At least Thad Matta is honest. When Matta walks into a recruit's home, he makes an attempt to sell Xavier and not used cars.
"Come to Xavier for the school," he'll say. Not for Thad Matta.
Matta might not be the No. 1 candidate for the open Illinois job. But he's in the photo. There is a good chance the Illini will name a new coach in the next week.
If it's Matta, he'll have had three head coaching jobs in four years. And he's just 35.
Is there anything wrong with that?
Only if you're disingenuous. Only if you invade Mr. Blue Chip's living room and tell him you're not going anywhere anytime soon, certainly not as long as Mr. Blue Chip's on campus. When former Illinois coach Bill Self signed a five-year contract extension in December, he announced he was with the Illini "for the long haul."
Coaches hardly selfless
Recruits slept better.
At least until a week ago, when Self left for Kansas. "Long haul" apparently is subject to varying definitions.
Then there's Roy Williams. Pious, self-righteous Roy was Self's predecessor at KU. He "loved" his players. Or maybe he just loved his seniors, Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison. When they left, Williams took his love to North Carolina.
Not long ago, Thad Matta met with Shaun Pruitt, a recruit from Illinois. Pruitt's parents asked Matta if the coach planned to stay at Xavier. Matta was honestly vague.
"I understand you're choosing a coach," he said. "But you also need to choose a university."
Fair enough. A kid who hears that has no gripe when the coach takes another job.
It's fashionable to bleed for big-time college jocks. They don't get paid. They can't leave one school to play for another without sitting out a year. They're being used, don't you know.
But if you're signing with Illinois and Bill (I'm In It For My-) Self, you know you're rolling the dice.
Also: Doesn't loyalty cut both ways? When a prime-time recruit asks a coach, "Are you going to be there the next four years?" shouldn't the coach have a right to ask, "Are you?"
Doellman's right on
"It's almost like choosing an employer," said Dan Doellman, father of Justin Doellman, a Xavier signee from Ryle High.
"It's not just about playing ball. You don't just look at the boss, you look at the institution."
The school isn't going anywhere. The school doesn't talk with forked tongue. The school doesn't talk at all. (Can you imagine what UNLV would say if it could talk?)
I once had a sports editor in Dallas who hired me, then left for a New York newspaper less than a year later. I followed him there, only to see him leave again, for Sports Illustrated. I didn't begrudge him. I congratulated him.
Is there a difference between that and a college kid who loses his coach? Sure. The college kid doesn't pack up a family and a dog when he transfers.
"A coach's responsibility to a player is to treat him right and try to make him a better person and player," Matta said. It's not to insulate the player from real-world changes.
So maybe the lesson is, whenever a college basketball coach starts talking about love and long hauls, your best move is for the door.
Honesty is the only responsibility a coach has to a player.
BENGALS DRAFT ( Complete draft coverage )
Fourth pick Weathersby recovering from gunshot
Bengals all offense on draft's Day 1
Guard Steinbach slips out of first round
Size, speed make WR Washington a threat
Palmer glad fuss is over
Rating the draft: Winners & losers
Draft picks by team | By number
Defensive line dominates first round
Surprise: Browns take center
Ravens, Steelers trade up to fill needs
Three UC players drafted
Five Buckeyes selected
Jets take Colerain grad Askew
Jags get Leftwich; big questions to come
Newman goes to Cowboys
Jets trade up for UK's Robertson
Bad news, good news for Simms
Reds 7, Padres 5
Sunday Box, Runs
Phillies' Millwood no-hits Giants
Reds 7, Padres 6
Photo gallery |
Kearns shows power, promise and poise
Reds E-Mail: Boone genius or time to go?
Solid start relieves Graves
Reds Notebook: Wily Mo gets a start
Reds' Minor League Notebook
Toledo 4, Louisville 0
NL: Dodgers finally get big hit
AL: Angels get lift from Shields
Who's Hot & Who's Not
Fan's guide to the Kentucky Derby
Other Derby Week Events
Where else to go in Louisville
Derby Notebook: New owners for Domestic Dispute
FLYING PIG MARATHON
Flying Pig gets new start
DAUGHERTY: Let's hope XU reason kids come
What's the motta with Matta?
UC defense bares teeth
Three UC players picked in NFL draft
Lesser-known Buckeyes star in spring game
UK unveils two-headed QB
NBA: Jazz not ready to crown Kings
NHL: Ducks take 2-0 lead on Stars
Cyclones go down 3-0 in series
Vogelgesang cracks PBA top 60
College Update: For NKU, winning starts with pitching
Enquirer Power Rankings
Sports on TV-Radio
HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Mayo billed as next LeBron
Saturday's High School Results
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