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Montgomery still a great coach

SPECIAL TO ESPN.COM

August 28, 2006

Life as a coach in the NBA is hard -- it seems like you are hired to eventually be fired. Just ask Mike Montgomery, the former Stanford coach who was fired by the Golden State Warriors.

I am not shocked at all by what transpired. Remember, Golden State executive Chris Mullin played for Don Nelson as part of Run TMC (Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond and Chris Mullin); now he has Nelson as Montgomery's replacement. Obviously with Nellie available, the second-winningest coach ever, and the last guy to take the Warriors to the playoffs, you can't be surprised.

After back-to-back losing seasons, as the Warriors posted under Montgomery, there is always the potential of getting the ziggy.

I can hear some athletic directors salivating already. They know that Montgomery is on the block now and they feel this guy can flat-out coach. Talk about a teacher, a guy who understands how to put a winner together and in a class and quality way, Montgomery's track record speaks for itself. He represents all of that and more.

Think about what he did with the Cardinal. He went to the Final Four in 1998 down in San Antonio, where he got there along with Kentucky, Utah and North Carolina. Tubby Smith got to cut down the nets in his first season with the Wildcats, but it was still a special season for Stanford.

The talent and magical ability of Montgomery is obvious. Anyone who knows about him and understands the game of basketball will sing his praises. My feeling since day one was he was made for the college game. I'm not saying he couldn't coach at the next level or understand about dealing with the modern day athlete.I always believed he belonged as a teacher on the collegiate level, handling the 94 X 50 classroom.

There is no doubt in my mind we will eventually see Mike Montgomery back on the college sidelines. The big question is, where will that be? He took the Cardinal to the postseason sixteen times in 18 years including 12 NCAA berths. He always did in a first-class way, and it adds up to someone making a call and putting him a big-time position.

You can bet that if an opening happens on the collegiate level, Mr. Montgomery will be at the top of many lists.

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

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