First of all, thanks to the many readers on here who reported yesterday that Oklahoma State University, a wholly-owned subsidiary of B.P. Capital Management, has made it's pitch to Bill Self of Kansas, and Self told them, "Thanks, but no thanks." Believe it or not, I had a "state of play" article all prepared to post yesterday evening, but events outpaced my schedule and I am forced to rewrite it. Billionaires don't mess around, it seems -- that's probably why they are billionaires.
Reading between the lines of this Lawrence Journal-World article, it looks to me like a couple of things happened. The first is that Mike Holder, of B.P. Capital Management the Oklahoma State athletic director, tried to appeal to Self's sense of glory instead of his sense of greed. This is going to sound shallow, but there are few motivations more powerful than the lust for lucre, and my suspicion is that Holder went about this exactly backwards. Money first, glory later. In any negotiation like this, you must differentiate yourself in terms of your strength, and by trying to set the OSU program against the KU program rather than comparing the financial resources of the two schools and emphasizing the potential of the program through the lens of those assets, Holder actually made the money seem less important to Self. That is a mistake, I suspect, that T. Boone Pickens will ask him not to make again.
Second, it seems to me that Self did not really have a crisis of conscience about leaving Kansas. In fact, he left the door open for just that possibility at a later time. It could be, of course, that Self is just a really honest guy who doesn't want to foreclose possibilities for the sake of wrapping it all up with a nice little bow. If so, he is a rarity among the coaching fraternity. Self will apparently get a big raise (which you have to say he richly deserves), the usual promises of financial commitments to build new athletic department buildings and improve old ones, and of course, a raise for his assistants as the cherry on top.
Regardless, Self is staying put, which means Pickens will now be moving on, but to whom? If you believe Seth Davis, he will be moving on to our own Coach Gillispie. But yesterday, Doug Gottlieb of ESPN made some on-air comments to the effect that Oklahoma State would not consider Gillispie due to his previous DUI's. Apparently, the fact that Gillispie has no actual DUI's or any other alcohol-related convictions is not really important. Perhaps this is one of those, "The seriousness of the allegations make the facts irrelevant" kind of things. However, Doug Gottleib is a former OSU player turned ESPN analyst and is likely to have some good connections in the athletic department there, so it is impossible to dismiss that report (which appears nowhere in print that I can find this morning) out of hand. Could it be a misdirection ploy by the OSU athletic administration? Possibly, but I am not a big believer in conspiracy theories. I'm taking that report at face value until I have reason to believe otherwise.
So if the Craft Center is not the next destination for the Brinks truck containing Pickens' millions, where is it? We don't know, and if you believe Holder's comments, they had no real plan B, but I believe they must have some people in mind, it would be against human nature not to have considered the possibility Bill Self might stay put. But if Gillispie is truly not under consideration, I would suppose that the next place OSU would think about turning is to Memphis' John Calipari, who's first D-1 assistant coaching position was at Kansas. Jamie Dixon of Pittsburgh played at Texas Christian University and has had several coaching positions out West including UC Santa Barbara and Norther Arizona as assistants. Dixon recently turned down the California Golden Bears' advances, but OSU is bringing a lot more to the table.
What about Bruce Pearl? Maybe, although if Gillispie's fictional DUI's matter, one would think the Deon Thomas incident in Perl's past might matter as well. Many might rightly assume that Pearl's recent success at Tennessee would overcome that disgusting affair, but I'm not quite so sanguine about that. Sean Miller of Xavier? Nah. No connections there, and he has rejected all offers suggested around him out of hand. Tom Izzo? Nah, too connected to to Michigan, he has been there virtually his whole life.
Which brings us to Lon Krueger. The former Florida and Illinois coach has been thriving at UNLV, and has other roots in the Midwest and West with stints at Kansas State and Texas Pan-American. He has consistently produced NCAA tournament teams, and got UNLV to the Sweet 16 last year. But the very best place Holder can turn, in my mind, out to the West Coast to Tim Floyd. Floyd has Western/Midwestern roots and has done time at New Orleans, Iowa State, UTEP, and Idaho to go along with his current USC job. Oklahoma State would be a good fit for Floyd, and I think a financial commitment by Pickens and his NBA background could well produce a consistent winner at OSU. USC is still a football school, and OJ Mayo will be moving on to the Association. Maybe it's a good time for Floyd to move on as well.
But I think until a coach is actually hired at OSU, Kentucky fans have good reason for at least a tiny modicum of concern, Doug Gottleib's report notwithstanding. Stay tuned.