Jerry Tarkanian - Helps Coach High School Team
Helps Coach High School Team
An unremarkable scholar, Tarkanian ran out of eligibility before he earned his degree from Fresno State. Years later he told the Akron Beacon-Journal: "It took me six years to get through college. I knew where the gym was and how to find every party. People would have said that it was a million-to-one shot that I'd ever graduate. They said I didn't belong in college." When his eligibility ran out, Tarkanian helped coach at Fresno's San Joaquin Memorial High School. After graduating from Fresno State, he joined the high school's staff as head basketball coach. Tarkanian coached at four California high schools before he was hired in 1961 by Riverside Junior College to lead its basketball team, which hadn't had a winning season in 11 years. Under Tarkanian's direction, Riverside's basketball team became the first in California to win three consecutive state junior college championships. It was during this period that he married Lois Huter, whom he'd met while both were students at Fresno State. The Tarkanians have four children: Pamela, Jodie, Danny, and George.
In 1966 Tarkanian took over as head basketball coach at Pasadena City College and worked the same sort of magic he'd produced at Riverside. In his very first year as coach, he led the Pasadena team to a state championship. The next stop in Tarkanian's coaching career was Long Beach State College, the first four-year college at which he'd coach. Beginning at Long Beach in 1968, he quickly acquired a reputation for his unorthodox recruiting and coaching style. He came under fire for what some saw as his heavy reliance on younger players as well as others who were less than stellar students. Tarkanian also attracted attention for flouting the unwritten rule that three of a team's five starting players should be white. This dramatic departure from racial convention established Tarkanian in the black community as a coach who not only talked about equal opportunity but actually practiced it, according to Richard O. Davies, author of The Maverick Spirit, a book about controversial Nevadans. This reputation would pay great recruiting dividends later in his career.