The silence is deafening.
That’s the only way to describe Georgia’s search for a new men’s basketball coach. Suddenly it has all gone quiet. That, as you all surely know, means things are getting done.
The seasons of at least two coaches thought to be at the top of the Bulldogs’ wish list ended over the weekend. That means UGA’s search will likely kick into high gear between now and NCAA Final Four festivities in Detroit this coming weekend. Oklahoma’s Jeff Capel and Missouri’s Mike Anderson saw their teams go down in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA tournament Sunday and Saturday, respectively. That means they are now available for Georgia to approach about its coaching vacancy.
UGA athletics director Damon Evans, who’s usually pretty good about getting back to me, hasn’t returned my messages in three days, four if I don’t hear back from him on Monday. Earlier he told me the Bulldogs would not attempt to contact a candidate who was still active in postseason play. None of the four teams remaining — Villanova, North Carolina, UConn or Michigan State — are coached by a person believed to be targeted in Georgia’s search.
Indications are that Capel and Anderson are 1A and 1B on Georgia’s list. As far as I can tell, there was no evidence Sunday that the Bulldogs had received permission to speak to either of them. Asking the school for permission to interview a coach is standard protocol in the business.
I did manage to get Missouri’s chancellor on the phone. “I’ve heard nothing on that and I believe I would,” said Brady Deaton, Mizzou’s top Tiger, said when asked if Georgia had contacted the school about Anderson. “We just got back home and we’re excited about the progress Coach Anderson has made with the program and we’re looking forward to building on that.”
Anderson appears attainable for Georgia from a financial standpoint. According to published reports, Anderson has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $850,000 annually. Georgia would most likely offer much more than that — and Missouri knows it. Word is the Tigers already have offered him $1.3 million.
“Certainly discussions are in progress with Coach Anderson [on a pay raise and contract extension],” Mr. Deaton told me. “We feel good about his commitment to the University of Missouri and are very proud of what he has accomplished.”
In the meantime, phone calls to several Oklahoma administrators Sunday went unreturned. However, Capel — who reportedly has also been targeted by Virginia — did nothing to discourage speculation that he might consider a move after his team got bounced on Sunday.
“My name has been mentioned for jobs every year I’ve been a coach and I’m not planning on getting into it [with the media],” Capel told reporters outside the locker room after Oklahoma’s loss to North Carolina. “I can’t tell people what to write about me.”
Meanwhile, Alabama introduced Anthony Grant as its new coach late Sunday afternoon. The fact that Georgia didn’t budge and let Grant walk speaks volumes about its search. Clearly Evans had his sights set on some other candidates. But that could prove a risky proposition. I talked to a buddy who covers Bama on Sunday and he said Grant was very impressive in his debut before Crimson Tide fans. He talked about how a polished and motivational speaker Grant was. “Blew the doors off the place,” my friend said.
That sets up what will surely be an endless comparison between Grant and whomever the Bulldogs get, especially if it’s Anderson. A great faction of Bama folks wanted the Birmingham native, who coached at UAB before moving to Missouri.
Supposedly the Crimson Tide is going to pay Grant about $1.8 million dollars. That hasn’t been completely verified yet and I’m sort of surprised if that’s true. The only reports I’ve seen are that he made $700,000 at VCU and was going to clear $850,000 with bonuses from this past season. If it is true that gives you an idea of what Georgia is going to have to pay to get its man. Capel makes in the $1.1 million range from what I’ve seen.
But Damon and Dr. Adams knew what they were in for when they laid out the criteria. Stay tuned!
Now for some links:
I don’t buy this for a second but at least one guy thinks Georgia is nuts if it doesn’t go after ousted Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie. . . .
Speaking of Kentucky, it looks like the Wildcats may be closing in on Memphis coach John Calipari. . . .
The Diamond Dogs roll on after a sweep of Tennessee in Knoxville. Intriguing, too, is the fact that the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets are rolling as well. Their scheduled meeting in Atlanta was rained out this past week and no word yet on whether they’ll try to make that up. At the very least the two powers will collide on April 14 in Athens. In the meantime, Clemson’s in town on Tuesday, Georgia’s there on Wednesday and LSU comes in for a set this weekend. . . .
Hope you saw Tim Tucker’s Sunday piece on Georgia’s hopes for a defensive revival. Good work as always from Tim. . . .
Found this interesting: Looks like Georgia coach Mark Richt and son Jon were checking out Valdosta State this weekend. Jon, Richt’s oldest son, has left Clemson and is looking for a smaller school to ply his quarterbacking skills. . . .
In case you missed it, Herschel Walker survived another week on Celebrity Apprentice. . . .
This has nothing to do with Georgia but I just thought this video of a professional ping-pong players’ victory dance was hilarious. . . .