EGGERS: Time to talk about OSU basketball job
The online application process is complete. Interviews begin Friday.
Oregon State should have a new basketball coach in a week or so.
The good thing is, OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis reversed field and chose to let Craig Robinson go, even with three years and $4 million in salary remaining.
Maybe Robinson gets a job in the next three years and some of that $4 million comes off the Beavers' tab. Maybe not. Doesn't matter. A change had to be made. The OSU basketball program couldn't afford not to have a new start.
Another good thing: De Carolis is not using a search firm as he did six years ago, not spending $85,000 for some company in Atlanta to tell him who Oregon State needed to tend to its basketball fortunes.
How'd that one work out?
De Carolis has closed ranks around him. Even insiders in the OSU athletic department aren't sure how exactly he will handle this hire, or who, if anyone, he is leaning toward. He has a small group of athletic department officials and boosters/alums lined up to serve as a search committee. They'll help with the interview process and make recommendations. In the end, it will be De Carolis' call.
Ben Howland pulled out of the running, and rumors flew that he was De Carolis' guy but wanted more money than the Beavers could afford. Can't tell you if that's the case or not. But I'm glad the pick isn't Howland, though several people -- including Blazers guard Earl Watson, who didn't play for Howland but is a Bruin and still closely follows the program -- vouched for him.
The Bruins decided to let Howland go after a 25-win season. Something other than the ghost of John Wooden had to be the reason.
No question the Oregon State job is a better one than when Robinson arrived in 2008, even with the talent base thinner that the Beavers' sophomore center, 7-foot Cheikh N'Diaye.
There's the spanking-new basketball training facility that Robinson helped get built -- thanks for that, Craig. Gill Coliseum remains more of a negative than a positive, but it's been spruced up, and other athletic facilities on campus are in line with the Pac-12 brethren. Players are drawn as much to a coach and the chance to play for a winning program as they are an arena.
There's also the feeling that the time is right to get something accomplished with a program that has lied dormant for more than two decades. Look what Mike Riley has done in football. Pat Casey hasn't let sleepy Corvallis stop him from national championships and, this season, a No. 1 ranking.
De Carolis blew it with hires of Robinson and LaVonda Wagner in women's basketball. The OSU AD hit the jackpot when he picked Scott Rueck to succeed Wagner.
No reason he can't get it right this time, too. There are plenty of strong candidates from which to choose.
I'm disappointed Lester Conner won't get an interview because he doesn't have a college degree. The former OSU standout, now an assistant coach with the Denver Nuggets, would loved to have had the job, "the only college job I'd consider taking," he told me Wednesday.
De Carolis told Conner on Sunday that he'd gone to the office of the provost to see if the degree requirement could be relaxed. No dice. The thinking, I guess, is that if Conner is pushing his players toward graduation, he needs to have a diploma of his own.
I don't agree with that at all. Conner has a degree in basketball and in coaching. He would be just as diligent in selling his players on graduation as any coach with a sheepskin. And for those players with an eye on an NBA future (read: all), Conner would have been a perfect fit. He would have galvanized the group of alums and former players who have been turned off by what has happened with OSU basketball since the Jimmy Anderson era.
Conner isn't the only guy for the job, though. It appears Terry Porter and Eric Musselman -- both two-time NBA head coaches -- will get interviews. Both are quality people with big-time basketball pedigrees. Porter has lived in Portland for most of the time since joining the Trail Blazers in the mid-1980s and continues to call the city home.
Damon Stoudamire is another intriguing candidate, though without the head coaching experience or credentials of Porter and Musselman. At 40, he's young enough to connect with his recruits, and he has the Oregon background, too, as a Portland native who played for the Blazers.
There will probably be others landing an interview -- presumably college head coaches and assistants. Perhaps someone whose name hasn't yet surfaced will emerge as the best candidate.
Beaver Nation will have to place faith in De Carolis that he'll make a good decision. There is no other choice.