It’s best to assume nothing lasts forever, especially in the ephemeral world of collegiate sports where the revolving door of recruitment, early exits, graduation — and for BYU, missions — can make teams appear unrecognizable from year to year.
By that assumption, Dave Rose’s run had to come to an end at some point. But after 14 years as head coach for the Brigham Young University men’s basketball program, some may have wished he could be the exception to the rule.
Rose retires with a worthy list of accomplishments. The Final Four team Rose played on while in college at Houston was filled with high-flying athletes and bigger-than-life personalities. The team had a national following of fans obsessed with its “phi-slama-jama” above the rim approach to the game.
But Rose didn’t possess great speed or jumping ability or raw talent. He was a gritty, disciplined player — almost the antithesis of his teammates — but he was respected as a man of character and was chosen as one of the team’s co-captains. He was already playing the part of coach on the floor and on the bench in Houston and brought that drive and determination with him to BYU.
He joined BYU in 1997 as an assistant coach, a move that proved the beginning of a long turnaround for the then-struggling Cougars. He ascended to head coach in 2005. That was followed by two consecutive seasons of winning the Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year award. He ends his stint with 348 wins, making him the second winningest coach in BYU history.
But it’s the years spent coaching Jimmer Fredette that fans will likely remember best. Rose and the Cougars shocked the nation and delighted Utahns when BYU received a No. 3 seed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 30 years.
Fredette and his teammates electrified sold-out crowds and focused the country’s attention on a university town in the middle of the West. The effects of that attention are incalculable. Beyond the financial rewards it brought to both BYU and Provo City, it continues to knit together the community in a special way.
Fredette’s Monday appearance in Salt Lake City, for example, proves the “Jimmer effect” is still alive and well eight years later. Utah fans greeted Fredette, dressed in a Phoenix Suns jersey, with a standing ovation as he entered the Vivint Arena to compete against the Utah Jazz.
Rose and his leadership deserve credit for being an integral part of that success.2 comments on this story
He also deserves recognition for another gritty battle with an opponent outside the sports arena. Since staving off a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2009, he has engaged in efforts to fund cancer research and partnered with the Huntsman Cancer Institute to make a brighter future for patients. Hosting charity golf events may not be as thrilling as coaching from the sidelines of a conference championship game, but it’s the kind of work that will make a difference beyond the postgame analysis. His ability to provide hope, from a place of experience and victory, will continue to inspire many.
Memories of buzzer-beaters and big victories fade, but character is a legacy that lives on. Players and coaches who worked under Coach Rose will remember the lessons of character taught to the rhythm of a bouncing ball for the rest of their lives.
For Rose and his family, we wish a happy retirement and thank them for providing 14 years of thrills, excitement and important lessons in living and serving.