(Ive) been to the mountaintop (as a head coach). The view is fine. But its so much better as an assistant. Relationships are often better. N.C. State assistant coach Pete Strickland
* * * * * What helps me is when they know I played pro ball, although I dont look like I played pro ball. That helps a lot. Maybe they think I can help them get to that level. It doesnt hurt to have a guy (on staff) whos done that before. Maryland assistant coach Michael Adams
* * * * * College has helped me in my progression to hopefully become a head coach. Ive kind of had the best of both worlds. Ive prepared for games in the NBA and also in college in the ACC. Florida State assistant coach Andy Enfield
* * * * * Theres a fine line between taking a job and biding your time. I dont know how selective you can be sometimes in this profession, looking at head coaching positions. Everybody out there wants to be a head coach (and) the pool of jobs is never that big. Clemson assistant coach Frank Smith
By Andrew Jones
Wilmington (N.C.) Star-News
July 31, 2007
Comfort is important to Dino Gaudio.
The Wake Forest assistant basketball coach long has held professional dreams and desires that would take him beyond Winston-Salem, but for the longest time he was just fine serving under Skip Prosser.
Following his third year as the head coach at Loyola-Maryland - his second Division I head coaching position - Gaudio walked away from the offer of a three-year contract extension in 2000 to work for Prosser, his long-time friend and mentor.
It was a head-scratching decision in a world where status often is determined by one's title, in a community where a multitude of eager, young coaches scramble to position themselves for the head coaching positions that open each spring. To many, it's all about running a program.
But Gaudio wanted something else from the profession and was fortunate to have a fall-back option. Working for a confidant whom he trusted helped make a difficult decision easier.
"When I left to go with Skip from Loyola, I was going back to Xavier, and I had been there for six prior years as an assistant," said Gaudio, 50. "(I) loved the school, loved the people and had a great relationship with Skip. ... I did foresee myself staying with him for a significant period of time. And that bond that we had, I knew I could trust my family's and my professional future with Skip. And that was big."
Gaudio's unique path is just one of many among ACC assistant basketball coaches.
Some have run their own programs and aren't rushing into their next head coaching jobs. In addition to Gaudio, five current ACC assistants have previous head coaching experience at the Division I level: Clemson's Ron Bradley (Radford), North Carolina's Steve Robinson (Tulsa, Florida State), Virginia's Steve Seymour (Drexel), N.C. State's Pete Strickland (Coastal Carolina) and N.C. State's Monte Towe (New Orleans).
Most assistants, though, eventually want to move on.
Some coaches, including Clemson assistant Frank Smith and Duke aide Chris Collins, have spent years following the same head coach and/or working in the same program while building toward their first gigs. Others, including the Wolfpack's Strickland, derive tremendous satisfaction while assisting a major program in a tradition-rich conference and aren't as focused on that next step.
Maryland assistant Michael Adams' rare path includes playing a decade in the NBA, while the pre-Florida State working life of Andy Enfield was spent mainly improving millionaires' shooting skills.
There are many distinctive paths to becoming a head coach, of course, and their stories identify those differences.
CHRIS COLLINS, DUKE
FRANK SMITH, CLEMSON
MICHAEL ADAMS, MARYLAND
ANDY ENFIELD, FLORIDA STATE
PETE STRICKLAND, N.C. STATE