Joe Pasternack persevered at New Orleans

Ever take a job only to find that the job description changes after you get there? It's not a whole lot of fun, but that's what Joe Pasternack dealt with at New Orleans.

Pasternack is back in the Pac-10 now after accepting an assistant coaching position at Arizona, and it's great news for him after leaving Cal to become a head coach at his hometown school in New Orleans in 2007.

How hectic did things get at New Orleans? The school decided in 2009 that it would leave the Sun Belt Conference and drop down to Division III due to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and a budget crisis. That left Pasternack unable to offer scholarships, and because the announcement came on the eve of signing day, he had to call a parent in the morning to call off a recruit's signing day news conference.

"It was devastating for us," Pasternack told me in January.

But Pasternack pulled through despite only being left with one scholarship player while competing as a Division I independent this season. The Privateers went 16-6 and achieved Pasternack's goal of finishing with the best record among independents. He did it by getting creative in recruiting players, holding tryout camps, taking a ragtag bunch and turning misfits into winners. A loss of status didn't mean Pasternack had lost his coaching ability, and his return to Division I was only a matter of time even if it wasn't going to be with New Orleans.

That's why New Orleans athletic director Amy Champion mentioned in her statement following Pasternack's resignation that after New Orleans announced it would actually be moving to Division II, she received numerous inquiries about Pasternack's job. He had served New Orleans well, and many assumed he'd be getting a chance elsewhere.

Arizona presents a great opportunity since he knows the league well, and the program is on the upswing again after the arrival of coach Sean Miller.

"I want to thank UNO and my players for the opportunity over the last four years," Pasternack said in a statement. "It is very difficult to leave the city of New Orleans.

"Joining one of the elite basketball programs in the country and working for one of the top coaches in college basketball -- Sean Miller -- was not an opportunity that I could pass up. I wish UNO the best of luck in its transition to Division II."