candidate.

For Curley to even dance with Brown for a BJC minute would have been oh-so-wrong.


Brown will be 71 by the time next season starts – hardly the age to start a new program from the ground up. (Yes, Joe Paterno is older, but don’t even go there. He’s hardly an interloper.)

Brown knows not loyalty. He’s been a head coach at 12 different places – 10 in the pros (a pair of them in the ABA) and two in college.

His average tenure as a head coach is two years, 10 month and two weeks. Average.

His last three coaching stops – all in the NBA, at Detroit, the Knicks and Charlotte – lasted, on average, 18 months each.

He last coached college basketball 23 years ago. A bit has changed, from the proliferation and stranglehold of grassroots dishonesty to a Big Eight that no longer exists.

And yes, he won at the college level. Spectacularly so.

And yes, he cheated while doing it. Definitely so.


In his first season at UCLA, Brown took a freshmen-laden team to the NCAA title game, where the Bruins lost to Louisville 59-54. That appearance was vacated by the NCAA after UCLA players were found to be ineligible. That was one of the few times in NCAA Tournament history a Final Four team’s appearance was erased by the NCAA.

In his five seasons (1983-88) at Kansas Brown has a stellar record – five NCAA Tournament appearances, three Sweet 16s and two Final Fours.

Then there was that little matter of Kansas’ 1988 national championship team, which beat Oklahoma 83-79 in the title game. Shortly thereafter, Brown beat a hasty exit out of Lawrence to head back to the NBA, with the San Antonio Spurs. Why?

The NCAA found recruiting violations were made by Brown while coaching the Wildcats. The violations were so bad that the NCAA made the unprecedented decision to bar Kansas from the succeeding NCAA Tournament – the only time a team has not had a chance to defend its title.

And not let’s forget Brown was the head coach of the United State’s 2004 Olympic basketball team. The squad finished a desultory third, earning the bronze medal and a reputation for a lack of discipline and direction.

So, why not interview Larry Brown?

Tim's name may be Curley, but he knows what any other old Moe knows:

Larry would have left Penn State -- sooner rather than later. And who would have looked like the Stooge then?

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Mike Poorman has covered Penn State football since 1979, and for since the 2009 season. His column appears on Mondays and Fridays. Follow him on Twitter at His views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Penn State University.
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