...and, no, it's not about the teams that are actually playing in the tournament. At least, most of the time it's not.
You see, the week after the first four rounds are completed, after the regional finals have been played, and as the final four teams are set is the time when the soap opera that is coaching comings-and-goings begins in earnest. And, we saw it play out on many fronts over the past 48 hours. Tony Bennett leaves Washington State to take the job at Virginia, thus ending speculation that Jeff Capel (Oklahoma) might have been interested in that slot. John Calipari, as expected, became linked with the Kentucky job. That then sent an undercurrent through the recruiting world--what would happen with high profile recruits Xavier Henry (signed Letter of Intent), DeMarcus Cousins (committed) and John Wall (heavy lean to Memphis?) And, what were we to make of the decision by Lance Stephenson, supposedly headed to Kansas, to wait to make his commitment?
Then, we learned that Georgia was making a strong play for Mike Anderson of Missouri. Local sports talk was in an uproar--could that be true? Or, could the rumors that Memphis would now be interested in Anderson become a reality?
Answers were delivered last night by the closure of the deal between Coach Cal and UK--he now becomes the highest-paid coach in college hoops. Anderson got a salary lift from MU and signed a seven-year deal with the Tigers. Meanwhile, schools like Georgia continue to look for their guy and Memphis now is in the coach-hunting market.
This will play out in earnest this weekend. The National Association of Basketball Coaches convention happens concurrently with the Final Four. And, the lobby of the coaches' hotel is the biggest male meat market in the country each April. Assistant coaches lobby for positions at other schools. Out-of-work coaches network. Ticket scalpers surreptitiously look for coaches willing to part with tickets (each coach gets a pair of tix to the Final Four.) And, fans and hangers-on pack the lobby to observe the who's who of basketball coaches.
Occasionally, the drama spills over and affects the teams that are playing--the 2003 "Roy Williams to North Carolina" being the best example. But, usually, the soap opera of this week involves those schools looking to find a way to join the the fun of the Final Four--the fun of actually participating on the court versus being a part of the drama occurring off the court.