The rumblings of change for BYU basketball have been slow-churning, but the Tuesday morning announcement of a press conference at BYU’s Marriott Center later that afternoon was sudden.
When head men’s basketball coach Dave Rose stepped to the podium, he said, “I’m the happiest guy in here” — then paused for some time as tears welled in his eyes and his lips quivered — “but this is going to be tough.
“Today is the day I’m going to retire.”
Rose, 61, finished his 22-year run at the school, the last 14 as head coach, with a press conference in front of family, BYU staff, players and media members, where he said he concluded his mind and body were still up for coaching, but he couldn’t trick his heart.
“It’s my coaching soul that’s put me here today. You can’t trick how you feel,” he said. “You can pretend, you can ignore it. But you know inside how you feel. My coaching soul said it was time. I’m going to be done.”
Rose was 348-135 (.720) at BYU, including a 200-27 mark at home, with eight trips to the NCAA Tournament. He retires as BYU’s all-time leader in winning percentage.
The just-concluded season was the only one in 14 campaigns where BYU did not record at least 20 wins. Rose’s Cougars recorded eight 25-win seasons during his tenure.
He also overcame a battle with pancreatic cancer in 2009 and continued to work, soon being rewarded in 2011 with a 32-5 record, a top-10 ranking for nine straight weeks and BYU’s first trip to the Sweet 16 since 1981.
“I’ve had 10 years of what some doctors have said ‘you’re playing on house money,’” he quipped. “House money has been really good to me.”
Randy Rahe, head coach at Weber State, has known Rose since the latter was head coach at Dixie State College in the 1990s.
“I think the coaching profession has lost one of the good guys,” Rahe said. “I always hate it when you lose the good guys because there’s never enough of those out there.
“I’ve got nothing but the utmost respect for him and his staff. Dave’s not only obviously a great coach, to me, he’s a better guy. He’s a really good person. He always treated me with respect — just a good dude.”
Rahe said his respect for Rose included his desire to keep coaching against each other when in-state conference shifts might have given programs like BYU an avenue to end a long-standing series with Weber State.
“He understood how important the in-state games were. That’s another way I have a lot of respect for him,” Rahe said.
“I’m sorry to see him go. I hope he’s happy. He deserves to be happy. He’s worked so hard his entire life … so if this decision is making him and his family happy, then God bless him and I hope nothing but happiness the rest of the way for him.”
Rose played in two Final Fours with the University of Houston in the early 1980s and said that was always a goal for him coaching at BYU.
“I won’t leave here with any regrets as far as how hard we worked,” he said. “But I will leave here wishing we had done a little bit more.”
BYU’s search for a new head coach begins with what is typically a smaller pool of candidates, given the religious requirements the school has for head athletic coaches.
Some candidates expected to be on BYU’s radar are Mark Pope, who assisted Rose for four seasons before taking over the head job at Utah Valley for the past four seasons; Mark Madsen, former NBA veteran and current assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers; Barret Peery, a 25-year college coaching veteran currently heading the program at Portland State; and Alex Jensen, currently an assistant coach with the Utah Jazz.