There are all sorts of stupid coaching searches going on right now.
Too many to count.
But the most delusional and disorganized belongs to DePaul.
|Auburn AD Jay Jacobs didn't tarry in hiring Tony Barbee as coach. (AP)|
True story: DePaul officials were told weeks ago that Tony Barbee was interested in replacing Jerry Wainwright, and that he'd be willing to talk with the Big East school as soon as his fourth season at UTEP concluded. It concluded March 18 with a loss to Butler. So it stood to reason that Barbee would get a call March 19, maybe March 20. But the call didn't come. Why? "DePaul was working off some dream list," the source said. "Phil Jackson was probably on it."
Meanwhile, Auburn called Barbee.
He interviewed with school officials last Tuesday.
And guess who called Barbee 24 hours after that?
"DePaul finally reached out and told Tony they wanted to meet him last Friday, but by then, Auburn had already offered $1.5 million a year, and he couldn't turn that down," the source said. "What happens if he tries to hold off Auburn to interview with DePaul, and then he doesn't get DePaul and Auburn moves on? He couldn't risk that. He had to take Auburn."
Just so we're clear, this isn't a column about whether Barbee would've been a good hire at DePaul. That's not the point. The point is that DePaul officials were interested in Barbee but were too late by the time they pursued him because they spent weeks and maybe months -- remember, Jerry Wainwright was fired Jan. 11 -- living in a fantasy land and making the same mistake nearly every school makes these days. That mistake: Tricking yourself into thinking something impossible is possible instead of operating from a realistic starting point. DePaul is the worst example but not the only one. Arizona and Memphis did it last year. St. John's and Oregon have also done it this year.
|More coaching links|
Coaching carousel: Keep track of the changes
I'll excuse Oregon.
Phil Knight has earned the right to dream unrealistically because he developed something called Nike and became a billionaire many times over. Once you do that, I imagine you start to think anything's possible, including luring Michigan State's Tom Izzo to Oregon. Like I said Monday, it's not happening. But can I understand why Knight might think he can do it given the other things he's done in his life? Yes, I can understand.
What I can't understand is DePaul.
Nike's founder isn't running DePaul's search, and DePaul doesn't have the advantages a Nike-backed Oregon would possess. It's a bottom-tier basketball program in a too-tough-for-its-own-good conference with bad facilities and a non-existent fan base, and that's not the type of job a comfortable and well-compensated high-major coach will take because any guy who meets that criteria is already rich.
And that's what athletic directors don't seem to understand.
Every established high-major coach is already rich.
Everybody is making money.
This wasn't the case even six to eight years ago. Back then $1.5 million a year might make someone blink. But even Auburn -- Auburn, for crying out loud -- is paying $1.5 million a year for a basketball coach these days, and it now seems coaches who are comfortable and well-compensated won't uproot their families and start over unless the opportunity presented is presented by one of the nation's truly elite programs. It's not a coincidence that we haven't seen a comfortable and well-compensated BCS-level coach leave for anything but one of the nation's truly elite jobs (i.e., Indiana and Kentucky) since John Beilein left West Virginia for Michigan in 2007. It just doesn't happen anymore. But Arizona, Memphis and Southern California all refused to acknowledge that fact last year and subsequently spent time being brushed aside in different cases by the coaches at Missouri, Baylor, Gonzaga, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Louisville and Tennessee (and others, I'm sure) before settling on an A-10 coach (Sean Miller), an assistant (Josh Pastner), and a NBA assistant (Kevin O'Neill).
St. John's, DePaul and Oregon have continued the trend of over-reaching this year.
They all want to make a splash.
Oregon might do it still because of the power of Nike.
Many suspect Minnesota's Tubby Smith will accept a reported offer.
But it should be noted that Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Florida's Billy Donovan and Gonzaga's Mark Few have already privately passed on Oregon, and Michigan State's Tom Izzo never asked the school to wait for him. Meantime, Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt passed on St. John's, UCLA's Ben Howland passed on DePaul, and when will these athletic directors learn?
Why did St. John's and DePaul think they could lure a comfortable and well-compensated BCS-level coach when Arizona, USC and Memphis couldn't? Why did St. John's and DePaul think they could lure a comfortable and well-compensated BCS-level coach when nobody except Indiana and Kentucky has done it since 2007?
Again, I'll excuse Oregon from the conversation because the Nike connection is strong.
But it's no surprise that St. John's just hired a TV analyst and DePaul is running in circles.
This is the new trend in coaching searches.
Athletic directors would be wise to take note.