A close friend of his once confided Mark Few's short list of potential dream jobs, in no order: Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Stanford and UCLA. Well, the first two of those were just waved in front of him, and his area code is still 509.
It’s college basketball’s real transition game. It’s the spring ritual of coaches moving on, moving up, moving in on dizzying amounts of cash in new jobs, a wildfire urged on by an Internet spewing out gossip, hearsay and once so often, fact.
Last week, even by the game’s new standards for April breathlessness, it was wacko out there on the job front. John Calipari caught on at Kentucky for $31.65 million over eight years.
At least that was a short, if juicy, melodrama. Arizona conducted a five-month tragicomedy that really got cooking last week.
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The Web site GoAzCats.com reported that “Arizona has its man” and that athletic director Jim Livengood was negotiating with him.
Then a blogger on something called FanHouse.com took that and ran with it, implying that choice was Few.
Meanwhile, ESPN.com wrote that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel was playing in his living room with his daughter when he saw on a TV crawl that he was in negotiations for the Arizona job. Except he hadn’t talked to Arizona.
Coming soon to a search near you: A coach, unaware that he’s coming.
But there’s a thirst for information, especially in basketball-fixated Tucson, so the Arizona Daily Star dutifully kept the populace apprised, tracking the whereabouts of Xavier coach Sean Miller as Livengood dogged him:
Wrote the Star, in part, “The twin-engine airplane … left Detroit at 6:59 a.m. Eastern time, according to flightaware.com. It arrived in Cincinnati at 7:47 a.m., then quickly left for Albuquerque at 8:19 a.m.”
If only the commercial airlines ran so seamlessly.
So the coaching cyclone has mostly come and gone, and as usual, Mark Few is still in the same house, with the same job, in the same town. Everybody seems to think they’re going to pry Few away, but they don’t.
A close friend of his once confided Few’s short list of potential dream jobs, in no order: Oregon, Arizona, Texas, Stanford and UCLA. Well, the first two of those were just waved in front of him, and his area code is still 509.
You don’t know the half of the madness.
Thursday, Oregon athletic director Pat Kilkenny, an old benefactor to Gonzaga, told the Eugene Register-Guard that he writes an annual check to the Zags, earmarked as an enhancement for Few. And that upon Few’s call to thank him the weekend of the Pac-10 tournament, Kilkenny copped to a long conversation with him about where the Ducks were headed as a program.
Since Kilkenny has given $5 million for a new baseball field at Oregon and another $5 million to the basketball arena going in, we can probably assume that check is worth more than your electric bill.
Anyway, Few didn’t give off significant interest, and Kilkenny says that was the end of it. (Maybe if Kilkenny would cut off the checks, Few would give it more thought.)
Similarly, Arizona made a move on Few through channels. He might have wondered what sort of scorched-earth program he would inherit there.
So he’s back, maybe for only another year, maybe forever. At this point, you can’t rule out the latter.
It has to be a selling point for the Zags when they recruit. You go there, you don’t worry about the coach leaving.
“It’s not that he’s at Gonzaga because he doesn’t have other options,” says Gonzaga athletic director Mike Roth. “He’s there because he wants to be there. He’s turned down people that have won a national championship, some power basketball schools.”
Few only addresses the matter in general terms. He likes the fly-fishing nearby. He likes the continuity that brings ex-players around, people he knows. He’s got four kids under 10, including a 3-month-old baby, and that’s a lot of college tuition coming up.
A couple of weeks ago in Memphis, only hours before his team’s NCAA exit against North Carolina, this was the scene: Few in cargo shorts, marshaling five moppets, a couple of them his own, across a downtown square.
He didn’t seem the picture of somebody eager to join the transition game. Today, that’s pretty refreshing.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com