Off the list: New deal for Xavier coach
Xavier's Sean Miller, listed by some as a potential candidate at USF, has been scooped out of any potential coaching pool -- he's re-signed with Xavier, with a new deal that runs through 2016 and will pay him at least $700,000 a year, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Miller was also mentioned as a possibility for the opening at Michigan, and had he left there, Xavier would have been a reasonable option as a rival suitor for Marshall coach Gregg Marshall.
As for the Kentucky job, most reports I'm reading suggest South Alabama's John Pelphrey is just not experienced enough to make the huge leap to one of the biggest coaching jobs in college basketball. A column in the Lexington Herald-Leader said that had Tubby Smith waited three or four more years to leave, Pelphrey and Travis Ford would be ideal candidates. Right now, they have only one NCAA Tournament win each on their resumes.
That column did float four Big East coaches -- Villanova's Jay Wright, Notre Dame's Mike Brey, Marquette's Tom Crean and Georgetown's John Thompson III -- as possible if imperfect matches for Kentucky, which would take away one of USF's best cards to play, being the only opening in the Big East. Plenty of big names will be in the mix, so Kentucky is clearly the alpha job, if you will, the biggest domino that will set the rest of them in motion. How much and how quickly that affects USF's job search remains to be seen.
As a point of clarification, Winthrop's Gregg Marshall took the unusual step Thursday of going on record with a South Carolina newspaper to say he has not been offered USF's head coaching job. I got a call about this Thursday while at USF's football practice, but couldn't do anything with it until Friday's paper. Their story today has him denying taking the job, but the quotes I got Thursday read thusly:
On talk that he had been to USF and been offered a reported $800,000 contract:
"Entirely untrue. I did speak to them (on Tuesday). They're very nice people, it's a very nice program."
For Bulls fans, that's a good sign, a sign of respect to USF that he doesn't want it to appear that he told anyone he'd been offered the position, doesn't want that to jeopardize his position with them. He told The State he had no immediate plans for a visit to Tampa, though it's likely he and Doug Woolard can meet up in the Final Four in Atlanta next week. The sense I get is that Marshall is interested, but also enough of a businessman to be curious what else opens up in the Tubby shuffle.
There was something close to a journalistic game of telephone going on Thursday, where a message gets distorted as it passes from one mouth to another. The Tampa Tribune's headline had Marshall "mulling USF's offer," and the story reported that Winthrop's reported $400,000-a-year offer "would be nearly half of what USF would offer." Nearly half can be interpreted different ways (as "almost" or as "close to"), but local radio updates were extrapolating an $800,000-a-year offer from USF, which South Carolina radio stations then turned into Marshall accepting an $800,000 a year offer, sending talk shows up there into fits. But I'd gotten multiple e-mails and calls relaying that USF had made no offer at all before Marshall came out to say the same thing. I haven't talked to Woolard, but my guess it that he has yet to offer anyone, only to indicate his interest, evaluate and start discussions.
And I have no reason to think John Pelphrey is out of the mix for the USF job, though neither may be the other's top choice. He obviously would prefer the Kentucky job, but beyond his playing there, he can't compare with the top-level coaches being mentioned for the position. And if Marshall hasn't been offered the job, it's hard to imagine that Pelphrey is already out of the picture less than a week after an interviewing. If he truly weren't interested, I don't know why he'd issue a statement Thursday confirming he'd spoken with USF -- that's been out there enough that he didn't need to confirm to have it as leverage with other jobs.
I'd imagine there are people Woolard has talked to that have yet to be reported by any media outlets, locally or back where the candidate works. He may not be done contacting candidates for all we know. We have a couple of names, with little information coming from either end, so we're ultimately where we were two weeks ago when the job came open: speculating, and trying to eliminate potential candidates from the list.