Talk hoops all year long in Luke Winn's blog, a journal of commentary, news and reader-driven discussions about the college game.
8/07/2006 04:36:00 PM
Thanks, But I'll Pass
Nevada's Mark Fox passed on Nebraska, but how many more seasons will he remain in Reno?
The first real news out of the Nebraska coaching search dropped this weekend: Nevada coach Mark Fox said -- and said very publicly, with a statement on his school's Web site -- that he was not interested in the Huskers' job.
To that I say, smart move.
In the short term, it's not a monetarily sound decision for Fox: He makes $400,000 a year, base salary, in Reno. How much would Huskers AD Steve Pederson have anted up for a quality mid-major coach? Maybe $750,000 per year? A cool mil, even? Fox left money on the table by saying no. And he'll likely be better off for it.
Fox, as a head coach, has decent stock: He may not have been the architect for Nevada's rise, but he has maintained its success after taking over for Trent Johnson (who's now at Stanford) in 2004, winning the WAC regular-season title and making an NCAA tournament trip in each of his two seasons. Those are the kind of credentials that could get you a gig like Nebraska, where the Huskers missed out on the dance during every year of Barry Collier's recently-ended tenure.
But Fox is also sitting on another WAC title team in Reno. He received a rare gift in the offseason, in that his junior star, forward Nick Fazekas, pulled put of the NBA Draft. Five of the Wolf Pack's top six scorers will be back. Another NCAA tourney trip -- plus perhaps a run into the Sweet 16 -- and Fox's stock could be at the point where he'll be in line for better destinations than Lincoln, where it will be difficult to produce a consistent winner.
The next jump Fox makes, from mid-major to major, will be the crucial move of his career. To have hopped to Nebraska, a state devoid of home-grown, Big 12-caliber basketball talent -- it produced just one four-star recruit in the past four years, Lincoln's Matt Hill, who bolted for Texas -- could have been disastrous. By leaving in August, Fox would have been set back a year in recruiting, and by 2010, who knows -- he could have found himself in a similar position to Collier, on shaky job footing after a series of NIT berths, scouting out potential parachute landings back into mid-majordom. Basically, back at square one, with a black mark on his coaching resume.
So Fox opted to wait, and pile up more victories in Reno, while it appears that Nebraska will turn to UTEP's Doc Sadler instead. Next year, or the year after, I think Fox will pounce on a gig with more winning potential than Nebraska. Will it be a place like Oregon? Or Minnesota? Or will something suitable not come available? Therein lies the gamble -- but it's a gamble I'd be willing to take.
Fox is a great coach and I hope he sticks around for a few more seasons. The move to Oregon is a possibility though because Ernie Kent has that program on a downhill slide. They have quality talent (Malik Harriston) but havent put it together.
What's your beef with the Nebraska program? Did their football team beat yours by 50 or something? They have as many players in the NBA now (4) as any other Big 12 team. It is a program on the rise in a good conference. Sadler should finally get it over the hump.
I agree that if I were Fox I would have said no too. The Nebraska b-ball job is dangerous for a number of reasons including the fact that Big Red football is king and basketball will never compete in terms of interest, etc. (especially since the Huskers seem to be on the way up again). Also, Creighton is the toast of Omaha and while many people in our state's largest city love the Huskers in football, Creighton is the team in basketball. That said, good luck to Coach Sadler. I hope he proves Winn wrong.