"One more year! One more year!"
Long, long ago -- OK, it was three Sundays ago -- a smart knot of Florida Gulf Coast University student fans chanted from the bleachers. An ebullient crowd had gathered in the smallish gym in southwest Florida for the CBS selection show on a big screen. Head coach Andy Enfield had taken a microphone.
"Gonna have a few more years, don't worry," Enfield told them, and the thing was, he had every reason in the lunatic college-hoop world to believe that.
Hardly anybody anywhere knew about Florida Gulf Coast, tournament-bound though it may have been. Some people -- hi -- had to look up its location after a wayward guess of the panhandle. Others thought it renamed from something else they once knew. "When we were first here two years ago, they thought we were a junior college," Enfield said, and he meant prospective recruits.
"When we were first here two years ago, they thought we were a junior college," Enfield said, and he meant prospective recruits.
Merely 384 hours hence, Enfield has an address 2,215 miles different and a salary seven times higher, according to the Los Angeles Times.
He's a molten-lava-hot name, snapped up at the end of Pat Haden's 2 1/2-month hike through the coach-seeking forest.
Two wins, upon one weekend, within 48 hours.
Two wins, and maybe a couple hundred requests from rationally enchanted media.
Madness? Absolutely. You think these coaches, especially those coaching college students, don't live on a roulette wheel? You think they don't help embody what Bill Parcells once said about all of them being a tad off-kilter? You think those suits they wear, painting them as bastions of sanity, don't mislead?
Now, there's persuasive evidence that Enfield is very good at coaching. He grew up in Pennsylvania with a prep-coaching father, still runs some of Dad's drills such as a finish-in-the-lane drill and a fastbreak drill. He made a Division III-record 92 percent of his free throws at Johns Hopkins, revealing a detail orientation that might portend coaching acumen.
He studied under some of the great scholars, including Professor Dunleavy in Milwaukee and Professor Pitino in Boston. Players improve under Enfield's tutelage, according to all accounts.
It's just that, well, go back to this:
In the quarterfinals of the mostly anonymous Atlantic Sun Tournament, with 9:04 left, North Florida crept to within 52-50 against Florida Gulf Coast. Obviously, FGCU had the better side, and obviously its 73-63 win would have been the way to bet if you're into such things, but would Enfield get to USC if North Florida had forged the upset?
In the final of the same tournament, at Mercer -- which, after all, won the two-month regular-season conference slog over second-place FGCU -- FGCU trailed 11-3 before a quick timeout, then led 38-36 at halftime. Now, if there's one thing we could guess about Enfield from the wins over Georgetown and San Diego State, it's that he makes some mean halftime adjustments, so surely that helps explain Florida Gulf Coast's eventual 88-75 win for passage to the NCAA Tournament in only its second year of eligibility.
Surely it does, except that, oh, wait . . .
"We didn't do any game-planning at halftime," Enfield said in the Associated Press game story. "I just said, 'The team that defends and goes on a run early in the second half is going to win the game. This is on you. This is where you want to be. It's the A-Sun championship game. You're up by two at halftime on their home court. This is a lot of fun. So go win the game.'"
The team that defends is going to win the game …
This is where you want to be …
So go win the game …
Hey, I could have said all of that, and I would make a horrendous coach! So if Mercer wins there, does Enfield's salary septuple? Can Haden go get Enfield and tell his fan base, "Hey, this guy is exciting!"? Doesn't this all stem from fan bases seeking splashes, whatever they think that means?
That brought Enfield's Eagles to Philadelphia, where Enfield once won a Pepsi shooting contest in the Spectrum as a teen -- really, who thought up all this? -- and it brought them against Georgetown, which they joyously ran past, and that brought them against San Diego State, which they joyously ran past, and that gave them four more days of attention, with the side effect of enabling helpless, hopeless, hapless heterosexual males with keyboards to wax envious over Enfield's supermodel spouse.
By the time a small knot of FGCU students wearing "Dunk City" T-shirts sat down behind the baseline and started doing slow 360s videotaping Cowboys Stadium with expressions that made them seem as if in Oz, everyone knew Andy Enfield.
What I always wonder is, How many other anonymous guys are very good, but never get past certain junctures because of the fates, the vagaries of shooting hotness, pivotal injuries never revealed, youthful nightlife blunders that foil plans? Or, as the writer and Southern California graduate Joe Sheehan tweeted, Does Enfield get this job if the NCAA Tournament selection committee switches FGCU and Albany, throwing FGCU to Duke?
What I do not wonder is whether college coaches are half-mad, and whether, as the only of the peoples upon the Earth who fashion gigantic athletic events around college students, so are we all.