If you're Morgan Wootten, what do you do?
You've been the basketball coach at De Matha High School for 23 years and now, at age 48, you've been offered the job at North Carolina State.
You've made De Matha famous. Your teams have won nearly 90 percent of their games. Every senior who ever played for you has earned a college scholarship. You teach history, too, and you love seeing your kids become doctors and lawyers as well as all-Americas.
De Martha is home. It always will be home.
A newspaperman calls to ask what you're going to do and you say, "The final decision will be what's in the best interests of my family."
Your family loves it here. Three years ago you bought a new home. Your daughters are cheerleaders: Cathy, 15; Carol, 13, and Tricia, 12. The boys, Brendan, 9 and Joey, 7, would move to North Carolina tomorrow. They're young and ready for anything. But the girls have their school friends and their cheerleading and their favorite teachers and boyfriends and they don't know if they'd have all that in a new place.
Your wife is wonderful. She is supportive. Always has been, always will be. She says do what you want to do. She'll be there.
"But," you tell the newspaperman with a little nervous laugh, "she's" never had to live through me being a college coach."
You could go on forever at De Martha.
The money is good. Besides the teaching and coaching, you have a basketball camp for kids. They pay to learn. You work at clinics around the country because other coaches want to learn from you. They pay, too.
You could stay at De Martha and forever be the most famous high school coach in America. You are comfortable. You could keep turning out James Browns and Sid Catletts and Kenny Carrs and Adrian Dantleys and Hawkeye Whitneys. No one is ever going to fire you for losing too many games at De Matha. No one will hang you in effigy or send a moving van to your house, the way some crazies do in big-time college athletics.
North Carolina State is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and you know what Al McGuire said about coaching in the ACC. "It's the next thing to insanity," McGuire said, and he meant it, because the ACC is an eight-team league of such great balance that even a very good team can have a bad year. And then a good team has a bad year, the ACC fans blame the coach.
So if you're Morgan Wootten with the permanence and comfort of De Matha yours to keep forever do you leave that behind to take a college job in one of America's toughest leagues?
"I've got to come to a decision in the next day or so," you say to the newspaperman. "I don't want to string anybody along. It's recruiting time and in all fairness I have to do something in the next few days."
The newspaperman has a hunch about you, Coach Wootten.
He thinks you'll take the job.
You say, "If you want to climb the mountain, the ACC is one of the best leagues to attempt it in. If you're talking about contending for a national championship -- if that's the kind of mountain climb. I want to make -- the ACC certainly is the ultimate."
There'll be more money at North Carolina State for you. Dean Smith has lasted 20 years at North Carolina, Lefty Driesell 11 years at Maryland. They didn't want Norm Sloan to leave at N.C. State. Men can survive in the ACC. Good coaches will survive. And you're good. You know it. You've proven it at one level -- even raising that high school-level to heights no one thought possible -- and now you can prove it on the mountaintop.
Your good players of a dozen years ago, James Brown, later a star at Harvard and now a big-shot business guy in town, says that now is the time for you to move to the colleges.
"I'd say 'go," Brown said yesterday. "It would be great to see him successful at that level. It would be the greatest thing ever for him. And he would be successful."
But you, the coach at De Matha for what seems all your life, have a worry. It's not the job. You can do the job. It's what the job will cost your family. "God, family, school, basketball" -- those are the priorities in order, you have told your De Matha guys. And now you have to answer the question asked by the offer of a college job: Would you be putting basketball ahead of your wife and children?
"I've talked to coaches who have been to the top of, the mountain," you say, "and I've asked them if the family has to be second. Some have said you have to make up your mind that the family is going to be second. But one coach I know refused to put his family second. It was always first.
And who was that singular coach?
"John Wooden," you say. "He really was able to do it."