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Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Finally, Mad Dog has come back to Stanford

By Eamonn Brennan

Yes, that headline is a WWE reference. Deal with it. What can I say? I'm excited. After more than a decade, some of it spent in the NBA, some of it spent overseas, some of it spent as a D-League coach and (most recently) some of it spent in the MBA program on Stanford's campus, Mark "Mad Dog" Madsen is once again an official -- and not just a spiritual -- figure in the Stanford men's basketball program.

On Tuesday, per the Associated Press, Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins hired the former Cardinal star as an assistant coach. Madsen will replace the retired Dick Davey, and will work primarily with post players. That makes sense, as Madsen was once a dominant collegiate big man who averaged an efficient 12.4 points and 8.8 rebounds in three seasons. In 1998, Madsen's play -- including an and-one dunk -- spurred Stanford's epic comeback over Rhode Island in the Elite Eight. (YouTube it. You'll see.)

Why the excitement? It's not just because this news dovetails so nicely with today's discussion about coaches as high-level former players (not to mention the coaches who couldn't hack it, but can still really coach anyway). It's also because Mad Dog presents an opportunity for entertainment not seen in Palo Alto since Tiger Woods was fist-pumping courtside in a win over Arizona. (Again: Just YouTube it.)

His post-championship dance as a Los Angeles Laker is a legendary SportsCenter classic; run a search for "Mark Madsen" and you'll get at least three versions of his infamously goofy, unrestrained gesticulations long before you'll find any actual basketball highlights. As an excitable guy on the sideline for 35 or so games each season, I fully expect Madsen to be screaming, waving his clipboard, and doing that thing bench players do when they pretend to be holding each other back on the sideline.

More likely than not, the Mad Dog has become considerably more docile these days. But we can hope. Welcome back, Mad Dog. I don't often use cliché Facebook quotations and Lee Ann Womack lyrics to welcome assistant coaches to their new jobs, but in this case, it's fitting: Dance like no one's watching, Mad Dog. I hope you dance.