Traveling Violations: No bull
by Dan Wetzel, Yahoo Sports
November 9, 2004
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – He spent 13 seasons in the NBA before serving as an NBA analyst for three networks. He even got into acting, including a stint as Coach Bill Fuller on NBC's Saturday morning basketball show, "Hang Time."
Yet after all of the money and the fame, Reggie Theus realized he wanted to coach college basketball. He even spent the 2002-03 season as a volunteer assistant at Division II Cal State Los Angeles.
Getting a crack at a Division I job wasn't easy. The perception of former NBA players, let alone ones who have been Hollywood actors, is that while they may want to coach, they don't want the hard work that comes with the job.
"The common theme was ex-players are not willing to do it the right way and pay their dues," Theus says. "That is something that stops you from getting a job."
Just more than a year later, Theus has proven himself under one of the most demanding men in basketball. He is the point person for an exceptional U of L recruiting class chock full of West Coast talent.
"People didn't envision Reggie as a guy who gets up at 6 a.m. and is in the office until 11 p.m.," Pitino says. "What surprised me was he was so hungry. He has great NBA experience as both a player and a broadcaster, yet at the same time he's very hungry to make it at the college level."
Theus, a Los Angeles native who played at UNLV, says his mid-life switch to coaching should answer any questions about his motives. He didn't do this for the money, out of boredom, or because he needed the ego boost. He already had all of that.
"I had the opportunity to do a lot of different things after [my playing days]," he says. "When I got back out on the floor [to coach] I realized this is who I am and this is what I want to do."
Theus even accepted Pitino's 6:30 a.m. report-to-work time, the late nights, the traveling, the home visits and all of the rest.
"This is the best decision I have ever made," he says.
Theus says he wants to be at Louisville when the Cardinals win a national championship. Pitino is more realistic – he believes Theus is head-coaching material. "He won't be with us long," Pitino says. "If a West Coast school opens, he's a natural, an absolute natural. He's a great teacher, a great worker and a great recruiter."
Wheelman Bret Bearup, noticing another creamed deer carcass, thought the road should be renamed "Roadkill Alley."
And this was no small tab. Bearup had a bone-in filet and some fancy wine, then polished off a slice of banana cream pie.
Gaines always is a bit excitable, but Sunday was an especially big day for the operation he is involved with. At the November Breeding Stock Sale at the local Keeneland track, Gaines-Gentry Thoroughbreds shelled out $5 million for I'll Get Along, who happens to be Smarty Jones' mother.
Gaines was happier than when UK beat U of L in 2001. Well, maybe.
"No, but I wouldn't mind selling one," Pitino said. "Five million? Wow."
That Pitino was blown away will make Gaines happy for months.
"My salary is a little different now that I am not with the Boston Celtics," he laughed. "It's not that I'm struggling here at Louisville or the University doesn't pay me well. But to be in the horse business, the Sport of Kings, it's a little easier when you're with the Celtics."
"We generate a lot of revenue because we have 19,500 season ticket holders," Pitino says. "That won't buy you Smarty's mom, but…."
Second, more U of L vanity plates have been sold in the Commonwealth of Kentucky than UK vanity plates.
"Well, you just blew it," Pitino said. "Every UK fan will go out and buy 10 each now."
Valued Reader Email
Dan – Try the Starwood hotels Westin and Sheraton. Best beds in the business (especially at the Westin chain). And usually when you make a reservation through their web site, it's actually reserved. I only wish they would build one in Carbondale so when the Salukis are tearing it up you media types would have a comfortable place to stay.
Nice push for the Salukis. But comfort isn't the Downtown Indianapolis Courtyard's problem; it's their understanding what a "reservation" is. I'll stay anyplace. In fact, I've stayed in hotels so cheap they stole my towel. (The preceding line was stolen from Rodney Dangerfield.)
Tink's BBQ, a political hangout/lunch spot on St. Clair St., served up some of its famous chili and a pulled pork sandwich.
And to think there are knockoff Waffle Houses.
Bearup, who lived here for a decade, points out the great Mark Twain quote: "When the end of the world comes I want to be in Kentucky, because there it will come 20 years later."
Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. He is the co-author of the book "Death to the BCS: The Definitive Case Against the Bowl Championship Series," which following five printings of the first edition was re-released in a second, updated edition in October. Follow him on Twitter. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Tuesday, Nov 9, 2004 3:38 am, EST