As the college football season nears its end, one thing is becoming more and more of a certainty for Temple and its sports fans.
No, the coveted Thanksgiving Break the majority of the student body is eagerly awaiting is not coming any sooner.
Fast approaching is the more highly anticipated 24th (and possibly final) campaign for John Chaney as coach of the men’s basketball team.
Chaney is coming off of one of the most controversial endings to a season in college athletics. The events that occurred the fateful night of Feb. 22 left former Saint Joseph’s forward John Bryant with a broken arm, Nehemiah Ingram headed for a spot on the football team’s roster, Chaney suspended for five games, and the 73-year-old coach’s future as coach more unsightly than his sideline attire.
But he’s coming back. At least for this season.
Almost anyone who knows anything knows that it will be a cold day in Philadel when Chaney won’t be roving the sidelines for the Cherry and White. Rumors of this being Chaney’s last season may provide even more of a spark for the team to earn its first NCAA Tournament selection in four years.
Chaney told ESPN earlier this month that he believes this year’s team is one of his better teams in recent years.
“This is a team that had great opportunities last year to bust through as a young team,” he said. “Now, [it’s] one year later and the addition of young talented players can help us immensely.”
Chaney has one of the deepest teams he has ever had during his tenure at Temple. Senior point guard and preseason all-America pick Mardy Collins looks to solidify his spot as one of the top players in the nation, while junior guard Dustin Salisbury and sophomore guard Mark Tyndale could give Chaney three viable scoring threats to go along with his trademark match-up zone on the other end of the floor.
The Hall of Fame coach is now just one win away from amassing his 500th victory as coach of Temple, and so far he has not shown any signs of slowing down physically or mentally.
The fire still appears to be burning within him, especially as he was last seen giving refs an earful regarding alleged illegal screens by St. Joe’s prior to taking matters into his own hands.
But he is not getting any younger. At 73, Chaney ranks as one of the oldest coaches in the sporting world, amongst the likes of the New York Knicks’ Larry Brown and Penn State’s Joe Paterno.
Icons in their respective fields, both Brown and Paterno have had stellar coaching careers and have enjoyed great success lately.
Brown led the Detroit Pistons to back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals, and won it all in 2004. Paterno currently has the Nittany Lions ranked No. 6 in the nation coming into this weekend, and they are in position to make a serious run at a BCS bowl game.
Other coaches, such as former Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon and Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil, stared Father Time in the face and coached successful teams well after they were eligible to receive their AARP cards.
No matter where the team finishes, Chaney’s undying passion for the game of basketball and mentoring will forever keep him young. Well, young at heart, at least.
Jeremy Drummond can be reached at email@example.com.