April 17, 2005
Matt Doherty will be back on the sidelines next season as the head coach at Florida Atlantic of Boca Raton, Fla. That's right, the Division I school is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, which has an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament.
Think about how long it has been since Doherty coached. He was last on North Carolina's sidelines in 2002-03, and now he's ready to return and develop a program into a big winner. I firmly believe he can do that.
I don't think we saw what the real Matt Doherty is all about at UNC. The pressure in Tar Heel country was insurmountable. It was especially tough for him to follow the legendary Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge.
North Carolina basketball, much like Notre Dame football, is about a lot more than just getting into the Big Dance or a bowl game. Those programs have special expectations and want to be among the elite in America.
This season proved it in Chapel Hill, as the Tar Heels met those expectations and cut down the nets after winning the national title.
A new guy on the block with limited head-coaching experience when he arrived at Carolina, Doherty had a difficult time. But he did a brilliant job rejuvenating the program at Notre Dame before going to UNC. Athletic director Kevin White talked about a lengthy extension, hoping Doherty would not leave for North Carolina.
Doherty was a solid assistant with Roy Williams at Kansas and a solid player on Carolina's 1982 national championship team (with a teammate named Michael Jordan). These are also impressive parts of Doherty's resumé.
I am so happy for Matt and his family that he has this new opportunity. Some will say this is a major step down. The bottom line is that he is doing something he loves, working with young people.
Doherty is back on the sidelines at a school that can win. The sunshine in Boca Raton isn't bad, baby! Don't be shocked when you see what he is capable of. Sidney Green led FAU to the NCAA Tournament in 2002.
This is a happy moment for Doherty. Athletic director Craig Angelos made the right move, and there were a number of quality candidates interested in the job.
Doherty is back on the sidelines. It is a great moment for the people at Florida Atlantic.
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.