Is Wright A Possibility?

As soon as word leaked that Herb Sendek was heading to Arizona State, Jay Wright's name was tossed around by Wolfpack fans.

In four plus seasons at Villanova, Wright has compiled a record of 96-56, rebuilding a program with a rich basketball tradition. In 2004-05 the Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988 and ended the season ranked No. 13 in the country. In 2005-06, the `Cats have won 20 of their first 22 games and been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches polls for every week of the season to date.

In 1994, Wright landed his first head coaching position. Hofstra University hired him to breathe life into a program that had struggled through the late 1980s and into the early part of the 1990s. Piece by piece, Wright transformed the Pride into a potent force in the America East Conference. This period was capped by a three-year run, which concluded in 2001, that saw Hofstra post a 72-22 (.766) record and make a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances.

Wright earned America East Coach of the Year honors in both 1999-2000 and 2000-01. He was also tabbed Eastern Basketball's Coach of the Year in 1999-2000.

A 1983 graduate of Bucknell University with degrees in economics and sociology, Wright was a four-year letterman in basketball. He earned both the Benton A. Kribbs Most Valuable Player and the Macolm E. Musser Leadership Awards as an undergraduate. Following graduation, Wright worked as an administrative assistant with the Philadelphia Stars football team that captured the 1983 United States Football League championship.

The product of Churchville, Pa., attended Council Rock High School. He is married to the former Patricia Reilly (Villanova class of 1983). The Wrights have two sons, Taylor (12), Colin (10), and a daughter, Reilly (6).

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: Wright, 44, is one of the hottest names in college basketball, recently being named Naismith Coach of the Year. If NC State wants to make a splash with a big-time hire, it doesn't get any better than Jay Wright.

Wright is a relentless recruiter, as his recent success is due to the senior class he recruited to Villanova. He would bring enthusiasm, passion, and a competitive nature to Raleigh, and he is a proven commodity in nearly every aspect.

A huge factor for NC State could be shoes... yes shoes. Wright and Villanova are sponsored by Adidas, and he has a nice deal with the shoe company to endorse their products. Like Wright, Herb Sendek was also affiliated with Adidas while at NC State. In fact, NC State is the only Adidas-affiliated school in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Expect the shoe company to try and maintain a presence in arguably the nation's best conference, and a way to do so is ensure that the next head coach is already sponsoring its product.

Finally, Wright might have the ego it takes to succeed at a program like NC State. With Duke and North Carolina right around the corner, the Wolfpack's new head coach will be competing against the best all of the time, and constantly compared to the two national powers. There have been reports that Wright has stated NC State is his dream job and he grew up a big fan of former Wolfpack head coach Jim Valvano, but those reports are unconfirmed.

What Makes Him a Longshot: Several reasons. Earlier this season, Wright inked a seven-year contract extension through the 2012-13 season, drawn up specifically to keep him at Villanova. The deal, which pushed his annual salary near 1 million dollars, was a smart move by Villanova.

"It made sense that we could get it done and just eliminate any speculation that might occur over the next six to eight weeks," Villanova AD Vince Nicastro said at the time of the extension.

Any program or professional team looking to lure Wright away would likely have to pay a hefty buyout just to get him out of this deal, and that's on top of locking him up for more than one million per year for the length of his contract.

Also, Wright's roots are in Pennsylvania and he really seems to enjoy coaching at the Big East school. Even if a program can come up with the coin, his ties to Villanova just might be too much to overcome.

Pack Pride's Take: Don't expect this one to happen. Wright's buyout may be too big, and he has strong ties to the Villanova program, as his wife is an alum of the university.

His name is being tossed around by a lot of fans who hope the Wolfpack can lure a big-time coach, but most media outlets aren't even speculating that he is a legitimate candidate.

In reports today he denied interest in the NC State or Oklahoma jobs, as he should at this point, stating he is happy at Villanova.

"I'm very happy and proud to be the head coach at Villanova," Wright told the Philadelphia Daily News.

There's a reason why his name is linked to nearly every high-major opening over the past two years. There are also several reasons why he has stayed at Villanova. He definitely seems happy to building a national power in his home state.

Villanova athletics contributed to this report


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