Q: WHY NOW? A: Mike Montgomery?

Last night we updated you on some of the credibile information in the high volume of things that we have been hearing.

As we mentioned last night, The Wolfpacker reported on their message boards that a couple of coaches that had informal contact with NC State during this process have been told that State’s job is no longer vacant. We have re-confirmed this with more of the coaching names now. When you add this to the intensification of “chatter� that of the last 48 hours, then obviously reasons exist to believe that the coaching search is coming to an end. We would hope before the weekend.

We think that the KEY QUESTION that needs to be analyzed is – WHY NOW?

This is where we think that you will find your answer to the question of, “Who will be NC State’s next basketball coach?

Yesterday, the name Dereck Whittenburg rose to the surface. Although we like Whitt, and we think that if Whitt continues to succeed as he has been succeeding that he will one day be a very strong candidate for the job, we can’t imagine Whitt getting hired as the head coach in the next couple of days. Why would we have waited? Why NOW?

There is NO WAY that Lee Fowler can waltz Whittenburg into a press conferece on day 20 of the search and introduce a guy that he could have had 11 days earlier and 2 minutes after Calipari said no. No way that this can happen. If this happens, then Lee Fowler would be the most incompetent AD in America. We’ve had our criticisms of Fowler, but we don’t think that he could misunderstand this process that poorly.


We have two theories that have been backed up with some smoke this week that deserve consideration:

(1) Rick Barnes still in play.
Is this one getting old? Of course, we wanted to believe this when we heard a few times through the week. It made some sense when you consider that:

* (a) Barnes hasn’t reportedly signed his new contract at UT

* (b) Texas’ annual basketball awards dinner was earlier this week (and there were rumors that Rick wanted to still be his kids coach on that night,

* (c) Pack Pride reported yesterday that the name that they had heard the most about in the last 24 hours was Barnes.

* (d) People turned their attention to John Calipari’s candidacy on the weekend that it was reported (by Caulton Tudor on Friday) that Barnes had not yet said no to NC State. It was reported that Barnes was going to sign his new contract in Austin, but Wolfpackers dropped the focus on Barnes after the contract announcement and while State was obviously pursuing Calipari.

As ‘dramatic’ as this alternative may be (dovetailing nicely with Dave Glenn’s blog entry yesterday), it may not be necessarily plausible. The later in the week that we get from Monday night’s Texas Basketball Banquet, the less likely the Barnes scenario has legs.

(2) Mike Montgomery of the Golden State Warriors
We told you very early in the search that Lee Fowler was very high on Mike Montgomery. At the time, we didn’t necessarily think that Montgomery’s name should have been discussed ahead of Barnes and Calipari…but, after making a play for Barnes/Calipari then why not re-examine where Montgomery fits compared to other candidates?

A case can definitely be made that Montgomery has the best resume of any candidate whom State has interviewed:

* he is one of only six college coaches in to have been honored with the John R. Wooden “Legends of Coaching� Lifetime Achievement Award, joining Dean Smith, Mike Krzyzewski, Lute Olson, Denny Crum and Roy Williams.

* Montgomery compiled an impressive 547-244 (.692) overall record in 18 years at Stanford (1986-2004) and eight seasons at the University of Montana (1978-1986). He boasts an even more impressive 25 winning seasons in his 26 years as a head coach at both Stanford and Montana.

11:20am (continued) Additionally, Les Robinson has a nice relationship with Montgomery and even suggested Montgomery to NC State ten years ago as his replacement. At the time, Montgomery was firmly entrenched in building a national power at Stanford and wasn’t a fit for the move.

Not only did the NBA regular season end last night, but Golden State’s entire season ended as well since there will be no playoffs in the Warriors future.

Initially working against this theory were quotes from Montgomery and Golden State officials who publicly rebuffed the idea that he would be returning to the college game. However, after the Warriors season finale last night the tone of Montgomery’s comments changed to a much more neutral state and helps us build credence behind this theory:

“Right now that’s talk,” Montgomery said. “Rather than make too much of a deal out of that, let’s just wait and see what happens. I cannot honestly tell you what’s going to happen. But, at the same time, I don’t think you can be so naive to sit there and say this is all great and this all worked. I think you’ve got to keep your eyes open. I think you have to just do a real honest assessment of where you are, what guys can do and what they can’t do relative to this basketball team and each other.”


Any name that is out there that has been linked to the job – Lon Kruger, Mike Brey, Gregg Marshall, Dereck Whittenburg, Steve Lavin, Billy Gillispie, etc, etc – could/should have been hired the day after Calipari said no. If not immediately after the Cal situation, then at least a couple of days after the Cal situation and BEFORE this week’s recruiting evaluation period began.

There has to be a reason why this is happening NOW as opposed to a week earlier. That reason is either (1) Lee Fowler’s laziness and incompetence or (2) something more strategic like our two options in this piece. We think that it has to be #2. In fact, we think that it really is #2 and that the next Head Coach at NC State will be one of college basketball’s most successful coaches of the last 30 years – Mike Montgomery.

Don’t take it to the bank. But, if our premises are correct (and our sources’s guidance haven’t been skewed by misinformation) then deductive reasoning gets us to this conclusion pretty quickly. It is a conclusion that should get Wolfpackers very, very excited.

More later.