Forget Sean Miller.
He’s not going to be coming back home to save the Pitt basketball program and not because nobody wants to hire a coach of a fourth seed who just lost to a 13 seed by 21 points.
First of all, he’s not leaving the University of Arizona, no matter how embarrassing the loss to Buffalo was. The university board of regents announced on March 2nd that Miller would be back next year and that was followed by Miller defiantly denying the ESPN report that said he could be heard on wire taps talking about making a $100,000 payment to a recruit.
After multiple corrections, ESPN is sticking by its story.
Arizona getting blown out by Buffalo was a perfect ingredient to add to more speculation or hope that Miller might become available, but why would Pitt want him?
The FBI investigation that could affect some of the top college basketball programs in the country still has a long way to go.
Miller’s assistant, Book Richardson, who was arrested and charged with bribery, doesn’t go on trial until next April.
Does Miller’s defiance have anything to do with the fact that, if there is audio implicating him, it won’t be heard by anybody unless it comes out in trial more than a year from now?
Or maybe Miller is telling the truth.
Doesn’t matter. Nobody, including Pitt, is going to hire him as long as there is any chance that the FBI and/or the NCAA could put an end to his career after one year.
Rhode Island beating Oklahoma on Thursday in Pittsburgh was also a perfect ingredient to pump up the rumors about Dan Hurley leaving RI and taking the Pitt job.
Hurley has done a great job at Rhode Island and is this year’s Movin’ On Up coach in the tournament. If Pitt does offer him a job, it won’t be the only job offer he gets.
And why would Hurley want Pitt?
Yeah, it’s the ACC and every coach would like a shot at winning in that conference, and he’s well aware of what Pitt basketball was not too long ago, but does he really want to start at zero?
Pittsburgh Sports Now reported that as many as eight current Pitt players, many of whom, if not all, spoke favorably of the guy who was fired, Kevin Stallings, have asked for their release.
When you go 0-19 in your conference you probably shouldn’t be too disappointed when your players want to follow the fired coach out the door, but the new coach can’t be expected to scout the intramural tournament to find players for his first season.
Maybe the players who asked for their release could change their minds if they like the new hire, but then again, they went 0-19.
It’s easier to rebuild a basketball program than it is to rebuild a football program because you don’t need as many players, but the Pitt basketball program right now is about where Pitt’s football program was in 1972.
It’s every bit as far down the basketball toilet as Pitt football was down the football toilet before bringing in Johnny Majors.
Majors pulled off a turnaround that ranks right up there with Chuck Noll’s Steelers turnaround.
The Pitt basketball program isn’t as far removed from success as those two teams were but it’s going to take a legendary coach to bring it back.
Is Dan Hurley that guy?
He might be and he might, because of his name and his recent success, be able to talk some top recruits into being part of a ground-up rebuild.
But, after what happened to Stallings after two years, what would make him believe he’s going to get the time and the resources to pull it off?
How much patience will the boosters and the alumni have?
Majors and his successor, Jackie Sherrill, got the Pitt administration to look the other way when it came to minor details like academics and eligibility in order to stock the program for its eight-year run that has never come close to being duplicated.
The Pitt job requires a guy with a nationally recognized name who’s going to get a ton of money for himself, his assistants and a recruiting budget.
The problem is that a guy with the credentials to demand and get those things will be getting offers from programs that aren’t nearly as far down the toilet.
What’s going to attract him to Pitt, the weather?
There is probably an assistant coach out there who, if given lots of time and patience, could get The Pete filled up again.
The question is whether there is anybody within 50 miles of The Pete who has enough of either and the ability to convince Dan Hurley or any other game-changer that they do.