Former North Carolina basketball coach Matt Doherty was fired by SMU today, ending his tenure there after six seasons.
Doherty was 80-109 at SMU, where he never could quite turn the corner. He had only one winning season in his six years coaching the Mustangs, who haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1993 and traditionally have had trouble getting elite players. This year's team -- his last -- went 13-19.
"I understand that this is a business and, at the end of the day, we simply didn't win enough games," said part of Doherty's statement following the firing.
It's hard to imagine that Doherty was the national coach of the year only a decade or so ago at UNC with his first Tar Heel team. He was ousted after three years, but he did recruit the nucleus of the Tar Heels' 2005 national title team.
I've always liked Doherty personally. He's honest about the mistakes he made at UNC (not keeping Phil Ford on staff was one of the big ones) and has a great sense of humor. He also has a temper, which was part of his undoing at UNC.
This firing does call into question how far Doherty will have to go to ever get a Division I-A coaching job again. It's not easy to get a third try once two schools have fired you, although not impossible. Doherty likely will have to go somewhere as an assistant and try to burnish his image there before getting a chance to start over, assuming he wants to stay in coaching.
In other news:
-- Did you see Bismack Biyombo's two-handed block of a dunk attempt that sealed the Bobcats' win over New Orleans Monday night? It was a stunning play, and exactly why the Bobcats drafted "Biz" No.7 overall.
-- I thought the sanctions the NCAA handed down onto UNC's football program were about right. The Tar Heels deserved a one-year postseason ban, I've long thought, because there were just too many NCAA violations on the table under former coach Butch Davis.
It's too bad that innocent Tar Heels (i.e. rising seniors who had nothing to do with the violations) are punished, but the NCAA can't legislate the players who left for the NFL. UNC's primary mistake was not self-sanctioning and banning itself from a bowl last season -- now that penalty will come in 2012 instead.
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