It seems like every year, as we head into the "boring phase" of the sports calendar (best known as the point where the Texans' and Rockets' offseason intersects with the Astros' regular season), some stories inevitably pop up to keep things spicy.
Last year, realignment in college football and the Summer of LeBron carried the day. This summer, it remains to be seen what the sports gods will drop onto our plate. So far the appetizers have been mainly basketball coaching searches, and honestly, if you're creative enough, you could use the various searches to create a pretty sweet "Six Degrees of Houston Rockets" drinking game.
There is, of course, the Rockets' own vacant coaching position, an opening for which Daryl Morey has done seemingly everything but put the description on Craigslist. There's the Lakers' vacancy, and on the heels of Phil Jackson's retirement, Rockets
ousted former head coach Rick Adelman has emerged as a leading candidate.
And then there's the Texas A&M men's basketball coaching job.
When Aggies went to sleep last weekend, Mark Turgeon was their head coach. Who knew that the ripple effect from Gary Williams's sudden retirement at Maryland would result in Turgeon heading north and Aggie athletics director Bill Byrne pulling out his "short list." (Every good AD has a short list for potential replacements for their existing coaches in their top drawer, I'm told. Me, I'd never put it in my top drawer. Gets too messy. I'd have it as a "note" on my iPhone. But I digress...)
Names associated with the search have included Buzz Williams and Josh Pastner (neither happening), and will continue to include Northern Iowa's Ben Jacobson, Murray State's Billy Kennedy and Turgeon's top A&M assistant, Scott Spinelli.
Williams and Pastner would have been huge hits, what with Williams having been a Billy Gillespie assistant and Pastner being from Kingwood. The other names will all take some selling to the Aggie fan base (but to be fair, Turgeon -- who I would assume most Aggies would have very much liked to have stayed in College Station -- is requiring some selling for the Terrapin fan base).
The most intriguing name to emerge the last 24 hours was former Rockets head coach (six degrees!) Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy has some history coaching in the college game as an assistant (under Rick Pitino) at Providence and as an assistant at Rutgers.
Van Gundy confirmed in this interview with John Granato and Lance Zierlein on 1560 The Game Friday morning that he had indeed been contacted by Byrne and they had a very general conversation to gauge Van Gundy's interest in the job.
However, late this afternoon, Texags.com's Billy Liucci tweeted that Van Gundy had pulled his name out of the Aggies coaching search. Looking back at his interview with John and Lance, you could kind of see this coming. Van Gundy was very clear on a couple things:
1. Family is a huge consideration in any job decision he makes. His television work affords him a lot more time with his family, and he can do that for the rest of his life if he wants to. (He is truly one of the best in the business.)
2. The college game has changed drastically since he was involved in it two decades ago, even talking about the proliferation of "agents" with high school players, presumably to categorize some of the middlemen whose sole purpose is to "deliver" players to certain coaches.
Again, listen to the interview. It's a quick listen, and a good one. He also gives some bonus insight on the Heat-Bulls series.
Let me be very clear on one thing -- I want Van Gundy to stay in television. I enjoy him, his candor and his innate ability to subtly remind Mark Jackson that Jackson just said something stupid. He would have been a home run for Texas A&M in every way. Unfortunately for the Aggies, it's tough to envision a scenario where a guy who is at the top of his line of work would give up the family-friendly television travel schedule to try and convince high school divas to come to College Station (no disrespect to College Station) when his name is being kicked around as a candidate for every open NBA job.
What Byrne's reaching out to Van Gundy does tell you is he's not even close to finalizing anything yet with any of the candidates. Not yet.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3 p.m. and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
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