Saturday, April 9, 2011

Coach search drama

UPDATED - Sunday 9:15 AM
Reported finalized group, Rice, Theus, Dunlap, Kent?
- This was the news as of Wednesday, April 6.
- The decision is reportedly going to be made Sunday, and announcement Monday
- Drama galore-

Drama #1 - The list of four
- noted that the public list of finalists was an unusual step in locating and naming a replacement for the head coach.
- They made the valid point, that in doing so the fans would faction off into camps of support for one coach or another, causing potential discontent when the eventual coach is named.
- With the exception of a few people who are adamantly for or against the true finalists, Rice and Theus, the danger supposed by releasing the public list may be less of an issue that feared - most people believe either Dave Rice or Reggie Theus will do a good job in the position.
- Obviously, this is speculation on the future. No matter which person gets the job, because the list was public people will feel more grounded in throwing out a ''grass is greener" argument. It goes, the other guy would have done a better job recruiting, fundraising, coaching games, or would have gone deeper in the tournament than the man they selected.
- Its clear that this kind of talk would undermine the support of the coach by the fans, players, and administration, more rapidly than if there had not been a list.
Verdict: The list of four public names was a bad idea.

Drama #2: Is Larry Brown in the mix or not?
- Multiple major media outlets reported Saturday that Larry Brown, former coach of the Charlotte Bobcats and the only coach to win national championships in the NBA and NCAA is interested in the UNLV head coach job, and has contacted AD Jim Livengood about it. ESPN Sports Illustrated
- Coach Brown is 70 years old, and has not coached in college since 1988 (with Kansas).
- UNLV released the aforementioned list of four finalists this past Wednesday, sans Brown.
- It is not entirely clear when Brown contacted UNLV, could have been a week ago right after Kruger left (as Ryan Greene has tweeted) or could be as recent as the articles (perhaps yesterday), hard to say. The articles that name Brown as being interested do not lay out a timeline.
- If Larry Brown was an actual possibility and would Coach UNLV for the maximum we would pay him (assumed slightly over $1mil a season), has the athletic director's brilliant idea to publicize the 'list of four' doomed Larry Brown's chances?
- Larry Brown obviously has no ties to UNLV, or Las Vegas. The general perception is the candidates who are in biggest contention are the UNLV almums, Rice and Theus.
- Most of the reason UNLV is likely to hire one of the alumni candidates is 1) a link to past UNLV success be it the final four run with Theus, or Championship with Rice, they both were coached by Tark; 2) they both are assumed to feel, or are on record of saying that coaching at UNLV is their dream job; 3) they are both likely to accept less money over the long-haul due to reason #2 and lack of history of being paid highly to coach (except for Theus's season with Sacramento).
- If you discount the alumni factor, potentially the best candidates are Kent and Dunlap based upon experience and potential.
- BUT, if you discount the alumni factor and throw-out the line in the sand drawn by the list of four, Larry Brown trumps all candidates. He's proven himself to be one of the most successful coaches on any stage, is known for rebuilding teams and making them at-least competitive. Brown is likely to draw the top prep-prospects, probably as well as anyone.
- The downside to Brown is his longevity is limited, he's 70, known from moving around a lot, and nobody has any idea of how much longer he wants to coach. Also, freshman may not be super interested in playing for him, he's notorious for not playing rookies. Maximum time from Brown, likely 4 years (that's being generous).
- UPDATE: Smatresk says he has not heard any talk of Brown, either bad reporting from ESPN / SI or he's out of the loop. LVRJ
Verdict: The list decision is still bad, but now for another reason - we're in a corner when it comes to coaches we can pick from. Now, if the AD says he had to reevaluate when the available coaches pool increased +1, so be it. There is a bright side to having a Larry Brown coach your team -- a lot more media focus, potentially higher caliber recruits from the national pool, and a validation that UNLV is one of the premier places to play and coach in all of college basketball. For those reason, I would say having coach Brown at the helm for a few years and then grab Rice or Theus would be a good idea. The downside obviously is whose to say either will be available later. It would be a good idea for UNLV to take a serious look at and interview Larry Brown, a hall-of-fame coach and champion.

Drama #3: Athletic Director vs. University President

- This might all be a lot of talk in a vacuum, but word on the net is that its possible that Livengood has had his mind made up from minute one, and his choice was Dave Rice. Now, the same word is that UNLV President Neil Smatresk may be infatuated with the choice of Reggie Theus. This is an obvious rift and who will win out will be interesting (assuming those facts are true). LVRJ Sports Illustrated
- The university president is the athletic director's boss, and assuming there is a difference in opinion between the two of them, the president could pull rank and force his hand.
- The people involved in the coaching search started out only as Livengood, but then has snowballed to Smatresk and even the University Regents sitting in on some of the coach candidate interviews.
- The people who have had the most to say about the coaching search, have the least power to do anything about it - the fans and the media.
- It is uncertain to what extent the people who really matter have been involved or consulted in the process, those people include the returning UNLV players, staff that didn't defect with Kruger, and recruits who have already given commitments. These are the people who are actually involved in the 'winning of games'. Other people who are very important, Rebel Athletic Fund donors.
Verdict: If the AD and Prez are at odds with each other on this, the winner is setting himself up as either the scapegoat if his pick fails to achieve anticipated success, or to gain more power if the pick meets or exceeds expectations - this feels kind of like The Apprentice.

Drama #4: Listing non-candidates as candidates
Why were Jim Dunlap and Ernie Kent named as candidates when they had no real shot?
- Dunlap is seen as someone who is worthy of a head coaching position, especially after recent success at Arizona and St. Johns.
- Kent is well past his prime, previous head coach of Oregon - was coach of the team that beat us in the Sweet 16 a few years back.
- The people conducting the coaching search have basically said they want someone with ties to UNLV, not another carpetbagger like Kruger.
- Kent and Dunlap meet neither of the criteria.
Verdict: Likely AD Livengood owes these guys a favor and wanted to help raise their profile by putting them in the mix. This further explains why the decision to publicize the list of four. Dunlap and Kent will not be offered the job unless Rice and Theus flat out turn it down, which isn't going to happen. They say any publicity is good publicity -- well consider this favor repaid.

Drama #5: Alleged phony sources and lies to boost ratings
- As reported by Michael Campanella at, he claims that a certain Las Vegas radio shock-jock has been spreading false information about the Reggie Theus interview.
- This shock-jock has been saying that Reggie's interview went poorly, that he came in with a egotistical attitude (hard to believe given who he's currently assistant coaching for)
- Campanella personally interviewed Danny Tarkanian and got a much more different version, that the interview was great.
- The shock-jock names three unidentified sources which he will not name
Verdict: If a media personality is merely speculating and its obvious, that's one thing; but it sounds like he is portraying this as fact. Obviously, if he doesn't effect the process then he's only hurting his own reputation. 

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