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Rose at top of his game, but how planted is he in Provo?

Published March 9, 2011 11:47 pm

Will Rose stay planted in Provo or is his time there withering?
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Las Vegas • After six seasons that have produced four regular-season conference championships, the school's first NCAA Tournament win in 17 years and records for home, road and conference victories, Dave Rose is arguably the most successful basketball coach in BYU history.

But as Rose's Cougars begin the most-anticipated period of postseason play since the Danny Ainge era on Thursday with a Mountain West Conference first-round game, a question permeates the school's massive fan base that has nothing to do with the 53-year-old Rose's phenomenal track record.

How long will Rose be content to stay planted in Provo?

Interest among higher-level programs in the fourth-winningest active coach in Division I college basketball (by percentage) surely will intensify, if it hasn't already, as high-profile jobs open up in the next few weeks, perhaps even one close to home.

A decent postseason run will only bring more attention to the best coach in the country that nobody outside the Mountain West Conference knows about.

"He doesn't get the notoriety he deserves around the country, I know that," national Player of the Year candidate Jimmer Fredette said.

Rose has said all the right things to put fans at ease when the topic comes up, telling The Salt Lake Tribune in an exclusive interview two weeks ago that he is "really happy" with his situation at BYU.

"I'm really committed to BYU, and that's how I feel right now," he said.

Of course, that was before last week's reminder to Rose — and a wake-up call for everybody else — that BYU coaches have a limited recruiting pool in part because of the honor code that sophomore center Brandon Davies violated to get himself kicked off the team. Seemingly, the Davies incident, coupled with the fact that BYU basketball is moving to a conference considered by most to be a step down from the MWC, might just be as good a time as any for Rose to make an upward move, if he desires such a thing.

Asked Monday whether he ever finds himself envious of coaches who don't have to deal with the sort of issues he dealt with last week, Rose answered with a single word: "No."

Have the events of the past week caused him to re-think his situation at BYU?

Again: "No."

But the BYU fan base remains nervous, evidenced by a question Rose fielded during his KSL Radio show Monday regarding his contentment.

"It is easy to answer the fact that I love BYU. I love coaching here," he said. "… What happens in the future I think is difficult for anybody to try and anticipate.

"But for my family, and for our coaching staff, and the players that we have coming in, I'm really committed to BYU. And that's how we feel right now."

Assistant coach Dave Rice has worked under Rose since Rose replaced Steve Cleveland in 2005.

He said Rose has never discussed a job other than the one he has right now, never dreamed out loud about what it would be like to be a head coach somewhere else.

"Obviously, in our business, or any business, a byproduct of success is that other schools will always have an interest in coaches like coach Rose who are successful," Rice said. "But I can tell you coach Rose's entire focus has always been on just helping his team be the best it can be in each game coming up."

Cougar fans may have some history in their corner. No BYU head coach in basketball or football — or any sport, perhaps — has ever left for what was perceived to be a better job at another school. Cleveland took a step down — or sideways, at best — when he left BYU for Fresno State in 2005, and even now some longtime BYU followers are surprised that happened.

Rose leaving would be considered fairly revolutionary for a man who often goes out of his way to avoid creating a stir of any kind.

"He's just a great guy, and a great coach," said Fredette. "People love playing for him because he's just a very genuine guy and will tell it like it is. He does a great job here, and I don't see anything changing."

Fredette, fellow senior Jackson Emery and Rice say Rose's biggest strength is that he's a fantastic motivator.

"He has a great feel for what his team needs in terms of motivation," Rice said. "There are times when guys need to be reassured that they are really, really good players. Then there are other times that they need to be more sternly encouraged that they need to play harder.

"I think he's got a great feel for how to motivate guys and how to get teams on the same page."

Rose's 78-18 mark in league games is the best in MWC history, and no other coach in the league can boast at least pieces of four titles the past six years.

The only goal to elude him — other than a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, a push made improbable by the Davies dismissal — is a Mountain West tournament championship, which is obviously the goal this week.

Beyond that?

It's anybody's guess.

drew@sltrib.comTwitter: @drewjay —

Top active NCAA basketball coaches

By winning percent. Minimum of 100 games coached:

1. Roy Williams UNC 79.8

2. Jamie Dixon Pittsburgh 79.0

3. Mark Few Gonzaga 78.9

4. Dave Rose BYU 78.2

5. Thad Matta Ohio State 76.6 —

Rose's BYU accomplishments

• Second on school's all-time coaching wins list with 155

• Guided Cougars to their first NCAA Tournament win in 17 years

• Fourth winningest active coach in NCAA Division I basketball (78.2 pct)

• Best home record in school history (89-5)

• Four Mountain West Conference regular-season championships

• Five straight NCAA Tournament bids

• 78-18 record in MWC games is best in league

• More than 20 wins in all six seasons

• Named MWC Coach of the Year three times —

BYU vs. TCU

P At Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas

Tipoff • 1 p.m., MST, Thursday

TV • The Mtn.

Radio • 1160 AM and 102.7 FM

Records • BYU 28-3, 14-2; TCU 11-21, 1-15

Series Record • BYU leads, 18-3

Last Meeting • BYU 79, TCU 56 (Feb. 19)

About the Cougars • They have not won the MWC tournament since 2001. ... They enter as the No. 1 seed in the tourney for the fourth time, and are 12-7 in the seven years the tournament has been played in Las Vegas ... Senior guard Jimmer Fredette leads the country with a 27.9 scoring average. He had just 23 against TCU last month in Fort Worth.

About the Horned Frogs • They advanced to the quarterfinals by defeating Wyoming 70-61 in Wednesday's play-in game. ... Guard Greg Hill had 18 points, while J.R. Cadot had 13 points and 13 rebounds. ... Garlon Green leads them in scoring with an 11.2 average. ... They have lost 15 straight games to BYU.