For more than six months now, Arizona State has been playing a waiting game with Utah coach Rick Majerus regarding its head basketball coaching job.The wait has been much longer than expected because of the Utes' incredible run through the NCAA tournament, right up to Monday night's championship game.
Finally, the Sun Devils are ready to act, but the question is whether Majerus is.
Rather than accompany the team back to Salt Lake Tuesday, Majerus stayed in San Antonio to be with friends and family members and unwind from the rigorous season. But according to sources in Arizona, Majerus also met with ASU athletic director Kevin White to discuss the open Arizona State job.
The Sun Devils are very interested in signing Majerus to replace Bill Frieder, who was fired last September. They couldn't get him signed last fall, apparently because of problems with Majerus' Reebok shoe contract and because it was so close to the start of the season. The fact that Majerus and White are good friends fueled speculation about a move by Majerus.
Utah athletic director Chris Hill confirmed Tuesday that White had asked to talk to Majerus about a week ago, and he assumed that the two would talk sometime soon. But he didn't know if that talk took place Tuesday.
Majerus was asked after Monday night's championship game loss about his plans for next year, and he deflected the question, saying, "Oh, I don't know - that's the furthest thing from my mind right now."
Hill said the university is obviously very pleased with Majerus and would like to keep him as long as possible. Just last year, Majerus signed a contract that is good for six more years. As for redoing the contract after the Utes' successful season, Hill said it was possible.
"Rick and I will talk sometime in the next couple of weeks and discuss anything he wants to discuss in regards to his contract," said Hill. "Obviously we want to do what is appropriate to keep him here. We want to keep him as long as possible."
Even if Majerus did talk to White, it doesn't mean he is necessarily interested in moving to Arizona. Several of his friends and fellow coaches have said this week they doubt Majerus would leave Utah for the Arizona State job because it would be a lateral move for no more money. Majerus has always said he'll listen to anyone concerning job offers.
During his numerous press conferences during the tournament, Majerus gave no indication about leaving Utah. He often talked about how much he liked Utah and the players he coaches and spoke about how much he is looking forward to taking his team to Hawaii again for the Maui Classic next season.
"I like my players a lot," he said. "It's fun to coach them and to be with them. They are really a nice group."
Majerus has expressed some frustration with LDS players leaving on missions, and he might lose three key players - Britton Johnsen, Trace Caton and Jon Carlisle - to missions. Some believe he might be more persuaded to leave if he faced a major rebuilding job should Andre Miller and Hanno Mottola leave for the pros and the three aforementioned players leave on missions.