"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, March 29, 2007

MU vulnerable? You bet. What if.......

Most don't want to talk about it, but I'm sure you're thinking it. What if? What if Tom Crean leaves Marquette in the next couple of weeks. Maybe it's Kentucky. Maybe it's Florida. Maybe it's Michigan. Maybe it's Michigan State. Maybe it's Arkansas. Who knows, the dominos are starting to tilt, but none have come down just yet. That starts on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week when Billy Donovan kicks off the entire party with his decision on Kentucky, where he is clearly target #1.

What if.

I hope it doesn't come to fruition, but if it does I am a nervous Nellie. Marquette is in a vulnerable position right now on several fronts.

#1) Who's got the list?

There is no athletic director. Sure, Steve Cottingham is currently serving the role of interim athletic director, but that's like having Babe Laufenburg as your backup QB and the starter just ruptured his achilles heel on the field. Cottingham is a solid attorney and has served Marquette well over the years. His taste in Badger friends is suspect, but as a UW-Madison graduate I suspect that is a cross Cottingham has to endure from time to time. But is he ready to be THE GUY after being on the job for 2 months as an interim AD? Call me paranoid, but I also would rather not have a BADger picking our next head coach for hoops, regardless of how loyal he's been to the school. Steve's a good guy, I've had the pleasure of working with him on several occasions. I don't think he has a bias bone at all, but you just never can tell what happens after a few years in Area 51 Madison.

I have no idea if he has his hat in the ring to be the permanent AD or if he is simply keeping the seat warm for the eventual hire. The problem is, if Tom Crean were to leave Marquette in the next few weeks due to some outrageous offer or a school like Kentucky that requires that leap into the firestorm, who's left to hire the next MU basketball coach?

Ah yes...who is left? Pretty scary. Would it be the folks that came up with the genius nickname of "THE GOLD"? That inspires confidence doesn't?

Most Athletic Directors worth their salt always have "the list". It's like the nuclear football. It's either in your head or it's in a file, but you always have a list of names that you believe would be a good fit for your institution for your various coaching positions. Even when you have the guy you want successfully in place, you must have "the list". You work the phones, you talk to other AD's, you talk to other coaches....always in an effort to know who is out there that might be able to help you someday.

Well, our "list" is most likely in the head of Bill Cords who just retired. Now, maybe Cottingham has a list. Maybe it's even a good list, but doesn't that just make you a bit nervous? Has Cottingham ever hired a coach before? Has he ever evaluated what type of coach is needed? I know he can handle the contractual side of things with a high level of aptitude, but often the hiring of a coach takes a bit of experience and a sixth sense. Sometimes it's a gut feeling. Cottingham gets the legal part, understands the sponsorship portion and the business side of athletics, but that's not the same as hiring a coach.

Cords wasn't perfect, but one intangible he had was hiring coaches. He was a coach himself at Washington State. He understood coaches and understood student athletes, that is a quality that I wish we had right now in the athletic department.

No doubt MU would solicit Cords' advice and probably engage in a search firm potentially. Knowing MU, they would probably also have a committee the size of a small African nation involved in the process as well, which only complicates things. This is where a strong AD makes all the difference in the world. An AD that can make a recommendation to the President and that recommendation is as good as gold (no pun intended). MU doesn't have that right now. It would be a committee decision made by a bunch of "feel good" types that want a "nice" guy as head coach and someone that can project the university well. I'm getting more nervous just writing that because you know it's probably true. Maybe they can bring Sherri Coe-Perkins back to lead the committee (heavy sarcasm)......starting to get my drift?

#2) Comfort Level

Related to #1 is comfort level. Coaches like to go to places where they feel they can work with the AD by and large. They want to know the AD that hired him will be there for the long haul because it ads a layer of protection to some extent. Without a permanent AD, if a coach had to be hired in the coming weeks they would have to accept the fact a new sheriff was coming to town to run the department...a sheriff that did not hire this deputy.

Think about it. If you interviewed for a major job and the CEO was to hire you as a VP, but told you he was retiring within a month after the new position was filled, would you take it? You might, but it would certainly factor into your thinking that your "boss" was leaving and here you are at a high level position barely on the job with a new boss about to come in. It's a factor, don't kid yourself.

As I stated, I hope it doesn't happen, but it could in the whacky world of college basketball coaching dominos. I have no doubt in my mind that Crean is interested in Kentucky. His friends Mike DeCourcy, Jay Bilas, and other media types are certainly pumping his name out there. Perhaps they are doing it on their own volition, perhaps not. Crean has high ambitions and so do the Kentucky maniacs they call fans, but it is one of the 5 great historical (hysterical?) jobs in hoopsville so he would be crazy not to want to be considered, even if nothing public is stated.

So in the background with all of this happening one would hope someone somewhere at Marquette University is asking the question.....what if....

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I assume MU would hire a search firm, would they not?

Your point about these being the same people that picked "Gold" is frightening. Do we know if they hired a marketing company to come up with that disaster or did they come up with that on their own? It still upsets me!

Anonymous said...

wasn't it a few short weeks ago that loyal readers of this blog were calling for Crean's head?? Maybe they'll get their wish. My bet for what its worth...he stays. Ky doesn't ask and the other jobs are not as appealing, and then there is Joani and the kids. He stays..please.

muwarrior92 said...

There were a few readers here that want him gone, but the vast majority understand what the man has done for MU.

There is a vocal small minority....there always is for something.

Gene Frenkle said...

Great write-up. Also, terrible write-up as my fear-level is now at Defcon 4, at least as far as a 'bad timing' standpoint goes. One thing that I've completely and totally overlooked is the fact we don't have a permanent A.D. right now. For whatever reason, that completely escaped my mind.

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffin' glue.

Anonymous said...

For what it is worth, I have inside information that Steve Cottingham has no interest in permanently filling the AD position. He is a brilliant guy and a nice guy but MU is doing a national search for Cords' replacement.

jce said...

Look, I am sure that Cords has been preparing for the possibility of Crean leaving for awhile and already has a firm list of people he would look toward. (I think Dana Altman of Creighton would be near the top.) However, I don't think Crean leaves unless it is for Kentucky, or MSU if Izzo leaves. Choosing not to go to a loaded Illinois team means that the standard for a job he would leave MU for is very high. Arkansas, Michigan and Iowa don't seem to be above that standard.

Rumast18 said...

I respect Crean and think he is a good coach, and we need to be prepared for him to leave. I think this could be a positive, especially if we bring in someone like Bruce Pearl who deserves a High Major School. Whatever happens we have good talent and cords could always provide insight.

Anonymous said...

Rumast -- are you kidding? If we brought it Bruce Pearl I would burn my diploma on the steps of Marquette Hall. He's repulsive to me in every way.

Anonymous said...

Dana Altman, no thanks. Pearl is already in a good gig. Hopefully Crean stays and finishes what he has started at MU.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that the info regarding a search for a permanent AD is correct and that TC's father-in-law has no part in it.

I'd be very surprised if Kentucky was seriously considering TC.

Gery said...

I'm just waiting to get Gery Woelfel's take on all this. Just look at this blog and the follow up comments to see how accurate he was at projecting the strength of conferences this year-
http://www.journaltimes.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=10228

Gene Frenkle said...

Good lord! I wonder if Woelfel was the Racine sports writer that predicted all #1 seeds in the four, and all 1 and 2 seeds in the elite 8.

Solid work by the Journal Times as always.

Anonymous said...

If Crean leaves, I'd like to see Doc Rivers as new coach. He'll probably be out with the Celtics. I've always respected the guy and think he's more suited for the college game than that farce -- the NBA.

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to slight Doc. I know very little about his coaching abilities, but I think MU has bad history going with nostalgia coaches.

Anonymous said...

Who was a bad "nostalgia" coach -- you must be thinking of the Packers? Hank Raymonds and Rick Majerus are the only two I remember, and Raymonds was a very good coach, whose only fault was retiring so soon. Rick is just Rick -- a blowhard always looking for something better.

Anonymous said...

I am one who thinks Crean should go after next season with the players he as returning and the recruits he has coming in if we don't make a DEEP run! It is because of my belief, and the fact that the program hasn't gone anywhere in the tourny, that leads me to believe there is NO CHANCE that Kentucky makes a run at him. I bet there are 7-10 others in front of Crean on the order. Don't get me wrong, he has done awesome things here, probably exceeded expectations, but for the last two years things have not gone as well come tournament time and that is all Kentucky cares about. I think a guy like Pearl has a much better chance to get an offer from Kentucky than Crean would. At least Pearl has won some tournament games on a consistent basis without a futrue NBA superstar!!!