SALT LAKE CITY — Roger Reid, the former BYU, Snow College and Southern Utah University basketball coach, retired on Thursday.
Here's guessing he'll be coaching again before his next oil change.
SUU announced Reid's decision on Thursday in a news release. Amid the quotes was the intimation that he hasn't yet hung up his whistle. Remember, this is the guy who coached for years with hips so creaky he rode a cart through airports. Would he let this be the end of his career?
"I am sure I will get the itch to coach again," he said.
When Reid was hired as head basketball coach at BYU, 23 years ago this month, he could barely contain his excitement. Of course, containment was never his strong suit. The man wore his feelings on his shirtsleeves, not to mention his collar, cuffs and forehead.
Some have accused him of brashness over the years, but if you wanted a guy to lead and believe, Reid was your man. He believed the Cougars could win a national championship and that they could be in the NCAA Tournament almost every year. He also believed he was unjustly fired by BYU. In one of the sadder moments in school history, he was pink-slipped a week before Christmas in 1996. He had previously noted in a moment of despondency that recruit Chris Burgess had let down millions of Mormons by choosing to play at Duke. The remark was widely interpreted as meaning if you're LDS, there's only one place to play.
Reid later said the comment was made in a private conversation and was misinterpreted. Either way, BYU was off to a rough start (1-6) that season, headed for a terrible 1-25 campaign. The Cougars had suffered an uncharacteristic 15-13 record the previous year. Suddenly he was out like dirty bathwater.
Although it has been 15 years since he was at BYU, Reid will always be associated with the Cougars. He spent 11 years as an assistant coach, then 7-plus as the head coach. At one point it appeared the promising threesome of Shawn Bradley, Ryan Cuff and Ken Roberts would prosper together; some even speculated that group could reach the Final Four. Yet only Roberts stayed..
But even after being fired, Reid never really moved away, he just moved around. He kept his house in Spanish Fork and took a job as an assistant with the Phoenix Suns. Soon after was a stop-off as a coach in China, followed by two years as head coach at Snow College. His 2006-07 Badger team went 24-7.
As successful as Dave Rose has been at BYU, Reid wasn't far behind. He had six 20-win seasons with the Cougars and made the NCAA Tournament five times. His winning percentage (.664) ranks as the second-best of any BYU coach since the 1920s, trailing only Rose (.776). Reid was at .701 until the final two years.
Though he was 2-4 in the NCAA Tournament, his team lost by just two points to Clemson in 1990 — and that loss was eventually vacated due to Clemson's NCAA violations.
So in some ways, Reid accomplished two decades ago what Rose is doing today.
Reid's departure at SUU wasn't coincidental. His Thunderbirds had floundered. In the last five seasons, they went just 54-97. This year's 14-17 record was the final fissure. With Reid's contract up, and SUU moving to the Big Sky Conference next year, it was a natural place for a change.
Reid left instructions with university publicists that he had no further comment, which itself is fairly unusual. Still, barring health problems, it seems doubtful he will stay retired, even after four decades in the business. When he was hired to replace Ladell Andersen at BYU, he said, "I never wanted to be a doctor, I never wanted to be a banker, I wanted to be a basketball coach."
Here's assuming he doesn't want to be a retiree.
USU-Eastern has been looking for a coach. Reid has already coached at three schools in Utah. Why not?
The itch could already be back.