Let's suppose that the George Washington University committee formed to choose a new basketball coach had before it a man who has won 82 percent of his games the last eight years and possibly could bring with him two of the best high school players in the country.
Such an intriguing interview is available to GW, and at almost no expense. All somebody has to do is phone Dunbar High School, and ask to speak with Joe Davidson.
If this seems to be an endorsement of Davidson, it is and it isn't. He seems to fit most of the requirements GW surely wants, though it is folly to insist one candidate is ideal for a job without knowing all the others. But it would be worse than folly for GW to overlook a Davidson in its own neighborhood, especially when the obvious way to glory is with local players.
Had GW listened to the advice here, it would not be searching for a new coach. The one it dismissed last week, Bob Tallent, was fine. If GW had given him the sort of budget and academic compromises his rivals enjoyed, Tallent could have won regularly in the Eastern Eight. Perhaps athletic history will be repeated at GW: the successor gets what the fired coach needed to win.
A number of interesting coaches care about the GW job. And if there is something glaringly unknown about each of them, the job itself is flawed. To be overly simplistic, nobody wants to be expected to beat West Virginia regularly with Ivy League admission standards and a shoestring budget that scarcely stretches beyond the beltway.
The GW search committee is going to have some pleasant and tough choices, deciding which candidate's area of strength is more significant and what sort of compromises might be necessary to attract able men.
For instance, John Kochan has had experience as an assistant at Maryland, and with a GW-type program at Davidson.He also was interim head coach at Davidson after Dave Pritchett became ill.
Bob Wenzel, now a South Carolina assistant, was a major reason such as Mike Gminski, Gene Banks, Kenny Dennard and Vince Taylor attended academically strict Duke. He seems as prepared as any assistant in the country for a head job.
No one would bring more credibility than GW alumnus Joe Gallagher, who often works in the overwhelming shadow of Morgan Wootten but who teaches the game as well as anyone and has vast contacts in the area. Even at 60, his inner fire seems fierce.
There are others. And it is not fair to assume the GW job is hopeless without severe financial and academic bending. Perhaps another Lefty Driesell will emerge, a man so driven he can do for GW what the young Lefthander did at Davidson in the middle and late '60s.
GW surely will not pass up the chance at least to explore what it has in common with Dunbar's Davidson, who has won five Interhigh, one city-wide championship in eight years. His record, he was saying yesterday, is "174 and, now, 36." The loss to De Matha in the city title game Sunday still pains.
Davidson's interest in a college position has not been widely known, though he interviewed for the George Mason vacancy filled last year by Joe Harrington.
"Now I'm looking more at career goals," Davidson said. "Had I been looking at career goals earlier, I might not be here (at Dunbar). I started coaching (he served nine years at the junior high level and one year as a high school assistant) because I knew I had something to offer there. And I discovered I could do it well."
A goal he kept largely to himself was to coach the best high school team in the country. That is a highly subjective area, but he is satisfied that it was realized with the unbeaten team that included Craig Shelton and John Duren. His 24-1 team this season, with Anthony Jones and Sylvester Charles, is the equal of any.
Davidson knows almost as little about GW knows about him. He is aware "that I have to have something more than just the regular candidate, or the assistant who has had experience at the college level."
Still, he adds, "I've been running a program here. Know what I mean? There's a difference between having a team and having a program." His program has included disciplined teams as well as many of the most talented players in the area.
The latest are Jones and Charles, and Davidson does not presume they would tag along to the college of his choice. But Davidson did not achieve his high school prominence without being very persuasive. In brief, the man clearly can recruit.
Innocents are offended that a college might hire a coach on his ability to bring along his best players, that it smacks of short-range thinking instead of developing a program with a wide foundation. Living rebuttal to that theory is at Georgetown, in the huge presence of John Thompson.
Like Thompson, Davidson prepares his players for the moment basketball ends, with a summer program called Basketball Reading Incentive Camp. BRIC is two years old, and growing.
"The first year we had about 60 kids; last year we had about 215. They are involved in learning basketball, other athletic skills, and field trips. And reading. We're not adopting a proposal that also would include math and science.
"A lot of people want to take that ball away from the kids, arguing that there is too much. They may be right. But I believe basketball can be used as a tool, as an incentive for the kid to be more aware of his academic responsibilities."
Davidson is comfortable in a recruiting area from Washington through Richmond. Years ago, he encouraged a youngster who attended Norfolk State after he did to come to the Washington playgrounds for some postgraduate experience.
The player was shy, uncertain of his ability. And he was to be matched in a pickup game against Jerry Chambers, fresh from playing in the NCAA round of four for Utah. Davidson was both patient and prodding, and the player in fact more than held his own against Chambers. To Joe Dean Davidson, Bobby Dandridge has been grateful ever since.