Monday, July 31, 2006

"Jeff Christian, Please Report to the Husker Basketball Bench"

Husker Hoops Central is reporting that Barry Collier has officially accepted the Butler athletic director's job, ending the Collier era at Nebraska. Something that, in hindsight, should have been done 4 months ago. Why? The Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy made it clear in an interview on KXSP-590 AM this afternoon.

At the end of the season, Steve Pederson decided to keep Barry Collier - a decision that didn't make sense in March and still doesn't make sense in July. Why didn't it make sense? Simple... a coach with only 2 years left on his contract should either be terminated or get a contract extension. Steve Pederson's decision to retain Collier without revising his contract was essentially a death sentence for Collier ... and potentially a death sentence for Husker basketball. With all the rumors that Collier was going to be fired and with only 2 more seasons on his contract, Collier had no credibility with any recruits. Any recruit would recognize that Collier only had a slim chance of being around for a recruit's first season, and no chance after that. So why would any basketball recruit consider Nebraska?

Essentially, Steve Pederson elected to put Nebraska basketball on a hunger strike. Why? I still go back to money. Pederson is still trying to pay for a $50 million project to expand the Husker football facilities, and needs to devote every penny he has to pay for this project.

Collier and his staff saw the handwriting on the wall. Scott Spinelli headed south to Wichita. Tim Waller left for a D-2 head coaching job. Collier pursued the Ball State job and now got the Butler AD job. They knew it was only a matter of time, and got out of Lincoln on their own terms. Good for them, and now good for Nebraska, because now instead of a drug out firing, Nebraska has a chance to hire a coach and let him start recruiting.

Unfortunately, Steve Pederson is the man that will be doing the recruiting. Husker Hoops Central is reporting that Kent State coach Jim Christian is the #1 candidate for the job, and is extremely interested in the job. John Mabry of the Lincoln Journal-Star agrees. Let's hope so. Christian is an up-and-coming coach...20 win seasons in the MAC his first 4 years. And Husker fans tired of trash talking from BlueJay fans should also know that he's 2-0 versus Creighton and Dana Altman, winning 67-58 in Omaha in November 2004 and winning 70-55 at Kent in February 2004 in the BracketBuster. HHC says that this could be done this week.

By the way, it's interesting to hear some people criticize Barry Collier for interviewing for this job, saying that it shows disloyalty to Nebraska. Perhaps. But I don't think it's hurting Nebraska at all; I think it will start the rebuilding process sooner. Good for all. But the criticism also reminds me of the Houston Nutt situation. Remember when that plane was on the tarmac in Arkansas in January 2004??? That there was "no job offer"? Nutt knew that if he got on that plane, he couldn't come back, much like some folks are saying that Barry Collier could never come back to Nebraska now. It may not have been a legally signed contract, or even an enforcable job offer, but for all practical purposes, Nutt knew that the Nebraska job was his for the taking.


AJ said...

Houston Nutt was never offered the job, because I never saw a copy of his job offer.

AJ Pederson

Carl said...

I liked Collier as a upstanding guy with a little fire. I don't think he did a good job coaching B-ball here at UNL. I totally agree that this is best possible outcome. Collier has left without being 'Soliched' and Nebraska has the opportunity to start fresh.

I don't know much about Christian.

One of the Oklahoma papers had the theory that Nebraska would hire Eddie Sutton as an interim head coach while a permanent replacement was sought. This would make sense if Herr Pedersen doesn't have a front runner that he could pull away from their current digs. I'd think the Eddie Sutton route would be a signal that Perdersen is once again lost in the complexity of D1 hiring.