For the first time in 25 years, George Raveling isn't pacing a sideline and taking in the thrill a moment that is coaching college basketball.
And his life has never been better.
"The [coaching] job is just not fun anymore," said Raveling during a recent visit at CBS headquarters in New York. "I can't tell you how many of my former colleagues have come up to me and said, 'Boy, I really envy you.' Part of what they're saying, if I read them correctly, is: 'You walked away, but you walked away on your own terms.'
"Think about it. Ninety-eight percent of the coaches, when they walk away, they are terminated on someone else's terms and they put their own spin on it."
Raveling -- who did analysis of first- and second-round games for CBS from Albany, N.Y., last weekend -- did leave the head coaching job at Southern California before this season, but not before the spin of an automobile that nearly cost him his life.
Raveling, 58, was involved in a car accident in Los Angeles that kept in a hospital bed for an extended period, which gave him time to think about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
Raveling had to decide if he wanted to spend any more time in a profession that has become far more turbulent than when he broke in as an assistant to then-Maryland coach Lefty Driesell in 1970 as the first black assistant coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"The easiest part of the job is coaching. In a 12-hour day now, you probably spend nine of those hours dealing with non-basketball issues," said Raveling. "You'll see more and more prominent coaches get out of it. So many of my peers say, 'What else can I do?' Someone told me, 'George, don't ever let yourself get in a situation where you can't walk away when you're ready.' It's such a display of lack of self-esteem to say, 'What else can I do?' "
What Raveling could do was talk articulately about the game, as his impressive debut last weekend indicated.
"This is great," Raveling said with a broad smile. "I spent [a lot of time] each day preparing for these games. I attack these games like I am playing UCLA."
) Spoken like a true coach.
Heading for the homestretch
Both the men's and women's tournaments crown their Final Fours this weekend, and CBS and ESPN will have virtually every second of each regional final.
On the men's side, CBS leads into tomorrow's West and Southeast championships with the Division II men's title game from Louisville, Ky., with Dick Stockton and Ann Meyers on the call at 12:30 p.m. Sunday's East and Midwest finals are preceded by the announcement of the Naismith men's and women's players and coaches of the year at 1:30 p.m, all on Channel 13.
ESPN will air all four of the women's regional championship games tomorrow, starting with the East at 11 a.m., the Mideast at 7:30 p.m., the Midwest joined in progress at 9:30 and the West
Jordan goes home
Michael Jordan makes his triumphant return home to Chicago tonight, as the Bulls are host to the Orlando Magic on TNT at 8:30. His former coach, Doug Collins, who will analyze the game, says Jordan's return immediately elevates the formerly foundering Bulls to title contender status.
"You'd have to make them a contender," Collins said yesterday on a conference call. "They can handle all that goes with the pressure of his return and the drama that surrounds him. Potentially, they could be better than their championship teams, because they have more offensive weapons. The key is going to be how will their interior people perform."