Provo • It has been a little more than three months since Dave Rose announced he was stepping away from his pressure-filled position as BYU’s men’s basketball coach and into retirement.
In a half-hour interview with The Salt Lake Tribune last week, Rose reminisced about his 22 years in Provo, the past 14 as the leader of one of BYU’s most successful athletic programs.
Rose said he has “no regrets whatsoever” about that late-March decision to call it a career, a move that shocked many BYU supporters. At times he’s wondered if he should have retired a year or two sooner.
“However long it has been, I will tell you this: my activities around town, my interactions in public, have been great,” Rose said. “With the way people have treated me, maybe I should have quit a long time ago.”
Rose said a University of Utah fan stopped him in the airport a few weeks ago and told him he loved watching his BYU teams play and respected the job he did with the Cougars.
“I said, well, one of the best things about being retired now is I can actually cheer for the Utes. That will be fun," Rose said.
Still, most of his basketball fandom will remain focused on BYU.
“I really am looking forward to watching this next year’s team and cheering for them and seeing how they do," Rose said. "I will keep watching, just from a different vantage point.”
At the request of former BYU star Jimmer Fredette and his brother, TJ Fredette, Rose will help coach Team Fredette in The Basketball Tournament later this month at the Maverik Center, but other than that he says he hasn’t thought about basketball much. His thoughts have been elsewhere.
Three days after former BYU assistant Mark Pope was hired to replace him, Rose’s father, Jack, died after battles with bladder, skin, prostate and stomach cancer. His funeral was April 19.
“This stomach cancer was what finally got him,” Rose said. “He lived a great life. He fought cancer for a long time, but he was [doing better] and then we lost him. We thought we had a little longer, but that wasn’t the case.”
Still, the family considered it a blessing that Jack Rose hung on that long. “He was able to come to our last four or five home games," Rose said, "and when I got home from the Final Four, I went over to visit him and we talked about all three of the games, how great the games were.”
Four days later, the man who introduced BYU’s all-time wins leader (348, pending an appeal to the NCAA over the likely loss of 47 wins in the Nick Emery improper benefits case) to the sport of basketball passed away. He was 87.
Rose and his wife, Cheryl, were hoping to travel the world and watch some of his former players such as Brandon Davies, Jonathan Tavernari and Tyler Haws, but his father’s death postponed those plans. Maybe next year.
Still, the couple has traveled to Moab, Las Vegas and Portland, Oregon (to visit a daughter who’s in law school there), and spent a couple of weeks in Hawaii while Pope and his new staff moved in.
“Yeah, I’m happy,” Rose said. “This time of the year is pretty stressful for a coach. You are trying to put your team back together for the next year, and the recruiting still goes on for teams down the road. I don’t miss any of that."
The Roses plan to continue to live in the Provo-Orem area for the foreseeable future, because they are in the process of building a new home — “the home I have said I would put Cheryl in forever, but never had time to do it” — and all their grandkids now live in the area.
Here are more highlights from The Tribune’s interview with Rose:
On BYU hiring Pope as his replacement:
“I think that there were a good group of assistant coaches that had worked with us over the years that I thought would all be quality candidates. They hired probably the most experienced one among the people who were really interested in it. I think Mark has proven himself as a guy who can run a program, as he did down the street at Utah Valley. I am really happy for him. He is a guy that I have a relationship with and has been a part of BYU before. He will do a great job. He’s got so much energy, and so much passion. He loves the game.
"I told him that to be really in the right frame of mind, and to be really comfortable in that position, you have to fall in love with BYU somehow. If it is the students, or if it is the fans, or if it is the players, there is something that you really have to be passionate about in order to get through the challenges.”
On how he thinks BYU will fare next season and which games he will attend:
“I will probably go to quite a few, and even some away games. I will probably go to the Houston game. The Maui Classic will be great, too. I am excited to just watch them from afar. Obviously, I know most of these guys that are on this team.
"The six seniors that they have, we signed them all at one time. Even Jake [Toolson] played for us for a couple of years. So, it will be fun to watch how they put it together and how they go. It will be a heckuva challenge, but it could be one of BYU’s best teams if it all works together, works right.”
On what he and Pope talked about before Pope accepted the job:
“I think most of that conversation was just about the way that I feel that BYU had changed over the years...
"You have to keep your guys. You have to figure out a way to keep those guys. You know, they get married, and their wives get anxious, and they want to leave and their wives don’t like their husbands being evaluated publicly. Once that happens, I think you really have to take a real priority in that group of guys.
"I think this team has seven or eight married guys, which is totally different from when we started here. We would have two or three, maybe four. But now we are getting close to double figures, and that means the team dynamics are a little bit more difficult.”
On whether he’s still involved in the NCAA appeal to keep the 47 wins that could be vacated:
“No, that’s the university’s fight, and its issue now. I don’t really worry about it that much. That was obviously a really difficult point in my tenure at BYU. But we got through it, and it is in the past, and I hope Nick [Emery] has a great senior year. He deserves it.”
On whether he regrets keeping Emery in the program after the guard’s well-publicized missteps:
“No, I’m OK with it. I don’t think that will be a real public part of my career. That was a very personal challenge that I had as a coach to try to help that student athlete, that person. I have a great relationship with the family. Obviously, his brother [Jackson Emery] and I have been close forever, and I have known his mom and dad a long time. I just felt like I was in a really good position to help Nick — not so much basketball-wise, but help him find himself again from a really difficult spot. I think if you look at where he was, to where he is now, there is no question in my mind that I did the right thing for him, and everybody else can judge the rest of it.”
On his thoughts on star forward Yoeli Childs returning to BYU:
“I was just so happy for Yoeli, first of all. I mean, Mark and I talked at the Final Four, before he had accepted the job, and we talked about Yoeli, and I said ‘hey, listen, I have been with this kid for three years, and he’s a little bit different — when he gets the information from the [NBA], and if the information doesn’t come back like he wants it, I mean, there’s a chance, not a good chance, not a 50-50 chance, I don’t know what the chance is, but there’s a chance that this kid will want to come back and give it another shot so that he can get drafted.’ And Mark seemed a little bit surprised at that. I think everyone had told him that Yoeli was done and he was gone.
"But Mark is good. He stayed on that. I think the experience of Chris Burgess and Mark, as far as their pro careers were concerned, and the countries that they played in, and his opportunity to make the NBA one time, and then when you take these other opportunities, you basically lose your shot at it.
"I think all of that played into it. Especially with [Burgess], because Chris played all over the world in different places. Yoeli had a couple contracts offered and presented to him in different places. But it wasn’t the NBA, and so when I heard that he was coming back, I was really happy for him. And happy for the staff, because that’s the best recruit they could have gotten.”