Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NEWARK –– It’s never a good idea to ask a coach after an NCAA Tournament loss if he plans on leaving for another job.
It’s certainly never a good idea to ask him publicly. You know, in a room full of reporters. When he’s in front of a microphone.
At least not if you want a shred of truth in the answer.
Why, just last week an intrepid reporter ask then-Missouri coach Mike Anderson after his team lost to Cincinnati in the first round if he wanted to address rumors linking him to the Arkansas job.
“I’m excited about what’s taking place at Missouri and I plan on being at Missouri,” Anderson told reporters at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. “That’s the bottom line.”
Six days later, of course, Anderson was introduced as the new coach at Arkansas.
And so, it probably wasn’t prudent to raise the subject with Marquette coach Buzz Williams after his team was shellacked by North Carolina, 81-63, in an East Regional semifinal here at The Prudential Center.
Still, a source close to Williams said immediately after the loss that he doubted Williams would leave for Oklahoma, a job to which he’s been linked.
“I don’t think so,” the source said.
The source did say that if Rick Barnes, a Hickory, N.C. native, were to leave Texas for N.C. State, things could change dramatically and Williams would be interested in coaching the Longhorns.
“If Rick Barnes leaves, that’s another story,” the source said.
The folksy Williams grew up in Van Alstyne, Texas and graduated from Oklahoma City University.
Barnes turned down the N.C. State situation in 2006, but has been floated as a potential candidate there now. The source said the N.C. State job could pay what the top college coaches make: at least $2-3 million annually. Arizona’s Sean Miller, whose team thrashed defending champion Duke Friday night in a West Regional semifinal, has also been linked to the job.
As far as Williams, Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler reported that, contrary to reports, Williams, 38, doesn’t have a $3.8 million buyout clause in his contract.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Williams has a six-year rollover contract that pays him about $1.5 million annually.
The source confirmed that Williams’ buyout was in the seven-figure range, but added that it “goes down in two weeks.”
Coming off a Sweet 16 appearance, Williams could conceivably command in the $2-2.5 million range to clean up the mess left behind by former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel.
The question is whether Williams wants to return to his roots badly enough to leave a gritty Marquette team that loses only two key players in Jimmy Butler and Joseph Fulce.
His players want him back.
“I hope Coach Buzz comes back,” sophomore point guard Junior Cadougan said in the losing locker room. “He really taught me a lot. He’s a wonderful person. He just wants you to do right and work hard and that’s what he teaches you.”
Marquette also has a three-man recruiting class including shooting guard Todd Mayo of Notre Dame Prep.
“We’re just coming in with the mindset that we want to be better than we were this year and we’ve gotta work hard,” Cadougan said.
Complicating matters at Marquette is the issue of whether assistant Aki Collins could leave for the Fairfield job.
Collins is a former Fairfield assistant under new Providence coach Ed Cooley.
“It’s definitely my goal to become a head coach,” Collins told SNY.tv Friday. “The chips will fall where they may. If it’s this year that I get a job, great. If not, we’ll be back here next year and we’ll have a really good team next year at Marquette. And at some point in time, I believe I’ll be a head coach.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.