New updates on the Cal basketball coaching search front. It sounds like Eric Musselman and the California Golden Bears were not as close to a decision as we originally thought, and certainly Cal never offered Musselman the job.
A source close to the Cal coaching search tells me that no offer was made to Eric Musselman or any other candidate.— Ben Ross (@BenRossSports) March 23, 2017
Musselman reportedly interviewed with Cal twice before turning back to the Nevada Wolf Pack and readied himself for a large contract raise.
There are a few possibilities in play here. Here are some of the possibilities I think are the most likely with regards to Musselman and Cal (and you can pick more than one truth. All of them are quite possible!).
(NOTE: Everything below in numbered points is speculation. I’m constructing opinions based on the news reports we’re getting here. Take them for what you will)
- Through the search process, Musselman got less enthused about the Cal job knowing full well his past transgressions (DUI, losing the locker room at two NBA stops, and of course the Huffnagel issue) would become immediate news stories the moment he became the Cal coach. Musselman is not a popular figure with Warriors fans especially, and there’s plenty of Cal fan/Warrior fan overlap.
- Musselman learned that UC President Janet Napolitano would probably not sign off on the hire because of his hiring of dismissed Cal assistant Yann Hufnagel. All coaching decisions by any UC program (Cal or UCLA, although admittedly Cal moves much slower due to institutional inertia) need to be signed off by the UC President and the Regents. Remember that Napolitano was quick to act to fire Huffnagel after last year’s reported sexual misconduct. It’s unlikely she’d view kindly the man who gave this person a second chance.
- At some point, when it became clear that Cal was no longer going to be his future destination. Musselman allies (most likely his agent) probably started leaking stories to the press in an attempt at leverage. Force Nevada to pony up for future contract extension talks, make Musselman look like a hot commodity, and ensure future security regardless.
Also, some encouraging reports seem to indicate that Cal is involving donors and basketball alumni into the coaching search process in some capacity.
Same source tells me that Cal alumni and other basketball minds nationally have been consulted regarding the coaching search— Ben Ross (@BenRossSports) March 23, 2017
This is definitely a more encouraging spin for the athletic department than the gloom and doom forecast we were provided earlier.
There are still many questions here (it’s still unclear whether Cal has hired a search firm like they have for previous job searches), and we have no idea who exactly the frontrunner is to be the new Cal coach.
- We do know UC Irvine coach Russell Turner and UC Davis coach Jim Les have interviewed.
- UCLA/St. John’s former coach Steve Lavins and Cal alumni/NBA executive Shareef Abdur-Rahim have both expressed interest.
Along with Musselman, St. Mary’s coach Randy Bennett and Montana coach Travis DeCuire have taken themselves out of the running for the position.