DeVoe was Vol after Tennessee, too Mids coach donated time to stay in game

April 14, 1992|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- For a basketball coach without a coaching job, Don DeVoe remained busy during two seasons away from the bench.

DeVoe, 50, served as a consultant to Division I coaches and ran basketball camps after six months as interim coach at the University of Florida.

DeVoe, who was introduced yesterday as Navy's coach, said wryly: "The one thing I missed was arguing with officials."

DeVoe didn't charge for his consulting.

"I'd have felt funny about charging people who I had brought into the profession," said DeVoe, who has spent 19 seasons as a Division I coach, 11 of them at Tennessee.

He spent a lot of time this past season critiquing the program of a man who brought him into the profession in 1965. After playing with Bob Knight at Ohio State, DeVoe coached under him for five seasons at Army when both were in their 20s.

"Knight permitted me to be part of his program at Indiana this year, to the point where I was in the locker room at times," DeVoe said. "Anyone who's been associated with Knight knows he's a winner."

When reminded that he's 5-0 against Navy -- 4-0 at Army and 1-0 at Tennessee -- DeVoe claimed no credit for the Cadets' grip on the Mids in the 1960s.

"I didn't see many games when I was coaching under Knight," he said. "I got in my late-model car, drove to Oklahoma City and turned left, then to El Paso and turned right, then went to Spokane. I recruited."

DeVoe's last two jobs, at Tennessee and Florida, ended dismally. He was fired at Tennessee by athletic director Doug Dickey after nine winning seasons in 11 years, including a 19-11 record in his last, 1988-89.

Still, when Navy athletic director Jack Lengyel asked Dickey about DeVoe, the response was positive.

"He said when Don calls a timeout, something happens," Lengyel said. "He changes strategy or coverage."

Lengyel signed DeVoe to a five-year contract.

At Florida, as an interim coach arriving two weeks after practice started, when Norm Sloan and his staff were dismissed, DeVoe wasn't well-received. He had problems handling the team's star, Dwayne Schintzius.

"The fans held me responsible for Schintzius' antics," DeVoe said. "Games became a three-ring circus. An interim coach is looked on as a substitute teacher. It was a bad situation."

DeVoe arrives as successor to Pete Herrmann, fired after four straight 20-loss seasons. He took the job with his "eyes wide-open," knowing, after his five years at Army, the difficulties of working within the framework of an academy's demanding admission and academic standards.

"We probably won't get the kid who's been told by hundreds of people he'll be a multimillionaire by the age of 25," DeVoe said.

"We have to find and retain the outstanding student-athletes. They're out there."

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