So Matt Doherty finally got a new gig, as head man at Florida Atlantic in
fabulous Boca Raton, Florida. Well maybe not so fabulous. But hey,
it's a job.
It's definitely a long way from Chapel Hill.
Boca Raton means "mouth of the mouse," but is actually an old
Spanish idiom for pirate's cove.
Boca Raton has long a home to con men - former SEC chairman Richard Bredeen
said it was "the only coastal town in Florida where there are more sharks on land than in the water."
Interestingly enough, it's also the spam capital of the world, with an
amazing amount of garbage coming from the Mouth of The Mouse.
Writer Bruce Sterling calls it the "Capone-Chicago of cyber fraud."
And the Gambino family works out of Boca Raton. And for one more
unpleasant bit of reality, it was the home of the anthrax attacks a few years
So Matt Doherty gets to rehabilitate himself in Boca Raton. And what
has he learned from his flameout at UNC?
Apparently not too much.
"Some of (what happened at UNC) is overblown," he said when he was
And just what went wrong?
Doherty said his style was understood as "motivational" when his team is winning, but "construed in another manner" when
they are losing.
Would it be churlish to translate it this way? When you win, people
turn a blind eye to your bad behavior. When you lose and you're a jerk, you're
just a jerk.
We don't make it a habit to report rumors, but since all this happened some
time ago, maybe it's okay to talk about it now.
We started hearing things as soon as he took the UNC job. The first rumor
was that he rejected the BMW he was given and sent them back for the top of the
Then we heard that a secretary put him on hold and he cursed her out and told
her never to do that to him again.
These things allegedly happened, mind you, in the first two weeks or so of his ascent.
After that, a lot of stuff sort of came out. Scott May was very unhappy
about some things. There was a story floating around that Doherty had
called Sean May a "fat f!#k," and that Scott didn't much like
that. There was another report that he saw Jackie Manuel shooting in the
gym and asked what he was doing. He then took him in the office and showed
him videotape of what kind of a shooter he was and that he should forget being
an offensive threat and stick to defense. This was supposedly conveyed to
Manuel with much of the motivational technique Doherty described previously.
We don't know whether every bit of this is true, but the stories got out so
quickly that we knew something was terribly wrong in Chapel Hill. We
weren't going to discuss this sort of thing, obviously (after the fact is a
different issue), but we did perk up and got a good seat for the train wreck.
Dave Glenn, who hosts a radio show on 850 The Buzz and who also runs the Poop
Sheet, has said repeatedly that although what happened was bad enough, worse
stuff was not publicly revealed. We'll defer to his expertise.
So FAU will either be a stepping stone or a tombstone for Matt Doherty's
career. His new players, apparently, didn't folllow the controversial end
to his career. Ty McTyer told the Palm Beach Post that "[i]t's not just having a coach, but we're getting one who's established and that makes it
exciting. It's a big step for the school, big step for him and big step for us."
When asked about Doherty's issues with his UNC players, McTyer said "[w]e need that kind of
Maybe he does; maybe they all do. Discipline is a good thing for a
team. On the other hand, it's a good thing for a coach, too. Had
Doherty had some at UNC, he might still be there.
Obviously, the kids in UNC's program liked him when they were recruited, and
FAU has gotten some great attention.
On the other hand, this is a program which averaged less than 550 per game
last year and has no discernible identity in basketball. Just last month,
according to the Palm Beach paper, the athletic department had a budget
crisis. The original salary was supposed to be $125,000 to $140,000, but
that was low for Doherty. So unless we misunderstand the Post, the ever
energetic Doherty himself raised enough money to get his salary up there: "Matt has contacts with some people that want him to succeed here,"
athletic director Craig Angelos told the Post. "He talked to them and was able to get some commitments."
We think you'd be forgiven for saying this as well: if you go to a
school which draws 523 per game, and your first act is to get enough money in to
pay yourself, well, that's sort of the basic definition of desperate, isn't it?
And by any chance would those people be the UNC family?
So to sum it up, Matt Doherty is working again, in the flim-flam capital of
Florida and possibly the world, where he raised his own salary and pitches
the idea that he was misunderstood in Chapel Hill and has no need to change,
where the athletic department faced insolvency just a month ago, and where
Howard Schnellenberger called to pitch the job to Doherty with the idea that
basketball could make money easier than can football, which would certainly be
on the chopping block if the department has terrible financial problems.
Doherty's buyout declines until it is practically nothing in his third year.
This mutual hustle is the act of a desperate man and a desperate athletic
program. Truly, this could be a match made in heaven, and almost as much fun to
watch from afar as the slow motion UNC implosion was up close.
And that's not to say he can't make it work. He's a formidable
recruiter, and he's free to go after three years. If he can recruit enough talent to make some noise, who knows? Stranger things have
happened, but this level of willing, mutual flim-flammery is rare indeed.