Johnson's departure a Cardinal sin?
BY DARRELL MOODY
A lot is being made of Trent Johnson's sudden departure from Stanford to LSU. I can think of a few different reasons why Johnson made the jump.
• It's all about the money. Even Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby admitted to the Associated Press that Stanford couldn't or wouldn't match what LSU would be able to offer.
• It's all about being wanted. An 80-48 record certainly deserves some off-season talk about a contract extension. Maybe Stanford was waiting for Johnson to fail, and that didn't happen. The Cardinal finished a strong second to UCLA in the Pac-10 Conference.
• It's all about the grades. Stanford's reputation for academic excellence is a double-edged sword. It takes a lot to get into Stanford. Certainly at LSU, Johnson will have an easier time getting players into the school. Stanford gets some great players who are smart, but they aren't as plentiful as the borderline student who is a good athlete.
• Sticking it to Montgomery? There was a lot of rumors swirling that Mike Montgomery, Johnson's former boss, was undermining him. Montgomery was a member of the Stanford athletic department. Many believe that he wanted his old job back. If that's the case, did Johnson wait until Montgomery made a move before considering the LSU offer? Even if it wasn't the case, it makes for good water-cooler talk.
• The Stanford job was supposed to be Johnson's "dream job". It was the only one that got him to leave Nevada. Obviously something happened in these last four years to make Johnson give up his dream job. Only Trent knows, and he's not saying much right now.
Johnson is a good coach, and he's proven that at both Nevada and Stanford. LSU used to be a dominant team in the SEC, and no doubt Johnson can get the Tigers back to the upper echelon in no time at all.
Who will take over at Stanford? That's the $64,000 question. The search was to start immediately.
Nevada athletic director Cary Groth said that Stanford had not requested permission to talk to Mark Fox, who was a finalist for the Cal job.
A name to keep an eye on might be Keno Davis of Drake, the AP Coach of the Year. Davis, who led Drake to 28 wins this season, is the son of former Stanford and Iowa coach Dr. Tom Davis.
Bowlsby used to be athletic director at Iowa, so there is some history.
Phone calls and e-mails to Bowlsby and Davis had yet to be returned as of Friday afternoon.
A Western Athletic Conference baseball tournament without the host school involved? That's currently what the conference is looking at this year.
In their infinite wisdom, the powers-at-be awarded this year's tournament to Louisiana Tech. Currently, the Bulldogs are 2-8 in conference and mired in last place. And, to make matters worse, Louisiana Tech has a four-game series this weekend with Fresno State.
This scenario has happened before. Fresno State hosted the tournament and failed to qualify.
"It's happened before," said Jeff Hurd, WAC senior associate commissioner. "It's not good for the host school. They are on the hook for a sizeable amount of money. It's not a good thing. It's the downside to predetermining a site when not everybody goes.
"It could change [people's minds about rotating]. I certainly don't know what they're thinking."
Hurd pointed out that part of the problem is having an odd amount of teams. Certainly eight would be better than the current seven because the top two teams could be granted byes.
Who knows, maybe the Ruston, La., folks will support the tournament no matter what, but I highly doubt it.
At one time, Hurd felt that the baseball tournament would stay in the west so more schools could bus to the tournament, thus cutting down on expenses. Whoever decides on where the tournaments will be held decided that all the team sports - except basketball (which is on a bid process) - would be rotated.
That's a huge mistake. Some of the facilities aren't that great. New Mexico State is a wind tunnel, San Jose State's Municipal Stadium is old and in poor condition and Sacramento State's on-campus site isn't big enough.
Fresno State is the best place to hold the tournament other than it is in Fresno. The weather is great. I think Reno is a close second followed by Hawaii. If the WAC could ever rent the Triple-A park in Sacramento for the event, then that would be a good place to go.
Personally, I think it should be rotated between Fresno State and Nevada.
• Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281