Jim Boylen would evaluate and call and visit and pursue, talk to mommas and daddies and cousins and summer coaches. He'd sell a kid on himself as a person, on Salt Lake as a city, on Utah as a university. And the recruiting process always seemed to go well until the other side countered with sentences that usually began the same way: But ...
"You're always fighting that top level, and you might still be neck-and-neck on a kid, but they always have the but. But you're not in the Pac-10. But you're not in the Big 12," Boylen told CBSSports.com by phone. "It's used against you when you're not in one of those leagues. But now that we're looking eye-to-eye with people, I think we'll come out pretty good."
|Jim Boylen knows being in the Pac-10 is a big deal. (US Presswire)|
He's one of the real winners of Expansionpalooza 2010.
Rather than having to win for years at places such as Pepperdine and Saint Louis (like Washington's Lorenzo Romar), Xavier (like Arizona's Sean Miller), Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh (like UCLA's Ben Howland), Creighton (like Oregon's Dana Altman) or Portland State (like Washington State's Ken Bone), Boylen has reached the Pac-10 thanks to commissioner Larry Scott's willingness to expand the league, and Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds' hesitancy to leave the Big 12. Those decisions led to the Pac-10 welcoming Colorado and Utah instead of Colorado and five other Big 12 schools, which will by extension lead to Boylen joining Stanford's Johnny Dawkins on the list of men whose first head-coaching jobs will have them coaching a Pac-10 institution.
That's still a year away, of course.
But the effect of the move is immediate.
"There's just a vibe through the town," Boylen said. "This is something that people have hoped for because this is a school that's been trying to bust the BCS, and fans have been trying to fight the BCS. But that's all gone now."
Where Boylen will benefit most from the move to the Pac-10 is in the aforementioned recruiting circles, and that's got nothing to do with the quality of basketball played in the Mountain West. Lon Kruger (UNLV), Steve Fisher (San Diego State), Dave Rose (BYU) and Steve Alford (New Mexico) have helped turn the MWC into a fantastic league, proof being how it sent four schools to the 2010 NCAA tournament. But let me ask a serious question: Did you know BYU's Jimmer Fredette was that creative until you saw him put 37 on Florida in the first round of the NCAA tournament?
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My guess is you probably didn't.
In fact, one friend -- a friend who is a sports writer -- told me he had no idea Fredette was "a white player" until he saw him in the NCAA tournament, and Fredette is a guy who averaged 22 points for a team ranked much of the season. That seemed crazy to me. But, on the other hand, where was my friend supposed to see Fredette play? If you're not on CBS, ESPN or a Fox affiliate, you might as well not be on at all. That's precisely what BCS coaches tell prospects who are considering non-BCS schools. And because most prospects are enamored with television, it's typically an effective recruiting tool.
Sign with us, you'll be on TV more.
Sign with us, you'll play against powers like UCLA and Arizona.
Sign with us, because we're in a big boy league doing big boy stuff.
"It's no disrespect to the Mountain West, but we all know this is a different level," Boylen said. "It's a different level of exposure, different level of national identity. It's just a different deal."
And now Boylen is a part of that deal.
Sure, the games might be more difficult for him.
But every other aspect of his job just got a whole lot easier.