Is he going for pensive or thoughtful? (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
It is Sunday Night and the rumor that we all hate just won't die. I am trying to just rest and get over another basketball season that ended in disappointment. I am still upset my Kats lost yesterday, but The Season That Came Up Short Just won't go away. A week ago at this time we were wondering if we were going to the Final Four. Now we're wondering who will coach next season.
Yes, even though I haven't written on the subject yet I aware of the Matt Painter to Missouri rumors. I haven't written because I thought they were ludicrous when I first heard them. To me, there was no way he would leave his alma mater. We had a Purdue guy, hand picked by the man that coached him. He has had success so far with multiple 20-win seasons, a pair of Sweet 16's, and both a regular season and Big Ten Tournament championship in six years after taking of a program that was in the Big Ten basement. In four of his five seasons of making the NCAA Tournament he was eliminated by a team that went on to the Final Four, so he was at least going out to good teams. He revived the program and, with some incoming recruits, appeared to be set for the long haul. In fact, I even boasted that as long as he stayed as coach we would reach a Final Four within the next ten years.
Instead, we have Rock M Nation talking about having Matt painter as a candidate. That may not seem like news, but when these SBNation sites are being used as a source to find out about fan reaction, there is at least a modicum of credibility there. Then Gold and Black mentioned that he had been contacted and he was the primary target. This, of course, has set every pro-Purdue twitter account on fire today.
What makes it hard to write about is that we don't know much for sure. We do know Painter is one of the lower paid coaches in the Big Ten and that Missouri is likely offering north of $2 million per year. Considering what other coaches in this league get paid, what Painter is currently making, ($1.3 million guaranteed as Purdue's highest paid employee) and the value we're getting out of that money, Purdue has high value right now.
That means the crux of this matter lies with Painter's desires. Does he want to make a cash grab for what is a lateral move at best, or does he want to stay true to his alma mater? In just six years he has accomplished everything he can except for reaching a Final Four and winning a national title. One could argue that is not his fault, but the Mayan Demon Blood of Lost Souls Wood of The Barn for snapping Rob's ACL.
In this poker game I was like many in thinking that our safety blanket was Cuonzo Martin, another former player and assistant who just completed a successful season at Missouri State. It was assumed that he would take over if Painter departed. Of course, that was before the news broke that Martin was headed to Tennessee.
In that past 24 hours I have spoken with Bryan Gaskins, my editor at the Kokomo Tribune and a fellow Purdue alum. Last night he told me he had a bad feeling about the Painter situation, but that is far from anything definite. Seconds ago I receive and e-mail from him with the headline "WE'RE SCREWED" announcing that Martin was hired.
To me, this was a key piece taken off the table because everyone knew Martin was going to be the top target if Painter left. Athletic Director Morgan Burke has been known to be a frugal AD, seeking a cheaper, but not as proven hire rather than a big splash. This has worked out in making Purdue one of the few athletic departments in the country that operates in the black, but it has led to frustration because some elements of the fanbase believe it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. With Painter, it worked. With Danny Hope, stay tuned. Going after Martin, a young coach that would be getting his first major conference job, would be the cheap alternative.
Now we enter the most dangerous game, where our likely top choice as a replacement is off the board and the rumors of Painter to Missouri won't go away. Personally, I don't think he'll go. Those are my random blogger's thoughts, however. I love Purdue enough that as an alum, I wouldn't want to leave if they gave me job. Of course, the equivalent would be the Bleacher Report offering me $50,000 per year to blog for Missouri, a school I have absolutely no connection to. It pays better than what I am doing now, but not enough that it is a no brainer.
It is clear that this is up to Painter himself. If he leaves, half the fanbase will hate him for abandoning us in a cash grab, while the other half will hate Burke for not paying to keep him around. Unfortunately, this won't be put to rest until Painter himself speaks.