Coaching Rumor Mill Has Plenty of Grist
There is nothing quite like the lobby of the coaches hotel the Thursday before the Final Four.
The scene at once is part first day of camp, with old friends and adversaries greeting one another like long-lost brothers; part job fair, with the unemployed ready to pounce on any school with a job opening; part airport during the holidays, with coaches sprawled on chairs and couches waiting for their rooms to be ready.
"Those are all the reasons I never stay there," said Maryland Coach Gary Williams, who is staying two blocks away. "You can't get in your room; you can't get an elevator; you're constantly being grabbed by coaches wanting a job or guys just wanting to shake your hand. It wears you out."
More than anything though, the lobby is Rumor Central. If you talk to enough people, you might learn the whereabouts of the Lindbergh baby before nightfall.
"A guy from Kentucky just told me that my name had come up for the job," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said, laughing. "I told him if Kentucky had about $8 million a year, I might consider it." He paused. "You know, actually, that's not true. I wouldn't take that job for $8 million a year."
Tubby Smith, who left Kentucky to take the Minnesota job a week ago, walked by as Boeheim was speaking. Someone asked him if he might take the Kentucky job, because every other coach in the country had been mentioned at some point. "Now that," he said, "would be a good rumor to start."
It might not be the craziest one before the week is over. Everywhere Smith turned, he was being congratulated -- not so much for becoming the coach at Minnesota as for no longer being the coach at Kentucky.
"Look at him," former South Carolina coach Eddie Fogler said. "I don't think I've ever seen him look so happy."
Of course, someone will get Smith's old job. Most people right now believe Kentucky will make a massive play -- the latest rumored number is $4 million a year -- for Florida Coach Billy Donovan once the Final Four is over. Most people expect Florida will match whatever Kentucky offers, and Donovan will turn it down.
Next in line, if you believe the whispers, is Texas Coach Rick Barnes -- except Barnes doesn't want the job either. Nor does Michigan State's Tom Izzo. Marquette's Tom Crean's name is also being tossed around. Memphis's John Calipari might be a fit, but he just signed a new long-term contract.
"So what?" South Carolina Coach Dave Odom said. "If that's who Kentucky wants, they can come up with the money to get him out."