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Advice from a Bearded Coach: P.J. Carlesimo

Scrolling through Bleacher Report’s “The 100 Greatest Coaches in College Basketball History” proves one thing definitively: The clean-shaven look has dominated the profession for decades. History’s greatest NCAA Basketball coaches are rarely bearded. Sure, there’s a smattering of mustaches in there—Clem Haskins, Fran Dunphy, Nolan Richardson—but there’s just one full-fledged beard: P.J. Carlesimo’s.

As ever, we contend that beards are directly correlated to wisdom. But does the wisdom flow from the beard or the beard flow from the wisdom? We’ll never really know. But here’s what we do know: As coach of Seton Hall, Carlesimo faced off with the clean-shaven Steve Fisher of Michigan in the 1989 NCAA finals. Fisher went on to recruit the Fab Five, and was subsequently fired in the wake of the Ed Martin scandal. We’re not saying Carlesimo’s beard put a hex on him—but we’re also not not saying that.

Of course, one could just as easily argue that P.J.’s beard has sowed the seeds of his own misfortune—we all know about his infamous encounter with Latrell Sprewell in 1997, in which Sprewell attacked and choked the coach. But with 35 years of experience, the lone beard in Bleacher Report’s 100-man roster can hardly be overshadowed by a single incident. His accolades include shepherding the Wagner College Seahawks to their first NIT appearance, leading Seton Hall to six NCAA berths, and righting the Brooklyn Nets’ ship as the current interim head coach.

But on to the indispensable advice: Steve Serby of the New York Post asked Carlesimo in an interview why he thought he was best for job of taking over the Nets, and his response applies to anyone with a job to be done:

"If you are a good basketball coach and you don’t feel that way, there’s something wrong. I think all of us should feel we’re the best person for a job, whatever that job is. I believe that I’m a very good basketball coach, so I believe I can do as good a job or a better job here than anyone else is gonna do. And I think if you don’t feel that way, you probably shouldn’t be coaching."

Go here for more advice from our bearded sages. And for our complete guide to growing and grooming a winter (or playoff) beard, go here.


Check out the rest of Birchbox Man’s historical advice columns here.

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