Gorman: Vaughan fond of Pitt, UConn

Kevin Gorman
| Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Clyde Vaughan ushered Pitt into the Big East in 1982-83 and was assistant coach at Connecticut when the Huskies won the 2004 NCAA championship.

It's only natural he would have a keen interest in the final Big East regular-season meeting between the schools Saturday, given there was a time Vaughan was considered a logical candidate to succeed Jim Calhoun.

“That never crossed my mind,” Vaughan said by phone from Aurora, Ill. “I never thought I'd replace coach Calhoun because I thought he'd coach until he was 80 years old, that he'd be the Joe Paterno of college basketball.”

Instead, while Kevin Ollie coaches UConn against the Panthers at Petersen Events Center, Vaughan will be watching on TV.

“It's going to be tough, especially not seeing coach Calhoun out there,” said Vaughan, 50. “You expect to see him standing on the sideline, yelling at a player. It was tough to see him retire because he still loves the game and has the passion for it. They're going to do well with Kevin Ollie because he's a good coach and, even more important, a good person.”

That is how Vaughan would like to be known, despite his college coaching career ending in scandal. He resigned in August 2004 following an arrest in a prostitution sting by Hartford police, reportedly his third for solicitation.

Vaughan doesn't discuss the incident with shame, other than to say “it's not exactly what people read.” Calhoun, of all people, has had his back and speaks regularly with his former ace recruiter.

“Clyde would definitely have climbed the ladder, here at UConn or elsewhere,” Calhoun said. “I maintain to this day that it's really unfortunate because he really is a good man. I can tell you that. It's more of a misfortune than a misdeed by him. I can't go any further than that.

“I've always told Clyde that he made a mistake and that I believe in him. To this day, I feel terrible he's not back in coaching.”

Vaughan contributed so much to the college game as a player and a coach. Pitt announced its Big East arrival with victories over St. John's, Syracuse and Georgetown in February 1983.

“That put us on the map, beating those teams,” Vaughan said. “We just came into the Big East and weren't expected to do anything.

“The Big East was the best conference in the country. You had Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, Pearl Washington, Mark Jackson, Ed Pinckney, Michael Adams. It was a Who's Who. It was unbelievable.”

The 6-foot-4 Vaughan led the league in scoring as a junior and averaged 21.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in two Big East seasons. His 2,033 points rank No. 2 all-time at Pitt and his 922 rebounds fifth.

Calhoun said Vaughan went after recruits the same way he did rebounds — hard — and showed the promise to be a head coach.

“He wanted to be in the game so bad,” Calhoun said. “I always feel that Clyde belongs in coaching.”

Who could blame Vaughan if his mind wanders to what could have become of his coaching career?

Vaughan won't allow himself to look at it that way. He knows he can neither change the past nor reside in it. He must accept it.

“I thought some things would happen where I would be a head coach, but it didn't work out,” he said. “I look at it as it was never meant to be.”

Vaughan now follows the career of his son, C.J., a 6-2 senior guard at Oswego East. Because Clyde — who also goes by his given name, Clive — was born in England, C.J. will play for the Brits in the U-18 European Championships in July.

“He's a really, really good ballplayer,” said Vaughan, now a substitute teacher and private basketball instructor. “His game is completely different than mine. He has the range, like I did, and can really shoot it. And he's a great defender.”

C.J. is a teammate of Mike McAllister, the younger brother of UConn guard Ryan Boatright, so Vaughan still follows the Huskies. A proud Pitt alumnus, he calls earning his degree in four years at Pitt his proudest accomplishment.

It's only natural Vaughan says he has no rooting interest in the Pitt-UConn outcome.

“I'm not cheering for anybody,” he said. “I just want to see a really good basketball game.”

Almost as much as he would like to see himself coaching in it.

Kevin Gorman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at kgorman@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KGorman_Trib.

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