Sunday Morning Coffee

Yesterday CBS had a couple of shows targeted to the 75 Anniversary of the NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament. One of the two shows consisted of a roundtable with some very successful coaches including Rick Pitino and Billy Donovan.

Pitino is a true titan of college coaching, he’s taken three different teams to the final four (a total of six final four appearances) and won the title as coach of Kentucky in 1996. Donovan was a star on the Pitino coached Providence team that went to the final four in 1987. After a cup of coffee in the NBA Donovan went to work for Pitino as an assistant for five years before getting a head job at Marshall before going on to University of Florida where he coached them to back to back national titles in 2006 and 2007.

As a side note, the vast majority assistant coaches make almost no money, they are doing it for love of the task and for the hope of getting a shot as a head coach. If you are a fan of college basketball then you’ve probably noticed how many assistant coaches each team has (seven or eight is not uncommon) and again maybe one of them makes something resembling a living. The reason there are so many is because someone gave each head coach a shot to start out and the move up and so the guys who do reach the pinnacle (a head coach job) are returning the favor.

Back to Donovan and this show yesterday; as successful as Donovan has become it was striking to see the profound effect (from Donovan’s point of view) that Pitino not only had on his life but still has on his life.

I believe a huge factor in being successful (my thoughts here are not limited to financial success) comes from who we are fortunate enough to be influenced by at different points in our lives. It would be easy to point to a parent, teacher, coach or early boss but this can come from anywhere. In addition to above examples I personally have been influenced by people I’ve known through my involvement with the fire department.

There is a picture that I have seen posted a few times on Facebook that says be the person your dog thinks you are which I think is pretty clever.

As we go into a new year there is of course talk of resolutions and goals which can include the manner in which we can help others. There is a tie in to investing with all of this in a point I have made before. Many of you reading this and other blogs are the go to person in your family or social circles for investment advice and you have the opportunity to do a lot of good for other people the way that an influential coach might.

The picture is our haul of Cowboy Coffee Porter which is produced by Big Sky Brewing, the company that makes Moose Drool. The Cowboy Coffee Porter only comes out every couple of years and this is the year. If you like dark beer (all things in moderation) then give it a try, although it is difficult to find.


  1. A commendation should go to T for helping people in need. Helping others is the greatest inspiration one can attain as a human.
    Jeff from nyc

  2. “As a side note, the vast majority of assistant coaches make almost no money…” Hmmm, i humbly disagree. To cite one example, here in central illinois, the top bb assistant at the U of Illinois in 2011-12 was pulling down $180k/yr, and the other 3 assistants were all right at $100k/yr. I make $70k and have a nice lifestyle in central IL; $100k/yr is quite a bit more than ‘almost no money’. Also, the actual number of assistants at UI (bb) is 3 – there a couple other guys who are actually director of bb operations and video coordinator – but are not allowed to coach. Of course, fb asst coaches make much more – UI has 2 co-off coordinators each making $400k currently. Perhaps you were thinking of DII or DIII or possibly mid-major bb assistants?

  3. I think a lot of DIII assistants also teach in the phys ed dpt and are on the faculty; anyway, my points are 1) ‘almost no money’ is in the eye of the beholder and 2) it’s very possible to have a very nice lifestyle on ‘almost no money’.

  4. I agree with Roger that inspiration is taken from individuals during the course of one’s life. Two or three folks in my life have had a major, positive impact upon me. I am a better person because of them.

    On the dark side of Roger’s observation, I have also received inspiration from observing, or being a subordinate to, complete idiots who were self serving, cheaters, dictatorial, unfaithful or any one, or more, of a number of other ills. I swore I’d never be like them!

    The sum of life’s experiences make up the individual.Importantly, we need to continually grow as human beings, living an improved life every day until we have no more life to give.


  5. Jeff. absolutely correct about T.

    8:33, When I said no money I meant like flirting with the poverty line. Great for the coaches if I have that wrong but I would be shocked if the majority of assistant basketball coaches made $70-$100k.

  6. 11:10 roger: Found on the web:

    “The salaries vary so widely that it is difficult to give an all encompassing answer.

    First, there are the “First Assistant”, “Second Assistant” and “Third Assistant” coaches. The First Assistant is paid more than the Third Assistant. Second, a D1 major university will pay more than a D3 college.

    In 2008, for D1 major universities:

    The highest paid men’s assistant coach made $260,000. The lowest salary for a third assistant at a major university was $65,000 for men.”

    Note these are 2008 figures. Also, as i said, there are usually just 3 asst coaches at the D1 level in bb, not 7 or 8; there will likely be a couple others assisting but not as coaches, – they handle video, etc. – and even these guys usually make a pretty decent salary – at U of Illinois, ~ 70k/yr.

    By comparison, I live in central illinois and live on 60% of my $70k/yr salary, that’s 42k, with 28k going into retirement/emergency fund accounts, and i think i have a pretty nice lifestyle. But the asst coaches (all 3 of them) at the U of I make much more than i do – they may think they have it tough, but not really.

    Usually when I hear someone talk about not making much money, it turns out they have a spending problem, not an income problem.

    Anyway, not meaning to belabor the point, i know your post was deeper than this example, the example simply piqued my interest.


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