The Big 5 coaches aren't a fraternity. They are more like brothers.
They compete, they argue and sometimes they even fight, but at the end of the day, they are still family. And while they might pick on each other, they don't let outsiders do it without having something to say.
Of the five current men's basketball coaches, the longest-running relationship is between Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli and Temple coach Fran Dunphy. Since Martelli took over the Hawks in 1995, he has faced Dunphy 23 times in Big 5 play — the first 11 times when Dunphy coached Penn and the last 12 while he has been at Temple.
Saturday at St. Joe's, Martelli and Dunphy, who has essentially been forced to retire from Temple at the end of this season, will meet for the 24th and what is likely the final time in Big 5 play. Temple announced before the season that Dunphy would step down and be replaced by assistant coach and former Owls player Aaron McKie.
Wednesday night after his Hawks beat the Illinois-Chicago, Martelli got emotional while trying to talk about his final City Series encounter with Dunphy, the man who has been dubbed Mr. Big 5 for his career as a player at La Salle, then as an assistant and finally a head coach in the informal/formal association of Philadelphia colleges.
Dunphy has spent 36 of his 70 years affiliated with the Big 5.
"I wish you wouldn't have asked that," said Martelli, who immediately began to choke up and hold back tears. "This isn't going to be easy.
"[Dunphy] is not just an outstanding coach. That's a great man.
"Let me just leave it at that because I don't want to, uh … what they've done to him is wrong."