Throughout the NCAA basketball tournament, Utah basketball coach Rick Majerus gave every indication he would be returning to Utah next year.
He spoke of the players he loved to coach, his great friends in Utah and about how excited he was to take his team to the Maui Classic again next November.So it was really no surprise when he announced - in a national media forum, of course - that he was turning down a lucrative offer to coach at Arizona State and was planning to return to Utah.
Majerus revealed his intentions on live television Thursday, while being interviewed on the ESPN program "Up Close," saying he had decided just a few hours earlier.
"I respectfully decided to decline and stay at Utah," he said. "They (ASU) have a wonderful situation and a tremendous school, but I have a wonderful situation and a tremendous school. I have players I feel indebted to, and I won't go to Arizona State. It was tempting and flattering . . . but I'm staying where I'm at."
For Majerus it was another in a long line of job offers that he has considered, then declined during his nine-year tenure at Utah.
Clear back in 1992, he considered the UNLV job after Jerry Tarkanian left. Since then he has been a top candidate for jobs at Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Pitt, St. John's, Illinois and Florida as well as pro jobs at Milwaukee and Golden State.
Majerus seems to enjoy the attention of feeling wanted but says he is just keeping an open ear to the various jobs year after year. "You should listen to people," he said. "You do a disservice if you don't at least explore your options."
Utah athletic director Chris Hill said he met with Majerus Wednesday night after the coach returned from San Antonio and Majerus indicated he would likely turn down the ASU job. But Hill wasn't sure until Majerus announced it on ESPN.
"Obviously we're happy Rick is staying," said Hill. "It's a real compliment to the university that Rick is staying here."
According to Hill, the matter of money wasn't discussed and Majerus wasn't using the ASU job as leverage for more money.
"Rick did not ask that his compensation be increased," said Hill.
Majerus was asked by ESPN interviewer Chris Meyers about whether he'll take a big job someday, and Majerus replied, "You can't get much bigger than the Final Four and the championship game. I've got wonderful players and a great university. I know people care about me, and I care about them. I really like my players."
While Majerus indicated by turning down the ASU job that he would be back next year, Ute fans shouldn't get too comfortable.
At least one source close to Majerus said he still might be interested in other jobs, including the University of Texas job, which just opened Thursday as well as a pro job at the end of the NBA season, perhaps the Laker job if it opens up.
Two weeks ago, he told the Deseret News, "If I do leave, the direction I go may surprise a lot of people," which indicated he wasn't likely to go to Arizona State but could go elsewhere.
Coaching the Lakers would be a dream job, but the current coach is his good friend Del Harris. And if Harris is let go, Majerus may not feel comfortable about taking his place.
The Texas job is better than a lot of people might realize, and Ma-jer-us has said positive things about the position to friends over the years when the Utes have played games in Austin. One Texas TV station reported that Majerus was already being considered for the position, and outgoing Longhorns coach Tom Penders himself recommended Majerus in his resignation speech.
Besides doing the ESPN show Thursday, Majerus did some recruiting in Compton Thursday night. And Friday he will be on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." He is going to Milwaukee for the weekend and will do more recruiting next week.
Majerus said he expects to sign "two or three additional players" during the signing period, which will begin April 15.
On ESPN, Majerus said Andre Miller is "going to come back next year."
Miller said last week he was coming back for another year, then changed his tune the last few days to say he was undecided. He said the fact that Majerus is coming back makes him more likely to stay but that he will sit down with his coach later this month and "look at all my options," something that Majerus has been saying all along.
The only players almost certain to return next year are sophomore forwards Alex Jensen and Hanno Mottola and center Nate Althoff. Three freshmen are likely to go on LDS missions, Trace Caton, Jon Carlisle and Britton Johnsen, while sophomore guards Jordie McTavish and David Jackson may transfer.
The Utes have already signed four players, 6-10 Tyson Johnston from Colorado, 6-9 Phil Cullen from Washington, 6-2 Ben Huesser from Idaho and 6-5 Brad Crockett from Viewmont High School.