JEROME ALLEN got an intriguing call from Larry Brown early in the week. Brown was closing on a deal to coach SMU and he wanted a younger head coach with recent college experience to join him as an assistant and perhaps as a head coach in waiting.

Allen, just finishing his second full season as Penn head coach, listened to Brown, who once coached him with the Indiana Pacers. He took the possibility under consideration while also, according to several close friends, realizing he was given a unique opportunity at his alma mater and had already brought the Quakers quite a long way in a very short time. Allen, the friends thought, wanted to finish what he started at Penn and get the Quakers back to their customary spot atop the Ivy League.

Brown officially took the SMU job Thursday. Meanwhile, Allen, who was traveling and could not be reached for comment, was still considering his options. Those friends said his love of Penn might be difficult for Brown to overcome. reported that Brown was also considering Illinois State coach Tim Jankovich for that coach-in-waiting spot.