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Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Coaches aren't leaving comfortable setups


This spring's coaching carousel is mirroring the NCAA tournament -- it's unpredictable.

But there is a common theme that has been woven through some of the recent hires: Coaches, even assistant coaches, are staying because they are being paid well and enjoy the comfort of their situation, and they aren't going to a new situation unless they feel they must.

Look at what has occurred:

• NC State hired former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried, who was fired from his job two years ago, after athletic director Debbie Yow couldn't get VCU's Shaka Smart or Wichita State's Gregg Marshall. She also made overtures to plenty of high-profile candidates like Texas' Rick Barnes and Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon, who weren't going to move to Raleigh from well-paid, comfortable situations and compete against Duke and North Carolina.

Gottfried will recruit well. He'll schmooze well with the media. He'll coach well. But it's hard not to see that Yow didn't settle since she hadn't contacted Gottfried until Sunday night and then hired him Tuesday morning.

Yow, the ex-AD at Maryland, then lashed out at her former employee, Maryland coach Gary Williams. It was no secret they had a contentious relationship. In response to a reporter's question about whether she was difficult to work with, Yow said: "I don't have a reputation across all men's basketball of being difficult to work with. I have a reputation of not getting along with Gary Williams, who has tried to sabotage the search. Come on, we all know that. OK, so whatever. It's not a reputation. It's Gary Williams out there doing his thing. Whatever."

Well, Williams said Wednesday morning: "I never said anything to anybody. I coach basketball at the University of Maryland. I care about my program. I don't go around talking about other jobs and making sure someone doesn't take a job. I'm an easy target."

Yow's comments at the news conference were disrespectful to Gottfried, essentially saying that had she been free to go get her own coach without Williams sabotaging her, she would have landed someone other than Gottfried. Well, the Williams-Yow relationship had nothing to do with landing Gottfried. Coaches staying put -- Smart, Marshall and Richmond's Chris Mooney (who got a new deal) -- created the opportunity for Gottfried.

• Missouri went with a safe pick with Miami's Frank Haith, who knows the area well but wasn't in the NCAA tournament this season. Georgia Tech did the same thing by hiring Dayton's Brian Gregory, who is a solid coach with a tremendous work ethic. But that's three power six conference schools that hired a coach who was not in the NCAA tournament this season.

• Utah went with a coach from the NBA, Larry Krystkowiak. The ex-New Jersey Nets assistant, who led Montana to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances in 2005 and 2006, is well-known in the region. But he wasn't a traditional hot name hire from the NCAA tournament.

• Oklahoma might have pulled off the best hire in terms of finding a coach who was in the NCAAs, is familiar with the area, and was willing to move: UNLV's Lon Kruger.

• Dayton hired Arizona assistant Archie Miller after Duke assistant Steve Wojciechowski decided against the Flyers. He makes too much money at Duke and has a great situation.

• The only situation where a school couldn't retain its head coach due to money was Princeton. Sydney Johnson went to Fairfield because the Stags pay more. End of story. He isn't going to weep at the podium after a Fairfield game. Johnson loved Princeton and genuinely felt awed by the Tigers beating Harvard in dramatic fashion and then nearly beating Kentucky. But Johnson was shopping around to Towson and Bradley before landing at Fairfield. Fairfield is ready to win the MAAC with Derek Needham back and Boston College transfer Rakim Sanders eligible. Princeton needs to start paying in the $300,000 range to keep someone like Johnson. If Princeton AD Gary Walters decides to stay in the family, he will likely turn to Brian Earl, Mitch Henderson or Mike Brennan. If not, the job is wide open.

• BYU and Dave Rose agreed to a new deal as expected. BYU finally paid a high rate to keep a coach.

• Miami should consider former Boston College coach Al Skinner for its opening. Skinner is the all-time winningest coach in BC history and would be perfect for the personnel, with Reggie Johnson a Craig Smith-like force inside. The Hurricanes probably can't afford to lure Frank Martin out of Kansas State to his hometown. Miami can't slip in the ACC.

• Haith's departure from Miami on the heels of Paul Hewitt's firing at Georgia Tech leaves the ACC with only one African-American coach among the 12 schools -- Florida State's Leonard Hamilton.