Floyd to Cathedral Exes: ‘I’m planting myself here.’

 

Tim Floyd with Cathedral High School alumni officials. From left, Victor Arias, Tim Floyd, Julius Lowenberg and J. D. Douglas.

 

El Paso’s Cathedral High School alumni invited Tim Floyd to breakfast last week.

 

After all, his late father, Lee, was one of Cathedral’s greatest all-around

athletes and the exes feel a special bond with his son.  What a joyful affair the breakfast turned out to be.

I graduated from El Paso High School but since I knew Tim when he was assistant

coach of the Miners and I was sports editor of the El Paso Herald-Post in the

1980s I was asked to introduce him.  What can you say about a person so popular and so admired

as UTEP’s new basketball coach? I thought and thought then turned to Tim’s benefactor, teacher

and inspiration, the late Don Haskins, for help.

 

I CO-WROTE The Bear’s autobiography, “Haskins: The Bear Facts,” some 20 years

ago. In it, he predicted Tim would be a successful coach, and he was right.

Everywhere Tim has been a head coach, from University of Idaho where he started

his head coaching career to other teams that included the Chicago Bulls and USC,

he has taken a losing program and turned it into a winner.  Before I quoted Haskins at the breakfast, I gave my own thoughts. “I’ve written a lot about Tim through the years,” I said. “Even as a youth he was so appealing

I’ve called him The Boy Next Door, The Golden Boy, The kind of son any man would

be proud to have.”  That drew sighs and nods of approval.

 

THEN I QUOTED Haskins from his autobiography:

“He (Tim) is probably the best recruiter I’ve ever known. And he knew how to get

the town involved with our team. What a worker. If he had just one dollar for

every hour he spent working after 5 p.m. he’d be a rich man.

 

“He used to wear me out recruiting. He never took ‘no’ for an answer. He would

have me go out to talk with some players and we wouldn’t get back until 11 p.m.

I’d be dog tired when I got to bed. ‘Persistent’ is too soft a word to describe

him.”

 

It’s no secret that Tim’s recruiting was the main reason Haskins enjoyed his

great success during the 1980s. During that decade the Miners won five Western

Athletic Conference championships in a row.  Haskins went on to tell how quickly  

Tim learned the ropes: “When I started out

as coach I used to do all the coaching myself. I changed my philosophy and let

Tim do some of it himself. But really, success all starts with recruiting.”

 

AFTER THE introduction, Tim took the microphone and got a roaring, standing

ovation.

 

He told about the needs for his UTEP team this year: “We need a post player and

players who can put the ball through the hoop. We don’t have that right now, but

that will change.”

 

He told of the reason he left USC. “I was being made a scapegoat for the

problems with the football team. I didn’t like that and I didn’t like the man I

was working for.”

 

He told about the difference between coaching in college and the NBA:   “In

college you can recruit several players each year. In the NBA, you draft a

player and the general manager is involved.”

 

He told about the perils of coaching: “It’s like any other job. You have to

produce.”

 

THE STATEMENT that got the biggest cheers, however, was when he said he was

tired of moving from team to team and now was ‘planting’ himself here. He said

he had lived here in nine-year stints (with his father and then as Haskins’

assistant) and had always had fond memories of the city and its folks – even the

media.

 

Glory be!

Welcome home, Tim.

 

Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at (915) 584-0626,

by e-mail at rayf358@yahoo.com or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com