June 14, 2012
By Morgan Romance
As men around the world celebrate Father's Day with the symbolic exchange of some pungent cologne or a dreadful tie, Florida Atlantic University Men's Head Basketball Coach Mike Jarvis and his son Mike Jarvis II celebrate by breaking down a motion offense or working on how to defend a pick and roll.
Such is the life of FAU's father-and-son coaching duo.
Jarvis began his collegiate head-coaching career at Boston University in 1985. His debut was quite successful, as he led the Terriers to a 21-10 record and a trip to the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in his first season. After compiling a 101-51 record in five seasons in Boston, Jarvis took over the reigns at George Washington University and transformed GW into a national power, finishing 19-12 in his first season and earning an invitation to the NIT. His 1992-93 team qualified for the first of four NCAA Tournament appearances, advancing to the Sweet 16.
It was also during the 1992-93 season that Jarvis and his son would first coach together. Deuce was a rookie coach, but his father trusted him and knew that he was just as good as any other assistant. The duo went on to an 18-12 season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament, which placed GW among the nation's elite.
Jarvis II's "unofficial" coaching career began in 1981, as he helped his father coach the Ronald McDonald All-American High School All-Star Game, which included future Hall of Famers Michael Jordan and Chris Mullin. That experience made Jarvis realize that his son would make a great coach...one day. During that game in 1981, Deuce observed that one of the players, Adrian Branch, was not really playing defense, so he made the decision to take him out of the game. Branch was not pleased with that decision and "plopped" himself down on the bench. .
While Branch was on the bench, the 12-year-old assistant coach, Deuce, went down and had a good talk with him. When Branch returned the game, he led his team to victory and went on to become the game's MVP.
Jarvis is currently entering his fifth season as the men's basketball head coach at Florida Atlantic University. In his third season at FAU, Jarvis led the Owls to the Sun Belt regular-season title and an NIT appearance. For his success during the 2010-11 campaign, Jarvis was named Sun Belt and NABC District 24 Coach of the Year and was also chosen as a finalist for the Ben Jobe Award, which is given to the nation's best minority coach.
Jarvis could not have accomplished many of these achievements without the help of his son.
"It has been a blessing coaching with my son. The relationship between a father and son is very special, and to have your son working with you and to be able to share in the joys and disappointments of working, coaching, and living, it is nice to be able to share it with someone that you love," Jarvis said.
Throughout their intertwined coaching careers, both men agreed that they have learned a great deal from the other.
"Mike has a lot of common sense. He reads people well, which is extremely important in this business with so many personalities," Jarvis said. "He is a great judge of people and their character, you have to be able to relate and communicate with the athletes and Mike truly knows how to do that."
While studying his father as a head coach for 23 seasons, Deuce has also picked up a few traits from his dad. Those lessons will come in handy as Deuce recently became a first time father.
"I've learned from my dad to try and be patient with coaching and to look at the big picture," Jarvis II said. "He has always told me not to make snap decisions on anything because one thing can, and will affect everything."
In any athletic environment there is always a great deal of competition and tension, but on the FAU basketball team the support system has strong roots. "We get to be together every day, we are best friends, and we get a chance to share a lot of memories with each other that most fathers and sons our age don't really get to do. There is nothing better," Jarvis II said.
While Jarvis has surrounded his self with a talented coaching staff, there is nothing quite like working with his son.
"I've got great assistants," Jarvis said. "But the best thing is knowing that you have somebody who is totally committed to you and your cause, and that he has your back. I just know that he is there and that he cares more about me than anybody else."
A laughing Coach Jarvis said that he sees a lot of himself in his son, especially when he isn't behaving the way he should. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."
And as most fathers would probably admit, the best Father's Day present is just spending time with their son.