Dick Harmon: Success at BYU breeds popularity for Dave Rose
Ravell Call, Deseret News
PROVO — So, who hates Dave Rose?
Such a club is small, if existent at all. There is no membership drive. He's a guy who is hard to dislike and, if he keeps winning, he will be loved as if he is Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny all rolled into one.
The BYU basketball coach is on a run, a streak as rare as any in a generation in Provo.
He took over Steve Cleveland's 9-21 team after the 2004 season and rattled off campaigns of 20-9, 25-9, 27-8, 25-8 and 30-6. That's an average seasonal win-loss record of 25.4 wins and eight losses. That is enough to bring you music.
Right now, his Cougars are ranked in the top 10, projected to be a No. 3 seed and stand 17-1 on the season. The nation's leading scorer, Jimmer Fredette, is the centerpiece of his team's offense. But those are just numbers.
The wind is at Rose's back, his program is moving forward and he's loved and respected. He's getting the lion's share of local recruits. Players just want to be on his team. Recruits love the run-and-gun style they play, and they generally win. He's a player magnet. Guys want to be in his locker room and feed off his enthusiasm.
So, who hates Dave Rose?
He's in a rare position as a BYU coach, something akin to LaVell Edwards. It's hard to find his enemies. If he's around long enough, like dandelions in spring, some will surely pop up. But right now, forgive the corny line: He's smelling like roses.
There are BYU coaches who rub some folks the wrong way. They get on nerves of rival fans and Cougar haters and are easy targets. But, like Edwards, Rose isn't headed that way. He's protected himself. He says the right things and doesn't give inflammatory quotes. He doesn't take himself that seriously with the media and it's hard to make fun of him.
Rose has no other agenda than winning and trying to do it right. ESPN's Andy Katz has his cell phone number and calls him at will 24-7 because he's one of the good guys.
He's not grumpy, vindictive or arrogant. While he's not the poster child for humility, he is close. Rose doesn't wear his faith on his shirtsleeves. He keeps it private but supportive and genuine. He's not a target for BYU haters and usually glides under the radar of controversy.
Rose is loved because he's local. He's a local high school and junior college coach who got invited to the big circle and is succeeding. He has never forgotten his roots, and folks like that trait in a man. He's not an outsider and his hiring was not the product of a national search. He speaks the local jargon and people understand his words.
When Cleveland left BYU for Fresno State in 2004, the search for his replacement did not take long — just a matter of minutes. BYU's administration knew who they wanted and didn't waste time. Sometimes hiring in-house is unpopular because the grass is always greener in the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC or Pac-12, and boosters with deep pockets will stage demands for glamour names and fame. Nobody on campus fell for that with Rose. They had their man.
BYU's players wanted Rose. I spoke to players and their parents at the time, and they said it was plain and simple. Rose was a winner and knew how to do it. He exuded a competitive spirit that was scary, contagious and fun.
In six seasons under Rose, BYU teams always rank at the top of the league in scoring, 3-point shooting, free-throw shooting and scoring margin. It isn't by accident.
"He's a man's man," said Scott Hansen, father of former all-MWC defensive player of the year Travis Hansen. "He's a people's person, charismatic, honest and fair. If you asked Travis who his top three friends were in the world, Dave Rose would be there and that is rare for a coach and player who go through so much during seasons."
Many within the coaching profession live by political correctness and get caught in the web. Others are so fueled by their own ego and aspirations that they speak of the game being about their players when everyone knows it's about them.
Rose has to wear about 20 hats at once. Thing is, you never notice him struggling with the weight or balance.
The key for Rose is people like doing business with people they like, and people like Rose. They like how he recruits, approaches prospects, delivers talking points and doesn't sell fluff. It filters down the food chain to his players, trainers and managers alike.
And it shows today, as his team stands 17-1.
But those are only numbers.
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