I'm quite happy for former basketball coach Dan Dakich finding his calling as a sports radio talk show host and ESPN basketball analyst. Really, I am. I mean, there's always the chance that he takes another job four years later, then abruptly quits it and comes back, then does a terrible job. But for now, he's a personable guy on TV and one of the most popular rising stars of the basketball ladder.
These people were not Bowling Green basketball fans. They may not even remember him as such. But to know the man is to understanding his coaching tao.
February 13, 2007. Bowling Green had an 11-13 record but a 2-9 mark in the MAC, so the season was going south. Buffalo was an average team, but a road win would be huge. You may also remember this night as the onset of a grand snowstorm that blanketed all of the Midwest, Great Lakes, and East coast regions. We all act a little funny during blizzards. Dan Dakich acted like so:
Bowling Green was up 77-75 in the final minute. Buffalo had the final shot, and there was about a two-second differential on the shot clock. I remember the final play: the Falcons were holding on for dear life and playing some outstanding defense. Finally, as the clock began to expire, Buffalo's Parnell Smith put up a long jumper, which didn't even catch rim and bounced out of bounds.
You thought this was a good thing.
I'll give Dakich's side of the story first: he said he saw one of the referees give the end-of-game signal. The other two refs simply gave a shot clock violation signal, putting 0.6 seconds left on the game clock. However, Dakich was told by one referee that the game was over, and ergo he took his team back to the locker room to shower up and get the hell out of Buffalo before the snow got worse.
The game was not over, and about 10 minutes later the referees coaxed the Falcons back onto the court, at which point they received a technical foul for delay of game. Buffalo received two free throws, and essentially a gift to get back into the game. What pressure. Taking the shots was Buffalo's Yassin Idbihi, who ... yep, made them both. The game was tied, and the game went into overtime.
Naturally, you don't go into the locker room thinking you won and come back out with any type of intensity. Buffalo would go onto win 98-90, and this game pretty much sealed the fate for Dakich. He would "resign" (read: his contract wasn't renewed) and while the writing might've been on the wall before this game, the debacle in Buffalo was his signature implosion. Days later Dakich would receive an official MAC reprimand for criticizing the refs, who he said "cheated" his team out of a win, when all he had to do was stay on the court and inbound the ball.
What almost irreparably damaged my health was, one year later, he found himself as the interim coach of Indiana University, his dream job. That's a rabbit hole we shant go down today, but once that brief tenure in Bloomington ended, Dakich has solely focused on his radio work and his TV analysis.
People seem to appreciate his candor and his personality, which is probably true since said candor and personality blew up a basketball program.
"Dan Dakich? Isn't that the guy whose players quit on him?"
"No, they didn't all quit. A lot of them transferred."
All you need to do is spend some time going through former BG News sports editor Joel Hammond's compliation of Dan Dakich stories to find that, holy hell, this guy's hilarious, but much like his mentor Bob Knight, keeping it together on the sidelines is sort of important toward maintaining a basketball team. As a result, many of his players transferred away, some to Division II and III schools. When you're on TV, oftentimes the producers want you to be nothing more than yourself minus the occasional f-bomb.
But every February 13 since that fateful whistle, I look at the calendar, and then the sunrise, just to make sure that nothing else has altered for the worse. This time, Dakich's reach is far surpassing that of a state university in Wood County, Ohio, and it's far more infectious this time. You've been warned; you've been informed of what can happen if you catch him on a bad night.