News that SMU will hire Matt Doherty to be its next basketball coach comes with a mixed message. Bravo: Doherty is a Dean Smith starter kit who jump-started flatlining programs at Notre Dame and Florida Atlantic. Bullshit: Doherty is a spoiled brat with anger management issues who resigned at North Carolina after embarrassing incidents on and off the court. Whichever, the hire will make an initial splash for the Ponies. Whether it dissipates the ridiculous treatment of former coach Jimmy Tubbs remains to be seen. We should still demand a detailed explanation from Mustangs brass concerning the firing of Tubbs.
For now, however, Doherty brings a big name to the Hilltop. In '82 as a Tar Heel he won a a national title passing to a teammate named Michael Jordan. As a coach he sat on the bench at Kansas before matriculating to his alma mater in Chapel Hill. In '01 Doherty recruited fabulous freshmen Sean May, Raymond Felton and Rashad McCants, led NC to a 26-7 record and as was named Coach of the Year. A year later, however, he engaged in verbal feuds with players, opposing and even his own, and resigned under pressure after an 8-20 debacle. Two years later Roy Williams took Doherty's recruiting class and won the NCAA championship.
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After a 13-16 season, that makes it 13 years since SMU's been to the NCAA tournament. Doherty, set to make a cool $600k in annual salary, had better win and better win now. Oh, yeah, and he'd better keep the laundry detergent and hamburgers to himself. Right, Jimmy? --Richie Whitt