Finally tracked down an actual story that mentioned USI basketball coach Rodney Watson as a candidate for the Ball State head coaching position. On April 1, the Muncie Star-Press printed Watson’s name within a long list of “other head coaches linked to the Ball State search through various sources,” whatever that means. According to this story, “only Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport and South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy have publicly confirmed they interviewed with Ball State.” But the story goes on to hint that other people — namely Michigan State assistant and former Indiana University player Dane Fife and former Purdue guard Linc Darner — have also interviewed with the school. The list of other coaches includes Jeff Neubauer of Eastern Kentucky, Brian Wardle of Wisconsin-Green Bay, assistant coaches Steve McClain at Indiana, Jack Owens at Purdue and Dwayne Stephens at Michigan State. Craig Neal’s name also is listed, but he’s now the head coach at New Mexico, of course.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say Scotty Davenport will be hired, especially if Louisville wins the national championship on Monday night. Davenport was an assistant under head coach Rick Pitino at Louisville and has won a Division II national championship (and got his team all the way to the Elite Eight semifinals last year) — two pretty impressive credentials for a mid-major school looking to hire a ready-made winner. And I don’t think Davenport would be looking to move on after a year or two if he’s successful. That’s because — and this is not a sign of disrespect or age-ism — he’s no young gun. If he stayed awhile, he could conceivably turn a mid-major into a major player, and every low-level school is looking to become the next Florida Gulf Coast.
Well, that didn’t take long. A couple of minutes after I tweeted about this post, Michael Robertson at USI tweeted to me that Arizona assistant James Whitford has already been named BSU’s coach — a name nowhere on the Star-Press list, by the way. A search showed CBSSports.com and ESPN reported he was hired on Saturday. As I re-tweeted to Robertson, blogs can be dangerous. At least, USI fans can breathe a sigh of relief that Watson’s going to be around for at least another year. For now, anyway. Whitford, by the way, is 41 years old, from Madison, Wis., and served previously as an assistant at Miami (Ohio) and Xavier.