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March 22, 1997|From Staff and Wire Reports

If Tennessee is interested in Chattanooga Coach Mack McCarthy, it may have to get in line.

Memphis and Louisiana State want to talk with McCarthy after the season ends about their vacant coaching jobs.

"It's funny, but our team is no better than it was two weeks ago, and I'm no better coach than I was two weeks ago," McCarthy told the Chattanooga Times on Thursday. "It's just that, because of our success in this tournament, people have noticed that we have a good program."

McCarthy wouldn't talk about the job offers. He has said any professional advancement wouldn't be discussed until the season is over.

His wife, however, gave a little more away.

"There's one big reason that's a wrong assumption," Jean McCarthy said as she pointed to the couple's 10-year-old daughter, Katie. "I told Mack after we left Auburn, I never wanted to move again. We've had 12 great years in Chattanooga, and it's Katie's birthplace. It would take a special job to get Mack away from Chattanooga."

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Colorado officials remain confident Ricardo Patton will stay in Boulder despite a lucrative offer from Memphis.

Television stations in Memphis and Denver reported that Memphis offered Patton a five-year contract worth $400,000 a year to replace Larry Finch, who resigned at the end of the season.

"The world didn't turn upside down," Colorado Athletic Director Dick Tharp said of the reports. "If he has an offer, great. But he also has an offer to remain as basketball coach of the University of Colorado."

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Seven finalists were named for the first Clair Bee Award, presented to a coach for his innovation and influence.

The finalists are Dean Smith of North Carolina, Clem Haskins of Minnesota, Bob Thomason of Pacific, Roy Thomas of North Carolina A&T, Ritchie McKay of Portland state, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Melvin Watkins of North Carolina Charlotte.

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