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Published: Wednesday, 3/2/2005

It's time for Chaney to step down

It's uncomfortable to witness legendary Temple basketball coach John Chaney aging ungracefully right before our eyes.

Chaney's real close to losing it. He's a 73-year-old man who should know better, but the painful fact of the matter is, he's too old, stubborn and set in his ways to willingly change so late in life.

Chaney is not unlike Bob Knight and Woody Hayes, great coaches in their twilight years unable or unwilling to control their emotions in the heat of battle.

Knight should still be the basketball coach at Indiana, yet he was fired despite winning three national championships there because of his trademark boorish behavior.

Hayes' Buckeye teams won three national football championsips and 13 Big Ten titles. Still, it ended badly for Hayes, who was also notorious for his temper, when he punched Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl.

This isn't a personal attack against senior citizens. My father is 81. I also plan on living long enough to receive Social Security. However, I believe it's been proven that some very famous coaches who remained on the job too long have been slow to react to changes in society - if at all. They cling to the past and refuse entry into the present.

Add Chaney to that list.

Chaney is a Hall of Fame basketball coach. He has a 721-294 record in his 33-year coaching career. What occurred last week can never change that.

But what took place under Chaney's watch a week ago will forever change his legacy.

Chaney made good on a public threat that he would put a "goon" into a game against Saint Joseph's if officials did not penalize his opponent for what he considers the use of illegal screens.

Nehemiah Ingram, Chaney's 6-8, 250-pound hand-picked hatchet-man, fouled out in only four minutes. On Ingram's most egregious foul, Saint Joseph's John Bryant suffered a broken arm when Ingram knocked him to the floor after Bryant scored a layup.

Responding to public and media criticism, Chaney apologized and suspended himself for one game. When the extent of Bryant's injury was revealed, Temple ordered him to sit longer. Upon meeting with Bryant's parents, Chaney suspended himself for the Atlantic 10 tournament while offering to pay Bryant's medical bills.

Chaney's punishment is a start, but it doesn't go far enough.

His suspension should be permanent.

This is Chaney's first major flare-up since his infamous "I'll kill you" threat made to then-Massachusetts coach John Calipari during a postgame press conference in 1994 that resulted in a one-game suspension.

Chaney isn't a bad person, but he's notorious for his bad behavior.

Deep down, Chaney is a genuinely caring person. He's the champion of the underdog who defended Proposition 48 when it wasn't the popular thing to do. He has helped countless young men, some of whom if not for basketball would never have gone to college, much less obtain a degree. Chaney has fought the good fight for more than three decades.

That said, the people who care about Chaney should try to convince him to step away from coaching before the decision is made for him.

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