There's no such thing as an indispensable man, particularly not in the ranks of coaches in pro basketball where the pressures are intense and turnover rates are high.

Even so, it's hard not to feel a distinct pang of emotion at the news that Frank Layden is stepping down as coach of the Utah Jazz and becoming the NBA club's president.Under Layden, NBA Coach of the Year in 1984, the Jazz turned from one of the worst teams in the league into a winner - with five consecutive appearances in the NBA playoffs and a Midwest Division championship.

Layden's seven-year tenure as a Jazz coach had been the third longest in the NBA, behind only Doug Moe at Denver and fellow Irishman Pat Riley at Los Angeles.

That impressive tenure can be explained in part by Layden's knack as a good judge of talent, including the talent of assistant coaches who have come to the Jazz over the years.

Along the way, the ebullient and sometimes volatile Layden has been anything but boring. And some of his spunk seems to have rubbed off on the team.

Long one of the most quotable NBA coaches, Layden has never been afraid to poke fun at himself and his considerable waistline.

Though Layden may be somewhat less in the news as Jazz president than he was as coach, his lively personality should make him an effective spokesman for the club.

As Frank Layden steps into his new role, we wish him well in meeting the challenges that come with the president's job - including that of helping the Jazz get a bigger arena to replace the Salt Palace and of attracting the fans to fill the larger facility.