On many occasions I’ve told people I wish I had listened to my colleague (and former geometry teacher) way back in 1971. George Towne (and that’s really his name) brought in to Highland Park High School one of those huge IBM mainframes. He was going to teach all of HPHS’ math teachers about this computer thing. I was in my second year teaching math and coaching football and basketball at my alma mater, but was working toward obtaining a graduate assistant position (by writing over 200 letters to colleges at all levels, all over the country).
Since I knew exactly what I wanted to do, I avoided George and his new giant, rectangular friend - which took up about a quarter of the space of our tiny math department office. Why did I need to know about something so far removed from hoops? Somehow, I always managed to get out of his workshops, not realizing how much more comfortable I’d be when computers became the rage.
Although my shortsighted anti-computer attitude is one of my great regrets (unlike another Jersey guy, I have many of them), it had no shortage of company from others in the coaching fraternity. In the mid-70s, work was the catchword of my new profession and that is what all of us prided ourselves in - outworking people - day and night. And loving it!
By the 1980s the work ethic paradigm was still in vogue but with a caveat - eating better and exercising. More fiber, smarter food choices and jogging swept through the profession. But, for the life of me, I can’t remember computers as an integral part of our work with the possible exception of the athletic development and ticket offices.
During the early 1970s, I worked for George Raveling as a grad assistant at Washington State. Rav, who became one of my two greatest mentors, and I hooked up again in 1991 at USC, only this time my title was associate head coach. Cell phones had now flooded our profession, as well as the rest of society. It was becoming evident that computer knowledge was going to be mandatory for success - or survival.
If there was someone who knew less about computers than I did, it was my man George. Only he had a plan. He simply followed the advice of my other brilliant mentor, the late John Savage, who used to say, “Never do anything you can get someone else to do.” It wasn’t as trite it sounded. For example, in addition to being a motivational speaker, John was a giant in the life insurance industry. During one of the newly established NCAA dead period (May), I’d travel with him when he spoke and he was the most basic, down-to-earth person I’d ever encountered. One thing he’d say to other insurance agents was, “Why waste your time filling out an application? Have your secretaries fill out apps. Do what you do best: sell!”
George, now in his 70s, is one of the brightest people I know. He’s always shared information with his friends, whether it’s the best dining or shopping experiences or book recommendations and travel spots. While he’s certainly capable of learning computer skills, he felt (since he has the means), “Why not get someone else to do it?” He’s hired an absolute computer whiz (whose name is withheld because I haven’t asked him for permission to print it) who’s designed CoachGeorgeRaveling.com. It is chock full of information, in addition to where to dine, shop and what to read, there are interviews with George and legendary coaches (Lefty Driesell, Jerry Tarkanian, John Chaney, Nolan Richardson, Joe B. Hall, John Calipari) as well as other sports figures (David Falk, Ann Meyers Drysdale, Harry Edwards, Howard Garfinkel). Also, there are a plethora of sensational interviews with George himself. Sensational because I happen to be the one interviewing him.
Other categories are articles (two of which I’ve authored - Top Ten Traits of a College Assistant Coach & The Greatest, Most Realistic, Pressure Free Throw Shooting Drill) on nearly every area of basketball - for coaches and players, the latest NBA news, George’s famous “Life Lessons”, leadership, and other topics that are captivating, interesting and educational.
Anyone who knows George Raveling will tell you he has no problem spending money. Luckily, throughout his life, he’s had no trouble making it either. He put together his strength with a concept spoken about in a book titled The McKinsey Way by Ethan Raisel to create his website (which I’m sure you realize I highly recommend):
“I would rather be surrounded by smart people than have a huge budget. Smart people will get you there faster.”