clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Will Danny Hurley Become The Next Rutgers Basketball Coach?

New, comments

We know Rutgers and Hurley are negotiating. The multi-million dollar question is, how will the negotiations end?

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE 3/16 12PMDanny Hurley reportedly removed himself from consideration for the Rutgers job.

It has been reported that Rutgers and Danny Hurley are in negotiations for him to become the next men's basketball coach.  Athletic Director Pat Hobbs reached out to Rhode Island officials on Saturday for permission to speak with Hurley.  It was reported Sunday that the two parties began discussing the possibility of Hurley taking over a program he was a candidate for three years ago.  Since Sunday, things have been quiet, which likely means negotiations are still ongoing.  While it was reported this morning that wildcard candidate Jay Williams also interviewed yesterday with Hobbs, Hurley is likely still the top target. Hobbs does need to keep his options open and is perhaps using Williams' interest as leverage. Still the big question is, will Hurley become the next coach at Rutgers? Here are five things that Hurley and Hobbs are surely discussing, which could determine if this deal actually gets done.

Contract

This one is obvious, but there was speculation that negotiations broke down three years ago because Rutgers was unwillingly to give anything more than a 5 year contract. Ultimately, that is what Eddie Jordan was signed for and there is no chance Hurley would do the same.  That means a minimum of a 6 year contract, which essentially gives Hurley 4 years to get the program in a better place before his contract would need to be evaluated.  For recruiting purposes, coaches with less than 2 years left on their contract can be a concern for recruits.  In terms of money, Hurley is set to make $1 million next season at Rhode Island.  As Rutgers is a Big Ten job, a competitive offer would need to start around $1.5 million per season.  The salary pool for assistants and support staff will be crucial as well. Knowing how Hobbs operated with the football opening, there is no reason to believe he wouldn't come to the table armed with a Big Ten level contract.  And if he does, Hobbs would prove to be the difference maker in this negotiation, versus the one three years ago.

Facilities

Another obvious issue for Hurley to evaluate is how close is the basketball practice facility to becoming a reality? We know there are solid plans and that Hobbs started a fundraising campaign, but Hurley will want assurances that there is a specific timeline in place.  He could even ask for assurances to be included in his contract, meaning if the facility development doesn't progress to an agreed upon phase by a certain date, Hurley could have an out clause in his contract. Another reason to be confident in Hobbs is he has made facilities his top priority and likely has detailed information to provide Hurley.

Rutgers Administrative commitment

Read this quote from Jerry Carino's story:

The main obstacle Hobbs faces is convincing Hurley of Rutgers’ commitment to the sport, which has flagged partly due to institutional neglect over a 10-year period.

While Hobbs is said to be promising Big Ten-level financial and facility support, concerns remain about the commitment from the top of Rutgers administration, including president Robert Barchi.

There have been valid reasons to have doubts with President Barchi and his lack of desire to fully support Rutgers athletics in the past.  As we all know, he answered those doubts with a resounding response in the fall by firing former AD Julie Hermann and football coach Kyle Flood.  But the biggest reason to be confident in Barchi's commitment to athletics now is Pat Hobbs.  He hired him to turn around the athletic department and Hobbs has indicated he would never had accepted the position if he wasn't assured full support from the administration, including Barchi.  Hurley has a right to have concerns, based on past history with Rutgers.  At some point in the negotiations, Barchi will need to come to the table and give his own assurances.  Based on the past few months, there is reason to believe that will happen.

Rebuild Again

Hurley has overseen two program rebuilds the past six years. He took over a Wagner program that went 5-26 in 2009-2010 and went 13-17 in year one and 26-5 in year two. That led him to Rhode Island, where he jumped from 8-21 in year one to 23-10 in year three.  To do that in the Atlantic 10 makes that improvement all the more impressive. Sure, his team only went 17-15 this season, but after losing his all-conference star in the first game of the season, and second best player down the stretch, Hurley still led the Rams to an impressive win over a ranked Dayton team on the road.

As we know, Rutgers would be a massive, higher profile rebuild.  Is Hurley up for that, in combination with leaving a team in Rhode Island that is primed for next season with all of its starters returning? Could it be a case of Hurley knowing too much about the Rutgers job? Meaning, he of any candidate has the best idea of the challenges at Rutgers, after working there as an assistant and being from New Jersey. Or after speaking with Hobbs and Barchi, will Hurley feel prepared to take on the task of rebuilding a program that has failed for decades? Let's hope it's the latter, but right now there is no way to know for sure.  His decision may hinge on this factor more than any other.

Coaching Graveyard

The most decorated Rutgers basketball coach of all-time, Tom Young, left in 1985 to take the Old Dominion job. That started not only decades of futility within the program, but what became a coaching death sentence for almost every replacement since his departure. Since Young left, out of the last seven head coaches at Rutgers dating back the last 31 years, only one went on to be a college head coach again.

Gary Waters left Rutgers after the 2006 since, the last winning season for the program, and has been the head coach at Cleveland State ever since. Craig Littlepage was a disaster and never coached again, although he became athletic director at Virginia and still is today. Bob Wenzel is the last coach to bring Rutgers the NCAA's, but was fired after three losing seasons and never coached again. Kevin Bannon showed promise and then was fired after the naked free throw disaster.  Enter Waters, who never developed a recruiting pipeline in New Jersey and infamously missed a game to attend his hall of fame induction ceremony at Kent State. Fred Hill flamed out and although he is now an assistant coach at Seton Hall, he is likely never to be a head coach again.  Mike Rice somehow got a job coaching a premier high school team in the Patrick school, but I'm skeptical he will ever get a chance in the college ranks again.  And of course, there is little chance Eddie Jordan coaches college basketball again.

That's a percentage of 14%, not for successful coaches at Rutgers, but of any of those coaches every getting another head coaching job again.  Is Hurley ready to battle that history and turn this program around? The happiest of endings would be he is, and that he is so successful at Rutgers, he never needs or wants to take another head coaching position again. We can only hope....and wait.