The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that Johnson will be named the new coach at TCU as early as Monday and two sources close to the LSU program confirmed that information.
The looming job change makes sense for a lot of reasons for Johnson and LSU.
The Horned Frogs begin play in the Big 12 Conference next season – a step up in competition and prestige from the Mountain West. They need an established coach has shown the ability to regenerate some momentum in a program.
For Johnson, going from the recruiting base of Louisiana – a handful of star players but not a huge pool – to Texas would be a move in the right direction. Besides the Texas Longhorns, there aren’t many dominant college basketball programs in the Lone Star State right now. With the talent base in the Dallas-Fort Worth area alone, a program could land a few recruits and climb onto the national scene very quickly.
Going to TCU would also allow Johnson to stick to the high recruiting standards he has followed since he got to LSU – similar to how he got players to Stanford. TCU is a private school with selective admission requirements, so Johnson could tap into the recruiting base he’s most comfortable with.
There is also a chance to avoid a possible contract squabble between Johnson and the school. The normal procedure at LSU and a lot of major programs is for an automatic rollover each season, or for it to at least be considered. Johnson’s contract was rolled over after last season to extend through the end of the 2014-15 season, but he didn’t get a raise from his $1.2 million salary.
It’s conceivable – quite possible – that there would not be an extension offered after the Tigers went 18-15 and lost in the first round of the NIT this season.
The 2011-12 season was an improvement over the previous two when LSU won 11 games each season and suffered through 2- and 3-win seasons in league play. In Johnson’s debut season in Baton Rouge, the Tigers rolled to an SEC championship with a 13-3 record (27-8 overall) and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before bowing out against eventual national champion North Carolina, 84-70.
Johnson is 67-64 in his four seasons at LSU and 226-185 in 13 seasons as a head coach.
Attempts to contact Johnson and LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva were unsuccessful.