Brad Stevens: Staying at Butler Remains Best Option for Coveted College Coach
It's easy to see why Brad Stevens would be an intriguing option for prominent college basketball programs searching for a new head coach. It's much tougher to understand why Stevens would take one of those high-pressure jobs after what he's built at Butler.
The latest program to come calling was UCLA, which fired Ben Howland after being eliminated from the NCAA tournament. Stevens decided against taking the Bruins job, although he didn't completely close the door on leaving, according to a report from ESPN:
A source close to the situation said Friday that Stevens will remain at Butler despite being the top target in UCLA's search for a new men's basketball coach.
In an earlier text message to ESPN, Stevens reaffirmed his coaching status at Butler, but he also left the door slightly ajar by saying he would not comment on "any other speculation or situation."
Given Stevens' success with the Bulldogs, there's a strong chance UCLA will be far from the last team that attempts to coax him away from Butler. Yet the risks far outweigh the reward for the 36-year-old head coach.
The Bruins are a perfect example of why. The coach they just let go, Howland, made three Final Four appearances in 10 years leading the program, including a trip to the national title game. His team won 25 games and made the tournament this season.
He was still let go. His last Final Four, which came during the 2007-08 season, was no longer enough to save him at a program that expects greatness every season.
Stevens wouldn't be immune from those sky-high expectations simply because he would be a high-profile hire. If anything, his success at Butler would lead to even higher standards wherever he landed next. People would expect instant results.
It's just not UCLA, of course. It goes for any major college team with a rich basketball tradition, which are usually the ones seeking coaches like Stevens to reinvigorate the the program.
Instead, he can stay at Butler, where he's acquired some faith from the fanbase based on the continued success. It gives him some leeway if the team has a down season or a certain year's recruiting class doesn't rank highly.
Those are little things at Butler because he's proven capable of building a winning team. They would be major issues at a bigger program. His every move would be scrutinized.
What's the best move for Stevens?
The other main reason staying with the Bulldogs makes the most sense is the team's move to the Big East. The Bulldogs are one of three new members that will join the revamped conference, which will be basketball heavy.
Although it will take some time to see exactly where the conference slots, it should still be one of the best overall conferences in college basketball. And Stevens didn't even have to change jobs to land in it.
Stevens has done terrific work at Butler. Leaving for another job just for the sake of proving himself or a larger salary wouldn't be the best long-term move.
Unless another program comes along with a truly impossible-to-refuse offer, Stevens is best off staying right where he is.
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