First, the big-school coaches didn't like anything about college basketball's new-fangled 3-point shot.
Now that they like the shot, they don't like the distance.A committee of coaches will propose this weekend that the home run shot line be moved from its 19 feet, 9 inches back to the international distance of 20 feet, 6 inches.
Digger Phelps, coach at Notre Dame, said the NABC rules committee is concerned that 19-9 is just too close.
The recommendation would move the line back nine inches. Phelps said FIBA, the international basketball ruling body, is considering moving it back farther than that, perhaps to the NBA distance - 22 feet at the sides and 23 feet, 9 inches at the top of the line.
If approved by the full coaches' convention, the 20-foot, 6-inch proposal would be passed along to the 12-man rules committee, which meets Monday and Tuesday. It will meet opposition there, according to Ed Steitz, secretary-treasurer of the committee.
"They come in every year with recommendations," said Steitz, one of the rules committee members. "The coaches might vote to go along. As to whether the coaches' voice will be sustained is another matter."
Phelps cited an ESPN telephone poll conducted on the first day of the current NCAA tournament in which two thirds of 12,000 callers wanted the line moved back to either the international or NBA distance.
Steitz had his own data, though.
"We are down one percent in shooting percentage," he said. "Why move it back? A public poll does not compare to statistics and data."
Steitz said he had not heard sentiment for change from other members of the rules committee, which includes six representatives of Division I and three each from Divisions II and III. Ten of the members are active coaches.
"In fact," he said, "when I was walking through the coaches' hotel today, people were shouting across the lobby, saying, `Keep it where it is, the game has never been better.'
"I'm not surprised at the proposal. There are always diehards who object that it's too close."
You can include Phelps in that constituency. "I think it's too close," he said. "I'd like the interntional distance, but that's a personal opinion."
Steitz is considered the father of the 3-point shot and it was his strong support that helped get it adopted in all conferences three years ago.
"It's not written in concrete, but I've always said we should not make any change without supporting research," he said. "Everybody's got an idea to improve the game."