Fox is right fit for Nevada

The heat is on new Nevada athletic director Cary Groth.

She's officially been on the job for less than six weeks, and she is days away from making her first big hire - a replacement for men's basketball coach Trent Johnson.

It could very well make or break her. First impressions are critical in any business.

Groth cut the initial list down to four, knocking big names like Steve Lavin, Nolan Richardson and Matt Doherty from further consideration, saying they weren't the "right fit."

One of the three names in consideration is Jeff Strohm, a longtime assistant, who is currently at Marquette. Strohm worked with Groth when the two were at Northern Illinois, and that's scary.

Strohm may be a great coach, but now is not the time to go outside for a coach, unless it was a big-name guy like Lavin or Doherty. Lavin is a great recruiter, and you can't argue with his track record. Even though his teams struggled at times at UCLA, the Bruins were tough at tournament time, making the Sweet 16 several times.

Doherty left Notre Dame too quickly to take the North Carolina job where he was eventually forced out. There were approximately 30 Division I coaching changes, and I found it amusing that Lavin or Doherty weren't considered.

Actually one only needs to look across Legacy Hall to find the "right fit."

Mark Fox, the current associate head coach at Nevada, deserves the job. He's been an assistant for 11 years, working under Lynn Nance at Washington, Tom Asbury at Kansas State and Johnson at Nevada. He has paid his dues and has nothing more to prove as an assistant coach. At some point, he needs a chance to show what he can do, and that time is now.

Fox has two things that none of the three others in consideration for the job, doesn't. Fox has the support of the Wolf Pack players, the community and he's familiar with the recruiting philosophy and the areas Nevada got its players from. Those are three important things.

Fox has been Johnson's right arm, along with David Carter, for the past four years. Johnson supposedly told Groth that Fox should get the job when asked for his input.

It would be a huge mistake to bring in a whole new staff only two months before school starts. Johnson, Fox and Carter started the ball rolling here. Fox and Carter deserve a chance to keep the momentum going. Not keeping the present staff intact could lead to defections down the line.

Some players like Kevinn Pinkney and Chad Bell, who has aleady transferred once, are screwed. However, what's to stop Nick Fazekas from transferring? After the breakout season he enjoyd last year, I know there are plenty of schools that would salivate at the chances of getting him. Fazekas is backing Fox, and that's only natural since Fox was the one who recruited him. Fazekas has already indicated that he would consider transferring if Fox isn't hired.

What's to stop some of the recruits from playing a year to honor their commitment and then leave? Not a thing.

Groth said that this year's recruits will have to honor their commitment to Nevada, and that's one NCAA rule I disagree with. If you are recruited by a certain coaching staff, and that staff leaves the school, the athlete should be given a chance to go elsewhere.

Yes I know that the NCAA letter-of-intent specifically states that you are being recruited by a school and not a coach, but let's face it, those are just words. Kids come to schools because they trust the coach and nothing else.

Darrell Moody can be reached at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281.

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