Sunday, April 3, 2011
Keeping Stevens a priority for Butler AD
By Dana O'Neil
HOUSTON -- Standing inside the locker room door minutes after Butler beat Virginia Commonwealth to advance to its second improbable national championship game in a row, athletic director Barry Collier was asked the inevitable buzzkill question:
What will you do to keep Brad Stevens?
"Everything we can," Collier said enthusiastically.
Of course, Collier thought he did that last year, when he inked Stevens to a 10-year contract extension, the sports equivalent of a lifetime deal.
But that was when Stevens was merely a Beatle.
Brad Stevens has led Butler to the national championship game in consecutive seasons.
Now he is Elvis, the biggest thing in college basketball.
More than one person has labeled him the brightest mind in the game. Even his Monday night opponent took time to heap praise on Stevens: "If he’s the prototype of what's ahead in college coaching, we're in great shape. We're in really good shape coaching-wise," Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun said.
So what can Collier do now? Name a court after a 34-year-old coach? Offer Stevens' adorable toddlers a free education to the college of their choice?
In some situations, all of that would be in play, but Stevens is unlike most anyone in his profession. He is not a perpetual shopper, looking and dreaming of the next step on his coaching trail.
"You hear people say all the time, 'The grass is greener somewhere else,'" Stevens said. "Well, I think the grass is very green at Butler. Certainly there can be green grass at other places. You understand that. You see people go through it. You see sometimes it works out for people and sometimes it doesn't. But like I've said many times, we're happy."
Collier will count on that contentedness, plus an upcoming $25 million renovation to Hinkle Fieldhouse, a program that presumably could have its pick of the type of players it wants to recruit and a name-branding usually reserved for the big boys of college sports.
And if all else fails, he pointed out one other distinction that he hopes will keep Butler in the front of the pack to keep Stevens on as its head coach.
"It's going to take a school capable of going to back-to-back-to-back national championship games to take him away," Collier said.