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'Painting 'em Purple'

From the Booth
Monday, December 2, 2002
By Jeff Charles
Voice of the Pirates

Career working with coaches results in 'Fab 15'


Listen to FROM THE BOOTH with Jeff Charles live on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. on WCZI 98.3 FM, or play the audio archive the next day on Bonesville Internet Radio.





Fans love to talk about coaches.

Did this guy out-coach that guy? Is the coach a disciplinarian or more of a laid-back player’s coach? What kind of philosophy does this guy have? Does he emphasize offense or defense? Is he fan and media friendly?

I reflected the other day on the fifteen head coaches I’ve worked with at the four institutions I’ve been associated with as a play-by-play announcer. Some I’ve liked better than others, which is only natural.

I’ve always made a point of getting along with all of them. Some of them, you have to meet more than halfway in order to get your job done.

These coaches, they are an interesting bunch of humans. So many of them have Jekyl and Hyde personalities. Here’s a list of the fifteen I’ve worked with and some interesting notes about each:

— Gary Moeller, University of Illinois football coach. He was young when he came to Champaign and probably wasn’t ready to be a head coach in the Big Ten. Moeller was out of the Ohio State-Michigan mold and tried to bring that toughness to the Illini. He was inexperienced in his media relations and it caused him some problems. Illinois had to fire him and I’ll never forget his final press conference before his final game. He went into a tirade and stormed out of the media room. Later he coached at Michigan. He was Bo Schembeckler’s protégé. After some personal problems and a parting of the ways at U of M, he resurfaced in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals.

— Lou Henson, University of Illinois basketball coach. One of my favorites because of the kindness he showed to a young play-by-play announcer. He was always cooperative and pleasant and a joy to be around. He had a great run at Illinois and it looked like he was going to retire. The next thing you know, New Mexico State calls for help when their program is in shambles. He’s still at NMSU and is nearing 800 career wins at age 68. He owned an ice cream shop in Champaign and the locals always debated about whether or not he wore a wig. He still has the “Lou Do.” Remember his public feud with Bobby Knight? He was one of the few who confronted Knight. Lou has a daughter who lives in Greenville. He lost his only son a tragic automobile accident a number of years ago.

— Dick Sheridan, Furman football coach. Most of you remember him from his North Carolina State days. Dick had great success at Furman and his organizational skills were excellent. The Diamond “F” on the Furman Helmets epitomized the class he brought to the program. He was good to work with and — after a good run at State — he is now in private business in Myrtle Beach.

— Jene Davis, Furman basketball coach. He’s probably the guy you’ve never heard of. A Bobby Knight disciple, he came to Furman after serving as a Knight assistant in Bloomington. He was just a wrong fit. Furman had to let him go and I believe he’s now in Columbus, OH, in the real estate business.

— Bill Dooley, Virginia Tech football coach. I will always be grateful to him for the opportunity he gave me at Tech. Coach was old school. It was either black or white and not much gray in between. He was a taskmaster and grinder. They called him the “Old Trench Fighter.” He was really born to be a football coach and he was very successful at North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. He’s had some heart procedures recently, but otherwise, he’s enjoying life at Wrightsville Beach. Bill lives right on the ocean and is helping coach his youngest son, who’s now playing football in high school.

— Charlie Moir, Virginia Tech basketball coach. He’s my all-time favorite. Number one on the list of fifteen. We spent four years together at Tech and it was great fun. The Hokies were a top twenty-five team in those years, led by Dell Curry. Charlie coached a very exciting, up-tempo style and let the guys play. We talked a lot about life on those evening walks on the road to the nearest ice cream store. Charlie was forced out at Tech, which was sad. He was recently inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. His brother, Sam, is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Sam coached at Catawba for many years. Charlie’s son Page is the head coach at Roanoke College. Charlie is retired and lives in Roanoke.

— Frankie Allen, Virginia Tech basketball coach. A very likeable guy, Frankie took over for Charlie. He was tougher on the guys and brought a more demanding style. After Tech, he went to Tennessee State and now is at Howard. Frankie’s a good recruiter and a good guy.

— Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech football coach. We worked together just one year, 1987, his first at Tech and my last. I really like Frank. You would be hard pressed to find anyone that doesn’t like him. What a great job he’s done in Blacksburg. I never thought in my wildest dreams that Virginia Tech would play for the national Championship. He was great to work with. I have nothing but positive things to say about Frank Beamer.

— Art Baker, East Carolina football coach. One of the best men to ever grace the coaching profession. A first class person in every respect. Art would have been a great minister if he had chosen that path. He was an outstanding recruiter because the mothers of the players he recruited respected him so much. Another guy who was great to work with. Art now lives in Columbia and is enjoying retirement.

— Mike Steele, East Carolina basketball coach. He did a great job in promoting basketball. People here were excited about hoops when I came here in 1988. Mike was a good tactician and X and O guy. It was a tough recruiting battle for him because he was a Midwest guy who came from a Division III program. I’ve often thought, if Mike would have left DePauw for a different job in the Midwest, he might still be coaching today. He’s made his home in Greenville and is very supportive. He’s an active Pirate Club member and that says a lot after the way things ended for him at ECU.

— Bill Lewis, ECU football coach. We’re all grateful for Bill’s contribution to this program. 1991 will forever be special. Bill was a perfectionist. Everything was accounted for a hundred times over. I was surprised when things didn’t work out at Georgia Tech. He was good to work with and was helpful. I knew Bill when he was an assistant at Georgia and that helped break the ice when Dave Hart hired him. He suffered a great tragedy when he lost his son in an Air Force training accident. Bill is still with the Miami Dolphins. I’m sure at age 60 he’s still running, too. He’s in great cardiovascular condition. He’s always looked a lot younger than his actual age.

— Eddie Payne, ECU basketball coach. Much like Art Baker, Eddie is a deeply religious man and an outstanding person. 1993 was special when Payne took the underdog Pirates to the NCAA Tournament. Things didn’t work out at Oregon State and Payne resurfaced at Greensboro College and is now beginning his first year at USC-Spartanburg. I will always be grateful for his support when we lost our daughter Heather in 1992. A good coach and an even better person.

— Joe Dooley, ECU basketball coach. At age 29, Joe became the youngest coach in Division One basketball. I’m very fond of Joe and he is an outstanding young man. He’s very well connected in this business and is a tireless recruiter. We would and could sit around and talk hoops for hours. After East Carolina, Joe went to New Mexico as an assistant and is now at Wyoming as an assistant. He left the Pirates with a 56-52 record. Mark it down. He’ll get another head job and he will be successful.

— Steve Logan, ECU football coach. Here are the facts going into the Southern Miss game: His record is 69-56. He is the winningest coach in the history of the program. He’s coached more games than anyone here. Now in his eleventh season, he’s coached more years than any other coach in the history of the program. He’s had great upset wins and bowl victories. When you coach eleven years, you are also going to have your share of disappointing losses, too. Logan is kind of like a Billy Martin. He has his staunch supporters who swear by him and he has his detractors. Like him or dislike him, he’s been a winner at East Carolina and that says a lot.

— Bill Herrion, ECU basketball coach. The ultimate “gym rat.” This guy eats, breathes and sleeps basketball 24 hours a day. I love his enthusiasm and we have a really good relationship. He knows and understands what we do and is extremely helpful in our game preparation. I enjoy being around people who enjoy what they do and Bill loves basketball. It’s his passion. If anyone can get it done here, he can. He has one of the toughest jobs in college basketball and he’s making strides. Still very intense, he’s pulled back a notch from his first year here and that’s good. Herrion is building a program and doing it the right way with good kids. Basketball is getting to be fun and Bill Herrion is the reason why. An honest personable good man. One admires his work ethic and pulls hard for him to be successful.

There you have it. The “Fabulous 15.”

Till next time, “keep painting’em purple.”

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02/23/2007 10:23:45 AM

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