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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Mellow Chaney retires
The famously irascible coach steps down after 34 years, 24 with Temple.
By wire services
Published March 14, 2006
PHILADELPHIA - John Chaney's scowl was gone, the dark, deep-set eyes concealed behind sunglasses.
The raspy voice, which has boomed to the upper deck of many arenas, was hushed. It was perhaps one final, subdued look at a Hall of Fame coach who realized it was time to leave Temple.
This indeed was a different Chaney.
"Excuse me while I disappear," Chaney said, his shirt unbuttoned and his unraveled tie draped over his shoulders.
With those words, Chaney left the podium Monday and retired after 24 seasons at Temple, ending a 34-year coaching career of fatherly, off-the-court mentoring that was sometimes overshadowed by his temper.
"It's always a very traumatic time, but it is time," Chaney said. "Temple gave me a chance to make my own decision, and that's the great thing about it. Right now I'm faced with another problem with my wife, so it's the right time to go."
Chaney will not coach the Owls' opening NIT game against Akron tonight because his wife, Jeanne, was scheduled for a procedure for an undisclosed health problem. Assistant Dan Leibovitz will take his place, and it was not clear if Chaney would return to the bench if Temple won.
Chaney, 74, guided Temple to 17 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five region finals, where he went 0-5. He was twice named national coach of the year and entered the Hall of Fame in 2001.
This season, Temple (17-14) made its fifth straight NIT.
In typical Chaney fashion, Monday was no ordinary goodbye. Flanked by former and current players and coaches, Chaney wove his life story around amusing anecdotes about his friend Bill Cosby, a playful threat to slap the mayor and several pokes at school administration.
Chaney also wiped away tears and talked at length about a favorite subject: education's role in helping the poor and disadvantaged.
"I'm going to be mean and ornery when I see something that's wrong and I'm going to try and right it," Chaney said.
Chaney has 741 wins, including a 516-252 record at Temple, where he won seven Atlantic 10 titles. His teams did remarkably well considering Chaney couldn't recruit the high school All-Americans who filled the rosters of the power conferences.
Chaney was a commanding figure on the court: restless, cranky, his otherwise natty clothes in shambles by the end of the game. Often, as he exhorted his team, he put himself in situations he later regretted.
Last season, Chaney seemed on his way out. He inserted a player he called a "goon" into a game against Saint Joseph's for the sole purpose of committing hard fouls because he thought the Hawks were using illegal screens. The Hawks' John Bryant ended up with a broken arm after being knocked out of the air. Chaney apologized and was suspended for five games. In 1984, Chaney grabbed George Washington coach Gerry Gimelstob by the shoulders at halftime. In 1994, he had a heated exchange after a game against UMass in which he threatened to kill coach John Calipari. Chaney apologized and was suspended for a game.