LAS VEGAS If Dave Rose and Lon Kruger keep their success trains rolling, will they stick around the Mountain West?
Stacking up 20-plus-win seasons in a league like this is a sure ticket to get phone calls, find yourself on the top lists by hiring committees in the Pac-10, Big 12, Big 10 and other so-called major conferences.
So, if they win, are they gone?
Of course, they will be courted. But would they go?
I think not. But I could be wrong, especially if the conference's weak TV exposure doesn't improve.
Kruger has already lived the life of a nomad coach, packing his bags and trailing paychecks and notoriety and even rode the magic carpet through the NBA. I think UNLV is a perfect fit for the man. It's a place that loves its basketball and makes marble busts out of winners like gods to be worshipped.
No, Kruger will do just fine right here. He can recruit and he can win and as long as the MWC tournament is in his den, the odds are in his favor to make NCAA trips a regular affair.
I certainly think folks will come calling. He's done a remarkable job. This season, he's gotten BYU more wins than Frank Arnold, Roger Reid, Steve Cleveland or Ladell Anderson. He's approaching a certain status in Provo and people are taking note.
But as long as I've known Rose, the most important thing in a basketball sense that rings his bell is winning. And it doesn't matter the stage.
When hired at BYU, he raised some eyebrows when he boldly talked about taking the Cougars to the Final Four.
Wouldn't a league title have done? For a start? Not with Rose, he just thinks wins and having experienced the Final Four as a player before, he has a great drive to return there on the sideline, not in the building during the coaches convention, but as a key cog. Again.
In Rose's process of posting 20-9, 25-9 and 26-6 seasons in his three years (heading into Friday's semifinals), Rose has proven extremely effective in getting this message to players. And he tends to do very well with players who are disciplined, listen and are mature enough to understand and obey.
In recruiting to BYU, he's also made promises and pitches to players like Oklahoma 6-A player of the year Noah Harstock, who will be a freshman fresh off missionary service this summer. He's selling his program to other recruits, guys like Lone Peak's Deseret Morning News Mr. Basketball, junior Tyler Haws, who has yet to decide where he's going heading into his senior year next fall.
I don't see Rose investing all that sales work, with Jimmer Fredette, Chris Collinsworth and Michael Loyd to a very unique place to recruit to and then abandon it. He's a players' coach. It's in his DNA.
At his age, could he uproot his family and take a job away from his parents and grandkids? I don't see it.
Also, Rose just finished gutting the inside of his east Provo home, customizing and updating everything including creation of a nifty theater room. Nothing he couldn't walk away from, yet it is his baby, and he enjoys the convenience of walking to work if he so desires. He's domestically set up.
His wife, Cheryl, has devoted tons of energy and time in establishing a Christmas for children with cancer, a program that's impacted many lives in Utah Valley. Of course, she could repeat it elsewhere, but right now she's on a run. Give it up? I don't think so.
Others argue otherwise.
Of course, success must be compensated. Kruger is going to get his. Heck, all Las Vegas needs to do is shut down electricity in one wing of a giant hotel for a night and businessmen could give him a hefty bonus on the savings.
BYU has instigated a Coaches Circle, and a second group of boosters, whose mission is to establish an endowment to pay head coaches close maybe not exactly but closer to a competitive earning than we've ever seen before.
BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, a former coach in the Pac-10, understands this more than anyone. That's why he renegotiated Bronco Mendenhall and Rose's salary before the school year began.
While it may not be pots of gold, the signings were statements of well-earned appreciation.
"Dave cares about winning. He's done a tremendous job of getting his players to focus on the task at hand, the next step, the next game" said Holmoe. "And he wants to go deep, real deep."
If he does, and Kruger does, will this twosome move on to greener fields?
Nobody knows but Kruger and Rose.
But I'd bet against it.And I'm in a city that would love to take my wager.
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