Bama's Wooing Of Anthony Grant

Were I writing a story of what I actually know about Alabama's search for a basketball coach and exactly where Anthony Grant of VCU fits into that search, this would be a very short story. It is, however, more than that. It is what I have heard from other reporters, and what I surmise, and a wee bit of things I know to be true.



As all who care (and a lot of others) know, Alabama sent its jet to Virginia this morning with Executive Athletics Director Dave Hart on board. He returned with VCU Coach Anthony Grant and Mrs. Grant. (Here's one thing I know: I have been on that plane, and it is superfine. The Grants would have been impressed.)

Anthony Grant was quite casual if this trip was a job interview. He wore an open-collared shirt under a blazer. He didn't say anything to reporters.

I have been reading a lot of stories and hearing a lot of reports that cite "multiple sources," which is the new clarification that "what I am telling you is probably the truth, or at least it could be." For the most part, the sources of this report are other reporters.

I have absolutely no one telling me anything off the record or behind the scenes, but this is what I believe:

Alabama Athletics Director Mal Moore and Hart went to Virginia last weekend and visited with Grant, after having received permission from VCU's director of athletics.

I do not believe that Grant was offered the job during that visit, but he was asked to make a visit to Tuscaloosa.

When Grant agreed to come to Tuscaloosa, I believe Moore may have made the decision to offer him the job as Alabama head coach.

Grant is making about $800,000 per year. I suspect Alabama would about double that salary. There was a report from Richmond that VCU does not intend to make a counter-offer. That could mean one of several things:

That Alabama has not made an offer, thus there is no reason for VCU to make a counter-offer. I don't happen to believe this scenario.

That VCU suspects there is going to be a bidding war for Grant, Alabama and others, and VCU doesn't want to get involved in it. I hope this is not true.

That VCU is resigned to its lot, that it has an excellent basketball coach and knows it is not going to be able to keep him, whether it be this year or next year of whenever, and it doesn't have the resources to keep fending off the big boys.

One thing I did find out from a real source is that all activity in the main arena of Coleman Coliseum (conditioning work, etc.) was cancelled so the court could be set up as it is on basketball game days.

I did not expect any announcement from Alabama or Grant while Grant was in Tuscaloosa. After the way Dennis Francione left Alabama for Texas A&M, I suspect Moore would want his new coach to leave his old school the right way, by face-to-face telling his VCU team.

There could be a Rich Rodriguez concern. Moore had worked out all the details of a football contract with Rodriguez and his agent a few years ago, but let Rodriguez go back to West Virginia without signing anything. Rodriguez used the Alabama offer to get a better deal for himself at West Virginia, and then welshed on Moore. But VCU doesn't seem a likely pigeon like West Virginia was.

The Grant buyout is reportedly $240,000 today, but drops to only $200,000 on April 1. I don't believe Moore would wait in order to save paying VCU the extra $40,000.

I read that part of the deal will be a basketball practice facility. Mal Moore does love to raise money and build things, so that doesn't surprise me.

Most of the basketball world expects Kentucky to fire Billy Gillespie and many expected Florida's Billy Donovan to be the Wildcats' top choice. Grant was with Donovan for many years. When Donovan flirted with the NBA a few years ago, it was believed Grant (a Florida native) was in line to get the Gators' job. It may be Donovan has confided his intentions, regardless of the Kentucky situation, to Grant. In other words, it would be in Alabama's best interest if Donovan is not interested in leaving Gainesville.

Grant is considered a very deliberate person. One who knows him well predicted he would not make a quick decision on a job. Moore was patient waiting for Nick Saban as head football coach, but he didn't have many options. This could be a clash of wills if Moore wants quick action and Grant wants to wait.

One thing that is reasonably certain is that the secret won't be kept long. There are too many sources out there.

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