Shrewsberry felt move was necessary

April, 29, 2011
04/29/11
1:48
PM ET
Butler coach Brad Stevens doesn't have to move to a higher-paying gig in a power-six conference.

But one of his assistants felt he did.

The reason is simple: Landing a head-coaching job as an assistant from a smaller league is extremely difficult.

Butler should be exempted from this category, considering the Bulldogs just played in their second consecutive national championship game. Gonzaga has been able to get assistant coaches head-coaching jobs (Bill Grier at San Diego, Leon Rice at Boise State).

But that's not the norm -- which is why Micah Shrewsberry left Butler to join Purdue's staff shortly after the Bulldogs played in the national title game.

"If you look at the jobs that were open this year, I think the guy at Stetson, who was an assistant at Belmont, was the only one who got a head-coaching job from being at a mid-major school," Shrewsberry said. "For me personally, that's my ultimate goal and the options are limited. I didn't think I should stay and wait for Brad to go somewhere and then fight it out with [Butler assistant] Matt Graves. I thought I would try to reach out and go to a bigger, larger conference and get one that way."

Shrewsberry's point is correct. Of all the moves so far this spring, only two head coaches were hired from assistant jobs outside of the top nine conferences (power six plus A-10, C-USA and MWC): Casey Alexander went from Belmont to Stetson and Roman Banks went from Southeastern Louisiana to Southern. Stetson and Southern are also incredibly difficult jobs.

Look at the rest of the assistant-to-head coach hires and Shrewsberry's point is made even stronger:

Temple assistant Matt Langel -- Colgate
Arizona assistant Archie Miller -- Dayton
Syracuse assistant Rob Murphy -- Eastern Michigan
Florida State assistant Andy Enfield -- Florida Gulf Coast
Texas assistant Rodney Terry -- Fresno State
Penn State assistant Lewis Preston -- Kennesaw State
Ole Miss assistant Michael White -- Louisiana Tech
Saint Louis assistant Porter Moser -- Loyola-Chicago
Louisville assistant Steve Masiello -- Manhattan
Purdue assistant Paul Lusk -- Missouri State
Vanderbilt assistant King Rice -- Monmouth
Michigan State assistant Mark Montgomery -- Northern Illinois
Northwestern assistant Mitch Henderson -- Princeton
Memphis assistant Willis Wilson -- Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Pitt assistant Pat Skerry -- Towson
BYU assistant Dave Rice -- UNLV
Florida assistant Larry Shyatt -- Wyoming

There were also a number of promotions of assistants to head coaches at the same school at the lower/mid-levels (IUPUI, IPFW, Kent State, Pepperdine and Tennessee Tech).

"My aspirations weren't to be Brad Stevens' assistant for my life," said the 34-year-old Shrewsberry. "I love Brad and I love working for him. He helped me grow and learn. But he's at a place where he's comfortable. No matter what we did at Butler, I don't know if we would ever be able to break through as assistants, which is kind of funny because you would think that we're pretty qualified to understand what you need to go through to do more with less."

Stevens said he wants his assistants to aspire to be head coaches. And he said he loves that Shrewsberry went to work for a coach and a staff that the Butler staff is close to in Purdue and head coach Matt Painter. Painter and Stevens are good friends and will work together this August during the World University Games in China.

But Stevens isn't necessarily buying that a Butler assistant can't get a head-coaching job, especially in light of what has occurred the past two seasons.

"That's probably strong," said Stevens of the notion that Shrewsberry wouldn't have been able to get a head job if he remained at Butler. "There are only so many head-coaching jobs out there. But I do think our guys would be great at any level and they've dealt with budget constraints in a non-BCS environment. They understand the process. But I don't think we can make a blanket statement that a non-BCS assistant can't get a BCS [head-coaching job]. But the facts are the facts so far."

And for the most part they shift heavily in favor of the BCS assistants getting the head-coaching jobs.

"Our guys should be very attractive for those positions," Stevens said. "Every year [Butler AD] Barry [Collier] comes in and says how can we make this even better. We're always moving in the right direction. And I think this will help Micah on his résumé, a chance to learn a different system and enhance his ability to move to the next spot. I do think that all three of our assistants will be head coaches. But we were also playing until April 4 and that's part of [taking the assistants out of the search process]."

As for Graves, he would be wise to see what Stevens does in the coming years. As a former player and now longtime assistant, he would certainly seem to be the heir apparent. But Grier and Rice waited on Mark Few to leave Gonzaga for a long time before they finally got itchy and decided to leave rather than wait.

Few isn't going anywhere. Neither is Stevens in the short term. And that's why it made sense for Shrewsberry to move.

Will he get a head-coaching opportunity by moving to Purdue? Who knows. But at this point, given the history, it seems worth a try.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com
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