Dunlap: Hey Duquesne, Hire Mike Rice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – OK, I’m here.

I have arrived at a place I didn’t know if I would ever get to.

Here we go …

HIRE MIKE RICE! HIRE MIKE RICE! HIRE MIKE RICE!

It’s time.

The man has paid his penance, his reparations are complete and perhaps most of all, the perfect job for him is open and seemingly no one wants it … Duquesne.

Yeah, there you go, short and sweet — Mike Rice needs Duquesne and Duquesne could use Mike Rice. It all fits; fits like a perfect glove.

Going over the backstory blow-by-blow probably isn’t necessary. You know it by now. He was a hotshot, up and coming coach before about four years ago when it came to light while he was coaching at Rutgers that Rice pushed, berated, used homophobic slurs toward players and threw basketballs at them.

Unconscionable behavior by any measure.

Just absurd and reprehensible.

Rice got what he deserved. He was fired and made to wear a Scarlet Letter of sorts in the college basketball world. He went to anger management, his reputation was stained and he’s been on the outside looking in ever since, although I know — and this isn’t a guess, I know — he wants back into college coaching.

Then there’s the other side…Duquesne’s side.

They have, to put it mildly, become an embarrassment.

You can make a claim it is the worst job in Division I basketball and you might not be all that far off. Save for Duquesne playing in a multi-bid league, what do the Dukes have going for them right now?

And it has nothing to do with current president Ken Gormley or athletic director Dave Harper. Both of those men are diligently trying to be an enormous part of the solution. They both want to get this thing fixed in a big way and are willing to make a commitment to do so.

Duquesne spiraled into being a terrible college basketball job, and program, because of former president Charles Dougherty (who treated basketball as a nuisance) and former athletic director Greg Amodio, who was equally (if not more so) inept.

Gormley and Harper are trying to undo the incredible damage done by Dougherty and Amodio and it is a monumental task. But you know what? I wouldn’t bet against the two new guys.

Here’s some advice — hire Rice. It would bring an instant splash, an instant recognizability and most of all, a guy who can coach. After all, Duquesne, I don’t know how choosy you can be right now. How many people reportedly turned down the job at last count? Six? Nine? Eleven? It’s hard to keep track.

Does Duquesne want a coach who knows the Atlantic 10? At least that is what I have heard — that it is imperative to some involved in making the decision that the next coach has a deep understanding of Duquesne’s league.

Rice played at Fordham, was an assistant there and at St. Joseph’s. He knows his way around and has cultivated relationships with high school and AAU coaches in New Jersey, New York City and Philadelphia — all of which are recruiting areas vital to the lifeblood of a program trying to compete in the Atlantic 10.

On top of that, he knows Pittsburgh. Rice was an assistant at Pitt in 2006-07 and head coach at Robert Morris from 2007-10.

And about that Robert Morris job? Is Duquesne looking for a guy who forced a seismic shift within a program and pushed them to heights the program has rarely seen?

I mean, certainly that is one of the qualifications Duquesne athletic director Dave Harper has to be looking for right now, right? He has to be looking for a guy who is a “program builder,” one who can extract a program from the doldrums and make it relevant.

Rice certainly made Robert Morris relevant, going 73-31 in three seasons and catapulting the Colonials into back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2009 and 2010 after they hadn’t been in the field since 1992. And who can forget when his little No. 15-seed Colonials got thoroughly jobbed by the officials before losing in the opening round to No. 2-seed Villanova, 73-70?

I know I can’t.

I also know Mike Rice coached Jay Wright off the damn floor that day.

It wasn’t even close. He buried Wright.

And not to get all philosophical, but shouldn’t Duquesne of all places —- a Catholic university — be a beacon of forgiveness, redemption and mercy? Shouldn’t Duquesne be more tolerant of second-chances than most places if they really want to live by the guideposts that great school is set upon?

I think so.

I think it might be time for the school to hire Mike Rice.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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