When you win a tournament game your coaching life changes. Your name is tossed in the rumor mill by reflex. Grant McCasland won the league title in CUSA (back-to-back) and he won his first NCAA Tournament game for himself and the program. It stands to reason that other programs will want to steal him away.
You might have heard that Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard, himself a prized coach and a frequent subject of the rumor mill, went to Austin to become the new Texas coach. Shaka Smart is at Marquette, Chris Beard is in Austin, and Lon Kruger, formerly of Oklahoma, is in retirement. It makes sense that McCasland is at least making the twitter rounds of the rumor stage.
The reality is that the Texas Tech alumni and movers and shakers have a strong opinion of who that will be. I expect they will go after a big named coach given the hurt feelings over Beard leaving to Austin. The Oklahoma job is a more intriguing one.
In the MGN super secret slack we had discussed this scenario earlier in the year and came to the conclusion that Denton’s proximity to Mac’s family is a really good leverage option. He makes good-enough money to not want for much of anything. Sure, we all would like pay raise, but at a certain point it is more of the same. He can make a good living and have a long career as the NT basketball coach if he wanted and continued to have success. Beyond that, the bigger programs that can provide some of the same –Tech, Oklahoma, Texas, A&M are all nearby and can probably promise the use of a private plane or some such to make sure he can get home to see family on the days he wanted to.
We’ve argued in this space before that basketball, because of its structure and the openness of the NCAA Tournament, provides coaches with just enough of an opportunity to compete on a national level that a solid, competitive program can be built just about anywhere. NT is investing in its basketball, now. There is an arena push, the new fund was just announced, and Wren Baker’s staff is trying to capitalize on the momentum of the tournament run.
This league, despite its faults, deserves a little respect. You can win at a CUSA school. You can have competitive games that prepare you for the tournament. You can get good players into your program that will help you compete at the top. It sure is easier to get the top recruits if you have a state-of-the-art athletic program but ask Shaka Smart if the grass is truly greener at a big program.
If Grant goes, more power to him. I hope he succeeds wherever and everyone does well. NT is in a great position to hire someone that can continue what has been built — and may already employ that person.
If he stays, NT will of course be in a good spot. The program has a solid roster entering next season and the fact that on paper NT has never scared the top of the conference despite having won a regular season and a conference tournament title. That is to say the North Texas basketball program is in a good spot.