A long time ago, NY Post Columnist Peter Vescey was the premier NBA columnist in the country. He was a featured guest on every NBA halftime show and prominently featured at the NBA Draft. He allegedly had such excellent contacts that he was able to dish out trade rumors while discussions were in their infancy and long before they actually happened. And then Mark Cuban bought the Mavericks. Cuban, not only denied the rumors, but from time to time, set out to prove Vescey simply made them up. Cuban once commented that Peter Vescey was the place he could read about things he didn’t know he did or said. After the feud hit its peak, Vescey stopped getting invites on national sports shows.
One of my favorite moments was when Vescey sourced a rumor to "Uninformed conjecture from an anonymous source." Think about that. Who and what doesn't qualify under that description? The guy in the office next to me could say I think Jimmy Johnson is going to leave Fox to take the SMU job and it qualifies.
So along those lines, let's recount the rumored names floating around:
Those are the names you see most often to varying degrees around the message boards and on rumor sites. Those first four come up time and time again. There are other names, but most of those are assistants with no head coaching experience at a high level and if we know one thing, it is that Orsini wants experience.
The rumor that comes up most often is the "Fran is a done deal" rumor. It goes like this: Fran (and his agent) know what is going to happen. Fran's agent has been talking to Steve Orsini. Fran's agent has been talking to A&M AD Bill Byrne. The buyout is all but done. The sticking point at A&M is what happens to the buyout money when Fran takes another job, which he really wants to do. Under Fran's current contract, the buyout is offset by any money Fran earns at another position during the life of the contract. Fran wants to work but Fran wants to keep all the A&M money. And that is what is holding up the buyout. Byrne knows this and is trying to leverage Fran's desire to work into a lower buyout figure. Once that is finally settled, Fran quits. Shortly thereafter, Fran is hired by SMU.
Now, this is a rumor. A couple of things support the rumor and a couple of things cause it to fall apart. Fran is done and we all know it. I think we can assume Fran wants to work again as a HC, which he has been doing for nigh thirty years. Fran's buyout clause in his contract does say any money Fran earns at another position during the life of the contract is subtracted from the buyout.
However, rumors are circulating that Fran has been seen at SMU. The problem with that rumor is that the most often mentioned date is Sunday, November 4th. Obviously, this is untrue because SMU had a game that day in Houston and Orsini was there; we know that because he interviewed.
Another reason to discount this rumor is that Bill Byrne has never terminated a coach before the end of the season, just as he has said repeatedly. He did not fire men's basketball coach Melvin Watkins or baseball coach Mark Johnson until the seasons were over. And in both of those cases, the seasons were decided long before they were concluded, which isn't even true in Fran's case.
Gary Barnett and Terry Bowden
Rumors are out there that both Gary Barnett and Terry Bowden have visited SMU. Barnett has expressed interest and admitted speaking with the search firm but denied any plan to visit Dallas and you really haven't heard a peep out of Bowden lately. The Barnett comments are clearly from a man anxious to get his name out there as a candidate for a head coaching position and the SMU job is the only one open to date. From that I know that Barnett wants to coach, I just don't know if Barnett and SMU want each other.
I am genuinely surprised that we have not heard a word out of Terry Bowden. To me, that is suspicious. Terry Bowden loves the media and loves the spotlight, but aside from game coverage, his yahoo sports column and an occasional public appearance. I can't believe it is that hard to get in touch with Terry Bowden. Unless, of course, he doesn't want to be found.
Mason says he hasn't been contacted by anybody. ""I've made it known I'm a coach," said Mason, who was fired last season after his Gophers blew a 31-point third-quarter lead to Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl. "I hope to coach again."" How can that be? Isn't he obvious? The guy built Kent State, Kansas and Minnesota. Interestingly, all three schools sucked before and sucked after he left. Clearly, Mason's not afraid of a challenge. Why hasn't he been contacted.
Rick Neuheisel and Larry Coker.
These are two names that are mentioned, but never as a real "rumor." I have some interest in the former and zero interest in the latter. Neuheisel is the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens offense is pretty pour these days, though you could question whose fault that is. Coker is doing TV work somewhere. I look at Coker and I think, "Too old, too many issues, rode too many coattails."
Mike Shula and Dirk Koetter
Interesting names of two former BCS head coaches both on the staff of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mike Shula is the QB coach and Dirk Koetter is the offensive coordinator. Both would be interesting but their names have simply been floated.
Paul Johnson nad Navy AD Chet Gladchuk had the quotes of the day. See http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/college/football/bal-navy1107,0,5530540.story
When the names Nebraska and SMU came up, Johnson laughed.
"That's old news," he said. "You need to get to work and come up with something new."
Navy athletic director Chet Gladchuk, who watched practice, said such rumors are begun by "people who are desperate for someone to do something" to help their favorite, struggling teams.
"Paul Johnson has the best job in the country," said Gladchuk. "What fans do is speculate on a position in a desperate program. But the fans are the last to know. Any athletic director who has his act together does not share with any one what he's thinking about his next hire."