Dakich lives out dreamWritten by Norm Wamer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s funny how the world turns over. Some things in sports are stranger than anything in a movie script. Indiana University interim head basketball coach Dan Dakich has gone from being unemployed to his dream job in a mere seven months.
I’ve been interviewing Dakich on Sports Radio 1470 “The Ticket” for nine years. One of the first interviews with the former Bowling Green coach was coming off a couple of Falcon losses. I needed an ice breaker, so I introduced Dakich as “Bowling Green’s No. 2 coach in career winning percentage,” only to a somber reply of, “Soon to be No. 3.”
The newest Hoosier head honcho was on “The Front Row” the day after Indiana’s win over Ohio State. Life has gotten so busy for Dakich that he was calling on a cell phone while weaving in and out of traffic with assistant coach Ray McCallum while in Boston. Both were visiting a recruit. Long gone were the days of Dakich sitting in on the show live in studio. After introducing Dakich as the all-time leading Indiana coach in winning percentage (he is 2-0 as interim head coach), Dakich said jokingly, “Maybe I should retire.” Fat chance.
Former Bowling Green sports information director (SID) and current Indiana basketball SID J.D. Campbell said recently on “The Front Row” that coaching basketball at Indiana is like coaching football at Ohio State. Dakich understands this.
“I can’t even tell you how crazy it is,” Dakich said. “I can’t be as free on the radio as I used to be.”
Knowing that there are hundreds of blogs dealing with Hoosier hoops, even assistant coaches will hide a beer bottle under a table when at a restaurant.
“In the Ohio State game, I didn’t yell at an official all night. On some blog, it was written that I didn’t yell at the officials enough,” Dakich said.
My guess is that’s not going to be a long-term problem.
If you think Dakich is the type of guy to reflect on the fact he is now coaching in his dream job, you’d be wrong. The former Hoosier team captain has been handed the wheel of the ship and can only think about crossing the finish line first. Even his wife, Jackie, had to remind her husband to enjoy his time at the helm. But Dakich, who terms the words of wisdom “good advice,” still roams the sidelines with the same intensity of his playing days, concentrating only on winning and trying to ignore anything that might detract from it.
Even if Dakich doesn’t get the permanent position, he’ll have done something he always dreamed of doing.
“At the end of the day, when I’m 65 or 75 years old I can look back on this and think that,” Dakich said. “But in the end it’s about winning a championship. That’s all we talk about.”
So much for the coach taking his wife’s advice.
“I love practice and yelling at the kids,” Dakich said. “I loved the way our staff worked together to beat Northwestern and Ohio State, but walking off the court a winner is the best.”
Could this real-life script have a happy ending with the coach getting his dream job on a permanent basis and living happily ever after? It’s impossible to tell at this point.
The bottom line is that Dakich has to win and win now. A Big Ten championship or a deep run in the NCAA Tournament would make it nearly impossible for Indiana to pass on the former Hoosier player and longtime assistant coach.
Anything less and it’s anyone’s guess.
Norm Wamer is program director of Sports Radio 1470 “The Ticket” WLQR-AM and co-hosts “The Front Row” weekday afternoons from 3 to 6 p.m.