"I'm just going to look in the papers," said Bob Tallent, fired Wednesday after seven seasons as George Washington University basketball coach. "I'm sure there'll be a lot more suckers like me who get fired."
And so, Tallent began job hunting yesterday. "I'm confident I can still coach," he said. "I'm only 34. I have 102 wins (84 losses). I'm sure there are people in the business who think I can coach. I know other coaches do. I hope some administrators will."
Tallent's firing, following an 8-19 season and seventh-place finish in the Eastern Eight, came five weeks after he said publicly that GW could not compete with the other members of its league without a larger recruiting budget and more flexible admission standards.
Tallent said at the time that GW's recruiting budget was $10,000 from the university, plus $2,000-$4,000 from Colonials Inc., a booster group. When he fired Tallent Wednesday, Athletic Director Bob Faris called those figures erroneous, saying later that the school spends "two to three times" that much.
"That's bull," Tallent said as he cleaned out his Smith Center office yesterday. Otherwise, Tallent had few harsh words for Faris, who has been GW's athletic director since 1955.
"I've read those things a million times about sour grapes. What purpose does that serve?" Tallent said. "If they think they can find a better coach than me, that's their prerogative.
"The only thing that bothered me about the whole deal was that Dr. Elliott (GW President Lloyd Elliott) didn't talk to me. After 14 years of working and playing for GW, he owed me an explanation."
Tallent also disputed Faris' statement that the decision to fire him would have been reevaluated if GW had defeated Duquesne in the first round of the Eastern Eight tournament Tuesday night. It would have been GW's first tournament victory in six years of the Eastern Eight.
Tallent said that Faris told him Wednesday that he would have had to win the tournament or at least get to the final and make a good showing. Tallent also was told that the school will not have a double standard for admissions, but no decision has been made on additional funding.
When he was called into Faris' office Wednesday, Tallent said he told Faris that GW "would have a good team next year." He said Faris replied, "We have no credibility. We can't tell people that. We have to have a new coach."
Tallent said he hopes the new coach does not run off any of the current players or four others who either sat out this season as transfers or were injured. He said he expects a very good record from the Colonials next season.
"At the end of the year, the young guys realized what it took to win basketball games," Tallent said. "With the guys who played, the three transfers (Mike Neville, Penny Elliott and Mike Brea) and Jon Turner (a 6-4 guard who sat out the season with a knee injury), that's a heck of a nucleus. I figured we'd have a heck of a year. They could have a very good year, and i hope they do for the kids' sake."
Faris expects to have a selection committee formed by Monday. A number of area college coaches believe that two former De Matha High players who are now college assistant coaches will get a lot of consideration if they are interested. They are Perry Clark of Penn State and Marty Fletcher of North Carolina State.