Grab Your Popcorn: The Oregon Coach Search Should Be Entertaining

By now you've undoubtedly read or heard the story about Oregon reportedly readying itself to offer Michigan State coach Tom Izzo the richest contract in college basketball. Presumably a portion of that contract offer will actually be gift cards to a Niketown store based on the fact that it's being so heavily bankrolled by Nike chairman Phil Knight, pictured below. ↵

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↵The notion of Izzo going to Oregon is enough to split your sides with laughter. That isn't meant as an affront to the Ducks either. I'm just not sure you could find many coaches more entrenched at their current station in life than Izzo. Perhaps the North Carolina blue bloods of Krzyzewski and Williams have the same level attachment, but scanning the nation, I struggle to find many people who are more co-branded with a program than Izzo is with Michigan State. In case you haven't heard, he's made six Final Fours in 12 seasons, which is already the most overquoted stat of Final Four Week. ↵

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↵That isn't to say Oregon has been some kind of college hoops dump in the last decade. Prior to this season, there were two Elite Eight runs that came up just short of the Final Four. The school obviously has great resources thanks to Phil Knight and the Swoosh. But don't get any of that confused for being one of the "it" jobs in basketball. This is not like when North Carolina came open a few years ago. This is Notre Dame-grade self-deception, but really minus the same level of tradition or prestige. ↵

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↵I understand the thought process from fans who think this "sends a message" about the search. You want to be the best, so you go after the best. Of course, that message could also be that the people conducting this search are just as unrealistic as the small, private schools we've already lampooned in this same space. ↵

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↵The question becomes whether this alleged attempt at getting Izzo is something that sets the tone for a search that lands a high-level candidate or one that flails aimlessly like the one that continues at St. John's. Saint Mary's Randy Bennett is the all-too-logical choice, and Tubby Smith could be in the mix if the money was right, but will Oregon see clearly enough to pick them before hitting up a dozen other high-profile candidates and making them feel like second-class coaches? ↵

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↵Oregon simply will not pry away one of the coaches from a marquee program with an established tradition. What maniac walks into that situation? Put yourself in the shoes of Izzo, Mark Few, Jamie Dixon or Billy Donovan. Comfortable gig and relatively entrenched at your current post. There's zero danger an ax is coming through that door any time soon. At Oregon, you've got the weight of a new facility and an absurd contract on your back. Oh, and they'd like you to start winning yesterday. How's that appealing? ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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