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8/09/2006 01:20:00 AM
The Doc Is In
It's not without risk, but UTEP's Doc Sadler couldn't pass up the Nebraska job.
The marriage of Doc Sadler and Nebraska, which was made official on Tuesday, is a union based on equal risk: The Huskers are willing to put their faith in a promising, albeit nationally obscure coach from UTEP whose team was in the NIT in March; and Sadler is willing to accept a major-conference gig in a setting where NCAA tourney success has been difficult to achieve.
While Nevada's Mark Fox was smart to turn down Nebraska's advances (see Monday's blog post), there was no way Sadler could've passed up this job. Fox would have been leaving behind a likely WAC champ in Reno, while Sadler was looking at another NCAA bubble team, at best, in El Paso. The Miners' top four scorers were gone after a 21-10 season, and although a whopping seven transfers were coming in, UTEP was no lock to reach the dance.
The bottom line: A mid-major coach becomes much less attractive to major-conference ADs when he's coming off two straight NIT trips, and Sadler could have been in that position next spring. He upgraded before his stock had a chance to drop -- and got a nice six-year deal, rather than the standard five, from the Huskers' Steve Pederson. If someone offers you a package worth $4.2 million (over six years, before incentives) to leave a place like El Paso, you take it.
Expect Sadler to attempt to fill the void left by Kelvin Sampson in the Big 12 -- that of the coach who contends with a juco-stocked roster. The Doc used his juco hookups to lure six of those seven incoming transfers on UTEP's 2006-07 roster, and he'll likely follow the same route at Nebraska. Can he, however, find someone (soon) to replace 6-foot-11 star center Aleks Maric, who told the Lincoln Journal-Star on Monday that he wouldn't be returning for his junior season? That's hardly the kind of news one wants to hear in Week 1 on the job.
Perhaps, if Sadler wants to make an early recruiting splash, he'll find a way to lure Maric back into town.
I hope Doc enjoys getting pounded by Kansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Colorado, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Missouri and Iowa St. every year. Nebraska will be lucky to see the NIT much less the Dance.
I agree that the money was too good to pass up but your comment about "leaving a place like El Paso", shows your lack of knowledge of college basketball (a Hall of Fame coach in Don Haskins, a national championship team in 1966, a major Hollywood movie about the championship team in Glory Road and probably some of the best basketball fans in the country). You probably think El Paso doesn't have paved roads either!
Sadler is coming to a basketball graveyard in Lincoln. It can only get better under his watch. If he has to go the Juco route, so be it, Cornhusker fans are starving for some excitement after the football and before the baseball season starts.The last six years under head mortician Barry Collier has been horrible to say the least.
He was right to leave a place like El Paso. I know they might have won a championship 40 years, but at some point the Miners have to let go of that. El Paso as a city sucks, and Doc should have left for half the amount.
Hey Anonymous - The only good reason to leave was the money. Yes UTEP won a title 40 years ago but that was a significant victory for other reasons than just the trophy (see Glory Road). Famous coaches and athletes have commented on how important that championship team was to their own career and successes(see Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Pat Riley, Allen Iverson, etc.). Every city has it's good and bad points. Remember, he's leaving El Paso for Lincoln, not Maui. You must be a rival CUSA fan, a rival WAC fan from a few years past or from New Mexico.