Fran Dunphy has never been known as someone who seeks out the limelight.
Even with 14 NCAA tournament appearances in 22 seasons, after four top-10 victories in the past four years, after numerous Atlantic 10 titles, Dunphy has always been much more comfortable with those around him getting most of the attention.
For one night (April 11), however, for a very worthy cause, Fran Dunphy stepped out of his comfort zone, agreeing to get roasted by his colleagues in front of a room filled with Temple alumni and donors.
“My style is not to do this...this is maybe the worst thing that ever happens to me--somebody talking about me,” he said. “But it's for a cause that I truly, truly believe in...you have done great things for a wonderful, wonderful institution.”
The event, a silent auction followed by the roast, was for the benefit for the Temple University chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters, an organization that pairs adult volunteers with children in a mentoring program.
“All of us as coaches, we all have messages every single day,” Dunphy added. “It's not about you as an individual, it's about trying to give back to the community and help somebody else who's not as lucky as we are.”
The room was filled with a who's who of the Philadelphia college basketball scene, from Dunphy's former players at both Penn and Temple to former Owls coach John Chaney to Dan Dougherty, who coached Dunphy at Malvern Prep back in the 1960s.
The emcee of the evening was WIP's Joe Conklin, the “Man of the 1000 Voices” who impersonated Mayor Nutter and former governor Ed Rendell as well as Temple legends Bill Cosby and Chaney, who fired back a few lines to some of Conklin's jabs.
Joining Dougherty at the roast podium were current City 6 coaches Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph's), Jerome Allen (Pennsylvania) and Bruiser Flint (Drexel), all of whom have known Temple's coach for decades.
Even some of those who couldn't make the event--Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, as well as Comcast Sports Network's Michael Barkaan and Neil Hartman--sent in videos filled with both jokes and congratulations on the event.
Temple alum Rob Charry, now a radio host at WIP, and former La Salle coach Speedy Morris also took their turns sharing stories about Dunphy, but all of them ended their speeches with nothing but praise for one of the most respected coaches in the game.
“He's as good a basketball coach as there is in the country. The guy is as good as you can be at coaching basketball and has been since he was at Malvern Prep,” Martelli said. “But the man that he is...Dunphy is like a brother to everybody in this room.”
“He's a great person...he's an unbelievable coach,” said Flint, who took note of Dunphy's former players in the room. “One thing that I like to see is that when your guys come back...that means that he's played a part in their lives and they really appreciate him.”
Flint and the rest of the speakers got in their digs as well, ranging from Allen's critique of Dunphy's dentist to Dougherty's insistence that his former pupil spent three years in Algebra one before a senior year in “Algebra 1.5.”
When the man of the evening finally got his chance to speak, however, there was no roasting to be had.
“Martelli always tells me...if you're funny, be funny, if you're not, then don't try it,” Dunphy said when he took the podium to cap off the evening. “So I got no comebacks to any of these guys that are up here.”
As usual, all the humble coach had were kind words and thanks for the hundreds of people who made it a night to remember.
by Josh Verlin, philahoops.com writer & Temple SCT '12 @jmverlin