Happy 80th birthday to the legend that is University of North Carolina basketball, Dean Edwards Smith, and a classy move by Maryland's Gary Williams to mention it during last night's post-game.
As time passes, Smith has lost or will lose a number of his individual records, but his impact on the college game endures. Whether it is his on-court innovations like the run-and-jump defense and Four Corners, or his off-court work for social justice and the racial integration of Chapel Hill and college sports in general, other coaches may win more games or more titles, but none were as influential as Smith.
Particularly amazing about Dean Smith was that, in spite of fame, fortune, national titles, and one of the country's largest arenas bearing his name, he never lost the personal touch that endeared him to so many people. He was famous for his prolific letter- and card-writing, often congratulating players on their accomplishments or remembering their children's birthdays. And his caring in this area went beyond those in the basketball family, as I was twice the recipient of correspondence from Dean Smith that went above and beyond the call of respect and kindness.
Congratulations to the Dean of College Basketball!