NCAA Basketball: Lon Kruger Surprises UNLV and Accepts Oklahoma Job.

Mick AkersAnalyst IApril 1, 2011

TULSA, OK - MARCH 18:  Head coach Lon Kruger of the UNLV Rebels looks on from the sidelines during the second round game against the Illinois Fighting Illini in the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at BOK Center on March 18, 2011 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Just two days after UNLV coach Lon Kruger said his job at UNLV would be his last coaching job and that he would stay despite the rumors Oklahoma, NC State and Utah all threw offers his way, Oklahoma's persistence in acquiring Kruger has paid off as The Gridlocks radio show on ESPN 1100AM in Las Vegas confirmed that Kruger has all but signed on the dotted line to become the Oklahoma Sooners next head coach.

Kruger told multiple media outlets in Las Vegas that he would be staying at UNLV—it even was the lead story on the sports page on Friday's Review Journal in Las Vegas.

As news of Krugers departure spread, everyone first thought was that this was a cruel April Fools joke. As major media outlets such as Fox Sports started to publish stories on Kruger heading over to Oklahoma the surprising news began to settle for the Rebel fan base.

Lon Kruger has had a successful tenure while at UNLV. With an overall record of 161-71 and four NCAA tournament appearances, including the Rebels Sweet 16 run back in the 2006-07 season, his spot on the bench will be hard to replace.

Aside from what he has meant to UNLV on the court he has also done tons off the court for the Las Vegas community with various charity appearances and the annual coaches versus cancer golf tournament.

Kruger earned about $1.2 million at UNLV per season and Oklahoma has put a reported $2.2 million per-year contract on the table. Apparently that was too much to turn down, even after assuring the Rebel faithful they would see him back on the Rebels bench come fall.

With the shock beginning to wear off, UNLV has to now set their sights on who will replace a coach who had the city of Las Vegas as interested has it has been since coach Jerry Tarkanian led UNLV to it's one and only national championship.

At the top of UNLV's list of possible candidates are former NBA and UNLV standout Reggie Theus and BYU assistant coach Dave Rice, who was a member of UNLV's championship team back in 1990.

Theus has had a fairly successful coaching career in the college ranks. He led the New Mexico State Aggies to the NCAA tournament in 2007 and had an overall record of 41-23 in his two seasons there.

Every year as the Rebels were bounced early from the big dance or as in the 2008-09 season failing to reach the NCAA tournament grumblings of fire Kruger would come out from fans here and there, hire Theus. Well their wishes might come true, but not in the fashion they all hoped for.