All quiet at USF ... too quiet
Not much news in the last 48 hours on USF's men's basketball coaching search, but I wouldn't take that to mean that Doug Woolard isn't busy on the road this weekend. Many of the biggest names speculated as USF candidates are coaching in the NCAA Tournament, so a regional site gives Woolard a chance to talk to multiple candidates in a single location.
This whole process is a battle between Woolard's desire to keep things as secretive as possible and a reporter's challenge to figure out where he is and who he's talking to. You saw a one-line, sourced Sportsline.com nugget the other day that showed George Washington's Karl Hobbs was interested in USF, and while that might be true -- I remember a conversation with Woolard about Hobbs last spring -- it also might be something floated by an agent or headhunter trying to throw chum on the water.
I've gotten tips -- tips I ultimately couldn't confirm -- since Thursday that had Woolard at two different regional sites in the same day, linked with potential candidates. One is a name that hasn't been floated (and I count more than 20 names already in print) and he matches the general profile for the kind of hire I think Woolard will make, but I'm going to hold off on floating the name here just yet so as not to put everybody on this guy's trail.
Remember that the names of candidates publicly interested in the job are all former coaches who don't have jobs in coaching right now. Coaches under contract at other schools aren't going to put their names out unless they know the interest is reciprocated. I've talked to at least two other candidates who asked not to be mentioned publicly, but have definite interest -- one said he didn't want to "fall into a cesspool of names" as is often the case with an opening like this.
I found a story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1999, detailing the process of Woolard's coaching search that brought Lorenzo Romar to Saint Louis. Woolard went on the road to meet with 15 candidates before bringing a handful of finalists in for interviews on campus. That makes the next two weekends prime opportunity for those initial conversations -- while Woolard's car was parked in its spot at USF's athletic facility Friday, that could also simply mean his assistant has dropped him off at the airport. Thoughts? Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.