Although the title of this story specifically mentions the newly available Kansas State job, it is intended to be more of a blanket post that will cover 95% of the rumors about Buffaloes head coach Tad Boyle being a candidate for many of the new jobs that open that we'll consistently be bombarded with until Tad retires or moves onto another position.
The Mercury has learned from a significant source that Colorado head coach Tad Boyle is a front runner for #KState job.— Manhattan Mercury (@MERCsports) March 27, 2012
This type of thing should be expected anytime a Pac-12, Big 12 or B1G opening (among others) comes up as long as the Colorado program continues its current trajectory. Let's take a look at how realistic this rumor may be.
Kansas State saw head coach Frank Martin leave for what is almost universally considered a worse job at South Carolina after a whirlwind couple of days. When rumors first surfaced they were nervously laughed off, but things quickly escalated after talk of a frosty relationship between Martin and Athletic Director John Currie continued to grow stronger. Martin led the Wildcats to four NCAA Tournament appearances in five years, winning at least one game each time, and provided for a (relatively) seamless transition from the short Bob Huggins regime. Currie came to Kansas State from Tennessee and is rising star who will probably use K-State as a temporary stop before taking on a role with a larger department and as such, he has most likely been looking for a shot to make his first high-profile hire. By letting Martin walk, he is going to have an opportunity to put his stamp on the program, but replacing Martin's success won't be easy.
Martin is intense. He's fiery. But he's an old-school guy who isn't afraid to speak his mind. And he wins.
Martin's record was 117-54 and 50-32 in Big 12 play. There were those who questioned the hire after he was elevated following Bob Huggins' departure to West Virginia, insinuating the lone reason was to keep guys like Michael Beasley and Bill Walker. However, Martin proved he could coach. Really coach.
Without Beasley and Walker, he has gone to an Elite Eight and won five NCAA tournament games.
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, let's take a quick look at Boyle's background. He is a Greeley, Colorado native who played his college ball under Larry Brown at Kansas. As a player he reached two NCAA Tournament's and was the captain of Danny Manning's freshman year team. After leaving KU, Boyle coached at various Colorado high schools in a variety of roles. In 1994, former teammate Mark Turgeon helped him land his first collegiate coaching job, as a member of Jerry Green's Oregon staff. Boyle followed Green to Tennessee for a year in 1997 before joining back up with Turgeon at Jacksonville State and then Wichita State two years later. After six years on the Shockers' staff, Boyle landed his first head coaching job for his hometown Northern Colorado Bears. In four seasons in Greeley, Boyle took the team from a 4-24 record to a 25-8 mark and the school's first ever berth in the NCAA Tournament.
When Boyle became head coach of the Buffaloes he called it his "dream job". He and his family love the state of Colorado and the city of Boulder. In two years, he has taken the Buffaloes to the NIT semi-finals in Madison Square Garden and earned CU's first NCAA Tournament berth since 2003 while leading the team to back-to-back 24 win seasons for the first time in history. His run to the tournament earned him a ton of incentives that pushed his total compensation over the one million dollar mark.
The move to the Pac-12 conference has allowed Boyle to tap into the California recruiting pipeline. His first class included guards Spencer Dinwidde and Askia Booker, two players whose contributions to this season were irreplaceable. His 2012-13 class includes six players and is ranked the 22nd best in the country and the third best in the Pac-12 by ESPN. The class includes two members of the Rivals 150, with Colorado forward Josh Scott coming in at #65 and California forward Xavier Johnson making an appearance at #83. On top of all that he likely returns Andre Roberson, one the best defenders and rebounders in the country and a probable NBA-Draft pick.
Tad has seen a commitment to excellence from the school and athletic department; from his increased contract after year one, to the grand opening of a state-of-the-art practice facility, to the student section being sent to Los Angeles to root on the Buffs in the conference tournament. Would he want to give that up to head to a school where a winning coach was basically just pushed out? All of this is gravy on top of Boyle's admission of coaching at Colorado being his dream job, and his claim of being "a Colorado guy".
None of this guarantees that Boyle will remain in Boulder for his entire career. There are jobs, namely that one in Lawrence, that we have to believe he would consider. But I don't believe we should expect to see Tad leave for anything but a premier position. As the program continues to rise, these rumors and claims of Boyle being a candidate will only increase in frequency and caliber, and it's a new phenomenon (no, Bzdelik does not count) for fans of Colorado basketball (or football, for that matter) to have to deal with. But it's the price of success and we should feel nothing but pride that Tad Boyle is the man to lead Colorado basketball to the promised land.