So, Bob Hoffman wasn't going to South Florida.
Forgive my lack of surprise.
The thought here was Marquette made some sense. But Steve Wojotoomanylettersski got that job.
And Mercer folks breathed a little easier.
Stop breathing easier.
Tulsa may be open. And if Tulsa opens up, Hoffmanwatch returns.
Danny Manning is up for the Wake Forest job, reportedly has been offered it. If the Tulsa head coach bolts, expect a major push for Hoffman. Massive push. It's been ongoing.
As Tweeted on March 21 by Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World: "Mercer's Bob Hoffman wanted (Oral Roberts) job in 1999, Tulsa job in 2005 and OU job in 2006. Things didn't go his way, but the dude can coach."
Hoffman has puhlenty of love in the Oklahoma region - Tulsa World folks certainly like him - and there would be a serious push for him at Tulsa.
And yes, the dude can coach.
The guess here has been from the start of Mercer's run of the past few years: When Hoffman leaves, it will be west, that he'll try to get closer to home.
The good news for Mercer this month is that few of the openings have been attractive, or in the Midwest and plains states.
Until taking the Mercer gig, every job Hoffman had was in Oklahoma, Texas or Arkansas. Even his stint in the NBA's development league in McAllen, Texas, which is north of the Mexico border by 100 3-pointers and south of Dallas by 500 miles, was in the region.
Hoffmanwatch really got going - especially near home - during the trip to Raleigh with a column in the Tulsa World advising Oklahoma State to make its first call to Hoffman if it dumps Travis Ford.
Oklahoma State is about 65 miles from home.
Tulsa is all of 40 miles farther.
And those two figures are more important than what makes the accountant happy, because coaches aren't as obsessed with money as are those obsessed with other people's money.
So say Hoffman went to South Florida and made $800,000 or $900,000.
It would take him three seasons to get enough of a Hoffman roster to start being successful, and we'd start wondering what ever happened to Bob Hoffman. Gee, he had Mercer going so well.
Is a raise worth having a reputation go soggy?
Tulsa, a higher mid-major than Mercer, is a better fit. His name was mentioned the last time it was open, and the Bears played there a few years back.
So folks around here hope Manning stays. If he does, we'll be back here in 11 months.
Travis Ford probably has a year to make a jump at Oklahoma State, as per the aforementioned column. And if comes open ...
Regardless, Hoffman will remain a commodity, age 56 or not.
That shouldn't change in a year when Mercer - if the staff stays intact; if Doug Esleeck leaves, bets are off - takes the Southern Conference championship.
As for South Florida, Hoffman was wise to stop pursuing it, or he was lucky they did.
USF spent $100,000 on a search firm to hire an athletics director. They hired Mark Harlen.
And here's Harlen's first day: he interviewed two people, two whose stock rose substantially in the previous five days at the NCAA tournament.
Next day, hired one, and they signed a contract.
Before the day was over, the search firm found the deception in Steve Masiello's resume and the Bulls were again looking for a coach.
Yeah, a cluster.
Orlando Antigua - and and we won't count Masiello - is the program's fifth head coach since Bobby Paschal's finale in 1995-96. Seth Greenberg, Robert McCullum and Stan Heath followed.
USF hired a search firm before it fired Heath. Mercer has been more stable in that span.
USF has respectable facilities: a practice building with all the extra stuff that wastes money, and the Sun Dome is 34 years old, but underwent $35.6 million in renovations in 2011. The insides were basically gutted and redone, and it seats 10,000.
It looks pretty nice, frankly, like it would offer a noisy home advantage.
If folks showed up. They averaged 4,400 last season while going 12-20.
But this mess in hiring a coach doesn't inspire confidence, and frankly, Hoffman would have made a big-picture mistake trying for it, as you'll see within three years.
Other openings came and went.
Rice was a quality fit, filled. Houston was a decent fit, filled.
Marquette was a private religious school in a region that is much more basketball heavy. Enrollment is about 8,400 (on-campus traditional undergrads), in Milwaukee. The Warriors are in the Big East - until the next round of misguided realignment - and are already in a pretty good situation.
It would have been a good fit.
Wake Forest would have been a good fit, being a a private non-sectarian school in a region that has college basketball tradition. But Hoffman wasn't really going to be on that list.
Don't worry about: App State, Boston College, Florida Atlantic, IUPUI, Jacksonville, Marshall, Maryland-Eastern Shore, South Dakota, Tennessee State, UNC Wilmington.
But worry about Tulsa.