Dissecting the coaching situation

By now we've all heard Ben Howland's statements to the media on Monday. AND we've heard Marc Boehm, Pitt's interim athletic director, respond in his own statements.<br><br> Let's now look at what Howland really said.

"Over the weekend I met with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero and associate athletic director Betsy Stephenson to discuss their coaching position."

This means: I went to find out how much UCLA loves me.

"Given that my family roots are in California and my parents live there, I felt compelled to look at the potential opportunity."

 This means: UCLA is a dream job.

"I want to emphasize that I have a tremendous situation at the University of Pittsburgh."

This means: If I leave, its not because I don't love yinz guys.

"We are building something very special here and it would take an extraordinary set of circumstances for me to leave."

UCLA is prepared to give me an "extraordinary" offer with a ton of money, resources and love. The only question now is "How much does Pitt love me?"

It wouldn't be too easy to blame the situation on money. Howland is playing his cards and he'll come out a winner and oodles richer from the situation.

This is as much about being closer to his family as it is about loyalty to players. If it was about either of those things, Julius Page and the other players wouldn't have looked so upset after their meeting with the coach on Monday and Pitt wouldn't be working on another contract extension.

But that's what Boehm and his team are doing. Boehm expressed anger upon learning Howland would talk to UCLA without permission, but did Pitt have a choice in the matter?

This an A and B situation revolving around UCLA and Howland. Pitt doesn't even factor in at this point. If it did, Howland would have asked for permission.

Boehm is no dummy though. It's obvious he realizes that in the world of college basketball, Pitt still doesn't sit at the dinner table with the grown-ups. If it did, Boehm knows the situation would be totally different.

So Boehm is playing his cards right along in the game. He'll take upon the air of a director that refused all along to just let Howland leave and he'll say that Howland left without permission.

UCLA, if they haven't already (and I'm betting they have) will offer a huge buyout to Pitt to make Howland their new coach. Pitt will make a last-minute offer consisting of a ridiculous amount of money.

But it won't matter. The answer can be seen on the faces of Page and his teammates. Howland already told them. Let the new search begin.

John Biles

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