Senior Writer

Coaching Oregon through coaching search: Stop shooting for stars


It's been more than six weeks since it was first reported that Oregon would fire Ernie Kent, almost five weeks since the school formally announced the decision. And still, no coach. Seems all a new arena and a stack of Nike cash will get you these days is a bunch of informal interviews that lead to candidates deciding exactly what Missouri's Mike Anderson decided over the weekend.

"It's certainly flattering any time another university notices what your program is accomplishing, and when I was approached by Oregon, I decided to listen, but it was simply with my family in mind," Anderson said. "All that quick conversation did was reaffirm that Missouri is home to us."

Mike Anderson is just one of many coaches to take a pass on the Oregon job. (AP)  
Mike Anderson is just one of many coaches to take a pass on the Oregon job. (AP)  
In other words, Anderson talked to Oregon and realized how much he loves Missouri. Same thing happened to Gonzaga's Mark Few, Pittsburgh's Jamie Dixon, Butler's Brad Stevens, Florida's Billy Donovan, Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon, Michigan State's Tom Izzo and Minnesota's Tubby Smith, who were all connected to the opening in some form. Honestly, it's difficult to pinpoint who has and hasn't been offered the Oregon job because the search is high comedy and all over the place. As one person previously involved told "There were 100 people running around at the Final Four speaking on behalf of Oregon. Nobody knew what was real and what wasn't. Nobody knew if they were talking to the person really making the hire."

This is the result of no athletic director being in place.

There's no single voice.

Depending on who you talk with, everybody from former AD Pat Kilkenny to Nike founder Phil Knight to basketball powerbroker William Wesley to an international search firm is pulling the strings, and how about that search firm? Oregon paid a firm called Spencer Stuart $75,000 to assist. All that money has done to date is help other coaches get raises and make Oregon look foolish.

Couldn't Oregon have done that on its own for free?

I hope somebody kept the receipt.

Anyway, I'm not here to make jokes about Oregon's search because, really, who cares? Everybody knows it's a bigger mess than Tiger's marriage, and it's no fun to kick a Duck while it's down. So I'm not here to kick. I'm here to push -- as in push forward and offer advice (free of charge!).

My advice: Get it done.

One way or another, get this done this week.

Doing that will require, among other things, Oregon finally realizing no established and comfortable coach making at least $1.55 million a year (like Mike Anderson, for example) is taking the job. It's just not happening. It's time for Oregon to give up that dream, move on and come to terms with the fact that this isn't a great Pac-10 job even with a new arena and incredible resources. It's time to realize not having an athletic director in place is a huge obstacle because men like Jamie Dixon and Billy Donovan would never leave established programs and bosses who adore them for a new job without knowing who they'd be working for when they got there. It's time to realize Oregon is really far away from most places where great coaches reside. It's time to realize it's not all that sunny in Eugene. It's time to realize a valuable recruiting window is wasting away and, well, surely you get the point.

If Oregon gets the point it'll stop shopping on Rodeo Drive for Kent's replacement and go find the best guy available as of April 19, 2010. A college head coach? Call Saint Mary's Randy Bennett. An NBA coach? Call Eric Musselman. A high-profile assistant? Call Duke's Steve Wojciechowski or Chris Collins.

Any of those guys could be introduced by Friday. Hiring any of them would be better than spending the next week making a run at Phil Jackson or John Wooden or Jim Boeheim or whatever other never-going-to-happen name that must be next on Oregon's wish list. It's time for Oregon to take an honest look in the mirror and recognize that if it couldn't lure Gonzaga's coach, Butler's coach or Missouri's coach, it's not going to lure any of the types of coaches it initially thought it could. It's time to get realistic and get this done. I mean, it's been six weeks since it was first reported that Oregon would fire Kent, almost five weeks since Kent choked backed tears at his farewell news conference and said Oregon would have a hard time finding somebody with the passion and love he has for the university while acknowledging, on the other hand, that Oregon might actually find a "better basketball coach."

I agree with Kent, by the way.

I still think Oregon can find a better basketball coach.

But it's past time Oregon stopped looking in all the wrong places.

Gary Parrish is a senior college basketball columnist for and frequent contributor to the CBS Sports Network. The Mississippi native also hosts the highest-rated sports talk radio show -- The Gary Parrish Show -- in the history of Memphis. He lives in that area with his wife, two children and a dog.

Biggest Stories

CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
Conversation powered by Livefyre


Most Popular