There are few things less desirable in the normal routine of sports than coaching searches.
Athletics directors hate them because of general job searches, and of the raging speculation, silly standards from fan bases and the task itself.
Coaches hate them, because of the raging speculation and the need for semantic dances.
And the media hates them because of the raging speculation and semantic dances. It’s a process akin to tail chasing.
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Fans are OK with them because it's something else to yell into the darkness about.
Before Danny Manning took the Wake Forest job, Bob Hoffman's name was linked to Tulsa, along with about 10 more. Some names are gone, some new ones have appeared.
On the evening of April 15 and morning of April 16, the word from the Tulsa World was that Hoffman and Valaparaiso's Bryce Drew went from the top of the list to off the list.
Know this about coaching searches: Nobody is off any list until a press conference has been held and a wife has started looking at houses.
This is the Glen Mason/Bobby Cremins Clause. Both took jobs, were down, and changed their minds, Mason as football coach at Georgia and Cremins as basketball coach at South Carolina.
It happens, yet another reason for all to dislike coaching searches: knee-jerk and/or emotional decisions on both/either side.
You can bet safely that somebody is out if they flat out say, "I'm out, I am not interested in that job."
But coaches never say that. Well, Nick Saban said he wouldn't, eh, we know that story.
As of Wednesday, April 16 at 2 p.m., Tulsa still doesn't have a head coach and pretty clearly won't - to the angst of Golden Hurricane fans - by the end of the week.
Hoffman was in downtown Macon around lunchtime Wednesday for a ceremony involving Governor Nathan Deal and some congratulations for the season.
And then he readily admitted he was headed to the airport.
Dum dum dummmmm.
Alas, he was heading northeast to watch departing senior Langston Hall compete Wednesday night in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament in southeast Virginia. (And our afternoon game of phone tag began).
Hoffman has been mighty mum about the Tulsa opening, but make no mistake: The Oklahoman is interested in returning to Oklahoma.
He doesn’t have to say it publicly. It's common sense. He's coached in the state for 14 of his 21 seasons prior to Mercer. The other years were in Texas and Arkansas.
Born in Arkansas, he grew up in Oklahoma. His parents are in Oklahoma. His wife's parents are in Oklahoma.
That's his region.
Make no mistake. If Tulsa offers, he's gone. And until Tulsa offers and is accepted by somebody else and that Missus finds a house to her liking, Hoffman's still in the hunt.
Tulsa, to be honest, would be insane to ignore Hoffman.
For one, he wouldn't leave until retirement, which would make Tulsa happy. It's been a steppingstone for so long, yet is such a solid program, it hardly burps. But it’s tiring to change coaches every four years and wonder how much the program might rise with proper stability.
Shoot, look at what proper stability did with Hoffman at Mercer.
For another, he's well-liked on all levels in the state. With competition against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, at a minimum, any and all good pub helps a school of about 4,000.
For another, he's prepared for anything the job can throw at him, even moving into the American Athletic Conference.
Goodness, he was prepared for Mercer, and Mercer ain't Tulsa.
The Tulsa job will pay probably around $600,000, more than double (unofficially) Hoffman's current take. The program has been built to win for awhile.
There is no normal reason for Hoffman to not take it if offered.
And then get ready for a migraine of a search to replace him.
If Tulsa doesn't call, we might be back here in a year regarding Hoffman and Oklahoma State. Mercer won't have the same kind of season, but - especially if the staff stays intact - the Bears will be picked first or second in the Southern Conference (they'd be probably third or fourth in the A-Sun) and can without earth-shaking luck win 20 games again.
The wattage might be down a little bit in a year for Hoffman, but it'll still be pretty bright.
Until then, we wait and twist.
(Written a week ago and unfiled until now for no reason other than memory fumble):
Bob Hoffman and his wife Kelli are back in town from the Final Four.
Will they be heading out in the direction again in the next week or so?
One of the least enviable positions to be in over the weekend in Dallas was that of Tulsa athletics director Derrick Gragg.
Talk about stalked. The Final Four is where the nation's coaches gather, and it's one of the largest unofficial employment conventions around.
About 98 percent of those attending are either looking for a job, are up for a job, have a job opening, or just keeping their eyes and ears open for a possible opportunity.
Even if you're not looking and have nothing to offer anybody, you will be stalked.
And Cragg has a mighty attractive opening with a slew of mighty attractive candidates.
But all the weekend did for Cragg was allow him to set up official and unofficial interviews, so we can expect this search - again, with many good coaches to choose from - to last into next week.
So let's ponder the future of Bob Hoffman for a minute.
One thought from this seat for about a month, as folks ask about Hoffman staying, is to not assume that a move to another mid-major is out of the question.
Mercer's three-year run of 27, 24 and 27 wins has followed decades of mediocrity. Three such seasons doesn't erase that, nor has it opened floodgates of paying customers.
The perception from what we saw at the NCAA tournament doesn't match the reality of a mostly-empty or sedate student section as often as not.
Lots of nights, the library or laundromat must've been hoppin'.
Hoffman makes in the range of $250,000 by now, and will no doubt get a bump here once he and the school resume talking after the Final Four.
One would think.
But how much more can Mercer pay? His assistants need a bump as well, and note that home-game revenue with so many free tickets isn't much.
And football finances, make no mistake, are the priority at Mercer right now. That's a whole 'nother story, part of which means we are unlikely to see anything new for the highly successful baseball program for three or four more years. Unless pressure wins out.
Back to hoops.
The men's home schedule needs to improve, at least by playing fewer or no NAIA games, which means better mid-major home and homes, and not paying an Ivy League school a high five-figure check to come for homecoming.
And the tapdance involved in schedule has many partners.
But one thing about Hoffman and potential suitors is that moving to a higher mid-major isn't out of the question.
Hoffman may be interested in a job that yes, pays more - which is easier at a place that's not having to pour millions - literally - into a new football program and is in a region that is much more appreciative of quality basketball than the Southeast.
Yet again, news has been good for Mercer.
Ohio was an interesting proposition. The school ponied up $600,000 and did other things to get Jim Christian from TCU and show it was serious about hoops.
Yes, Ohio has football, but not money-sucking brand-new football. It's, well, money-sucking old football, but pretty successful football.
Ohio's arena was built in 1968, but also seats 13,080 and had 4,416 for Mercer's visit in November. The Bobcats averaged 6,124 last season in a town of 23,000 that's 40 miles from any city bigger: Parkersburg, W.Va., population of 31,000.
And the Bobcats have been to 13 NCAA tournaments as well as a regular participant in ESPN's Bracket Busters series.
Double the salary, coach in an area that's more basketball-friendly, and in a bigger arena, etc., and it's something to think about.
Good news for Mercer (not that there was ever a chance): Ohio hired North Dakota State's Saul Phillips only a few days after Christian left, and will pay him about $550,000 a year.
Phillips signed a contract extension last August paying him $175,000 a year with a raise of four percent depending on incentives reached.
So what's left?
Marshall: Apparently actually waiting for Mike D'Antoni? California: Nope. And that's about it, to be honest.
Reports from Tulsa are that Hoffman is currently considered on the A list, along with Southern Miss's Donnie Tyndall and Stephen F. Austin's Brad Underwood.
And that will have to play out before the next round of speculation begins.
(There, now we're updated).
ANOTHER UPDATE, WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON
No, Hoffman won’t be a serious candidate at Tennessee, and doubtfully if the Vols somehow snag Gregg Marshall from Wichita State.
Marshall makes about $2 mil a year, is a tournament lock and doesn’t – this just in, money and success and attention to be had at a school without football – have to deal with the headaches the Tennessee job brings.
Plus, the Vols have already apparently turned him down twice before.
There could be a trickle-down or trickle-over based on who Tennessee picks. Worth watching, as far as Hoffman is concerned: Colorado, Southern Mississippi, Dayton and Louisiana Tech.
Tech’s Michael White is apparently destined for the SEC at some point, most think Ole Miss. He just re-upped from about $500,000 a year to $600,000.
Southern Miss pays more, and Dayton is – like Tulsa – a very good basketball program in a basketball town. UD folks remember Hoffman from Mercer’s visit there a few years back.
Mercer had Bud Thomas from Colorado, so there is a slight connection - and at least good words - from that state, too.
Yeah, once this stuff starts, it never seems to end.