Wednesday, July 5, 2000

KU, Carolina jobs essentially equal in stature


So which job is a better? The head basketball coaching position at Kansas or the one at North Carolina?

It seems to me the jobs are almost identical in stature EXCEPT for one, vital consideration.

Recruiting analysts will tell you it's much easier to recruit blue-chip athletes to Tobacco Road than the middle of the country.

A main reason for this is simple population.

There are a lot more folks nestled on the East Coast than the Midwest. That means there are more players out here and North Carolina hasn't lost an in-state player it wanted since David Thompson picked N.C. State many moons ago.

Kansas, of course, normally finds the recruiting pickings slim in the Sunflower State, occasionally inking a John Crider, C.B. McGrath, Greg Gurley, Wayne Simien and perhaps Dennis Latimore.

Roy Williams has done a nice job overcoming the location problem at KU, signing a batch of McDonald's All-Americans ... after a great deal of effort.

He might be able to sign a batch of All-Americans, with a lot less effort, here.

That in itself might make him sign on the dotted line with Tar Heels athletics director Dick Baddour.

Of course, turning down the UNC job would greatly enhance his recruiting efforts at KU. For once and all, recruits would know KU's coach would definitely be in Lawrence until retirement day.

Obviously recruiting isn't the only factor to consider when debating which job is better.

Al Featherston, the talented writer from the Durham Herald-Sun, identified some crucial factors Williams has likely considered in pondering whether to succeed Bill Guthridge here or stay in Kansas. Hats off to Featherston for a great comparison between KU and UNC.

Here's a summation with a Kansas twist to it:

Tradition: Both schools have won four national titles. KU's coaching tree includes the inventor of basketball, James Naismith, and Phog Allen. Allen is responsible for grooming UNC legend Dean Smith.

If not for Allen, there would probably be no Smith legacy at UNC.

The incomparable Michael Jordan attended North Carolina. The amazing Wilt Chamberlain attended Kansas.

Advantage: KU.

Facilities: KU has old, yet majestic, adorable Allen Fieldhouse, which seats 16,800.

Carolina has 14-year-old, massive Smith Center, which seats 21,572.

Carolina's coaches offices are much bigger than KU's. The Tar Heels' locker rooms and weight facilities are more plush than KU's. Both facilities are great. If you think newer is better, Advantage: UNC. If you think a tradition-rich arena is the best way to go, Advantage KU.

Personally, I prefer raucous atmospheres such as at KU or Duke over the newer buildings.

Advantage: KU.

Compensation: Bill Guthridge made $164,000 in base salary last season to Roy's $126,000, but both probably make about a million bucks a year after all is said and done.

Advantage: Even. Maybe Roy would get more endorsement deals out here. Who knows?

Immediate future: Carolina returns Brendan Haywood and Joseph Forte from a Final Four team. Point guard is believed to be an immediate weakness. KU has three strong sophomores to go with Kenny Gregory, Eric Chenowith, Luke Axtell and Jeff Boschee, et.all. Advantage: KU.

Recruiting: Carolina. See above.

Quality of life: KU is closer to a major city than Chapel Hill. But Chapel Hill is much closer to Williams' beach home in South Carolina and there are more golf courses out here.

Advantage: North Carolina (at least to Williams).

Rivalries: KU owns K-State. KU has a better program than Missouri. Duke right now is ahead of North Carolina, beating the Heels five straight times.

It doesn't figure Williams' Tar Heel program will totally dominate the ACC. Not with Coach K at Duke.

Advantage: KU.

Intangibles: Williams is beloved in Lawrence. Yet he's from North Carolina and is an icon-in-the-making here, too. He has family here. So does wife Wanda. Expectations are higher from fans at UNC.

Advantage: UNC.

So what will Williams do? Well there's no change in the mood out here and nationwide.

Everybody says Williams is Carolina bound. The coach will either soon pick UNC or, to borrow a line from Jacque Vaughn, choose "the road less traveled.''

It's Roy's job to assess all factors and make the call. Soon. Please?

Commenting has been disabled for this item.