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Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports College Basketball Insider

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
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March 29, 2023 6:24 pm

Jon Rothstein, CBS Sports College Basketball Insider

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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March 29, 2023 6:24 pm

Jon Rothstein joined Zach to discuss the latest coaching hires and if Jim Larranaga could retire if Miami wins the national championship. 

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It does a great job as a content creator for FanDuel Sportsbook, and that is our pal, Jon Rothstein. Jon, appreciate the time. How are you? Great, Zach. Great to be with you. Well, I appreciate you coming on. I know probably most of my listening audience don't care, so this is a personal question right out of the gate, but being a grad of Temple, I saw you were all over this Charlton Young story where he's not going to be the coach.

What the heck happened today? Well, Zach, we'll start obviously with your alma mater. Charlton Young was offered the opportunity to be the head coach at Temple University. He talked over the offer and obviously the opportunity with his family, and Charlton Young, as you know, has some reservations initially just from not being from Philadelphia, understanding maybe the landscape as well as some other places. But he loves Temple.

He loves the brand. Obviously, he was familiar with the brand from John Chaney, but due to the resignation of Temple's president yesterday, Charlton Young opted to pull himself out of consideration for the head coaching vacancy at Temple. So, your alma mater, which you and I both grew up with, you know, really as one of the programs that was always associated really at the apex of college basketball, is in a critical period right now. You know, I have been very outspoken the last couple of years about how Temple's decision to prioritize its football program has really set back the men's basketball program. I know that intercollegiate athletics is driven by college football, but we are seeing now the result of the decisions that Temple's athletic department has made continue to weaken and really hurt the brand of the front porch of the university, which to me is the men's basketball program. Personally, I don't have a problem with them being in the American Athletic Conference over the A-10, but this is, you're right, a crucial time for Temple basketball because they've lost their identity and they have lost their way and it's a messy job. This is a mess, the president was a mess, and I'm just wondering who's going to come in and save it.

I don't think it's an attractive job. That's why I've been advocating for a young, hungry, kind of unproven coach who's going to be motivated in Adam Fisher. So, where do you think they pivot from here? He's definitely a name that was obviously under consideration before they shifted the focus of the search to Charles and Young, but to me, the problem that you have with Temple is for all intents and purposes, not so much the job, but the league that the job is in. Look, I understand what you're saying from the American Athletic Conference, but now you're in a scenario where a year from now, next season, Houston, Cincinnati, UCF are no longer in the league. So if you're Temple and you're trying to get your fan base excited, you are going to be looking at a schedule that has UAV, UPSA, North Texas, Rice, South Florida, Tulsa, Wichita State. That is a hard, hard sell if you're looking at a program that obviously has additional rivalries in the A-10.

But what's the appeal outside of being just closer to schools of the A-10 anymore? Because they only had one team in the tourney this year. But if Temple goes to the Atlantic 10, it automatically becomes a flagship program for that conference. It becomes one of the best jobs in that league. All of a sudden, you start to see Temple, VCU, Dayton, St. Louis as programs that can anchor an entire league.

I mean, you know your history, John F. Kennedy said it best, the rising tide lifts all boats. If Temple were to prioritize his basketball and was in the Atlantic 10, I don't just think the program would be more successful, but you'd be in a situation where I think you could attract really, really qualified candidates to be the steward of this program. And look, Fran Dunphy, who stopped coaching at Temple in 2019, led the Owls to two NCAA tournament appearances in his last four years. Temple isn't just a little bit away from going to two NCAA tournaments in the last four years.

It's almost like the first scene of Star Wars in a galaxy a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. That's what Temple basketball is right now from the NCAA tournament. Well, this is a depressing conversation so far with one of my favorites in John Rothstein. Let me ask you about Penn State. They have hired Mike Rhodes. That's officially announced.

I know you're all over that story. What does Mike bring to Penn State once they've lost Micah Shrewsbury? Mike's a proven coach. Mike, I think, is made for the Big Ten.

He's a Pennsylvania native. He will obviously understand the infrastructure of that job. I think Mike, like he did at VCU, will be able to get his team to overachieve. And I think, again, he will fit right in with the fabric of the Big Ten. So I think this is an outstanding hire for Penn State and Pastor Kraft. This was the right hire.

Would they really ever have a shot to keep Micah Shrewsbury? Was it just inevitable that he was going to go to Notre Dame? Penn State was going to make a large financial commitment to Micah Shrewsbury if he stayed as the head coach of Penn State. But I think when you look at the landscape of things and you look at the ACC right now, there has never been a better time to be a head coach in the ACC than right now. You've got a period of transition at Duke. You've got a period of transition at North Carolina.

Jim Bayon just retired. Virginia has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2019 when it won the national title. And Florida State, who was at the top of this league from 2016 to 2021, has missed the last two NCAA tournaments.

Take all those things into consideration. Take also into consideration that Micah Shrewsbury is from Indiana and can obviously play a similar brand of basketball at Notre Dame like we saw this year at Penn State, and I think it was too much to pass off. I'm glad that you mentioned Duke and UNC. We know Duke was expected to be a big player in this tourney, and they didn't go as far as the people expected. UNC was in the championship game last year, missed the tourney this year. What's the future of those two blue bloods with what you see now with Coach Davis and Coach Shire?

I'm working on my rough-scene 45 for after the national championship game. I'm going to be updating it every day with the transfer portal, with transfers, with guys coming along from the NBA draft, but North Carolina will not be ranked in the top 25. And Duke, which obviously is going to bring in some really good young talent, has some guys returning, is not obviously probably going to be in the top 10 because Duke's going to lose. We anticipate both Kyle Tsiolkowski and Derek Lively to ring white-headed nouns today, so I think John Shire did a great job at Duke this year, obviously not the ending that you want, but there is a different feel now at the top of the ACC. No Boeheim, no Roy Williams, no Mike Krzyzewski, Virginia hasn't won an NCAA tournament game since 2019, new coach at Notre Dame, there's a lot in transition right now in the ACC, but ironically enough, and I wrote this today in my daily column, The Breakfast Buffet, Miami is becoming a flagship program in the ACC because of what we're seeing from the Hurricanes. Look at last year. You go to the Elite Eight, you have a lead against Kansas, the eventual national champion at the half.

Kansas played pound for pound inference, the best half I've seen it in play in nearly 20 years on this beat, you lose, there's no shame in that. You lose Charlie Moore, you lose Cam Agusti, you lose Sam Wordenberg as a stretch five, and the Hurricanes take things a step further this year and make it to the Final Four. If Larranaga wins these next two games, take down UConn and then defeats the winner of FAU San Diego State, you think there's a chance he retires? Common sense would say that, but if Jim Larranaga retires, what is he going to do? He just signed a new contract. He's in a situation where he told me he wants to finish out his new contract before he opts to retire.

There are still years on that, and I understand going out as a champion, but he also wants something to do every day if he loves coaching. Look right now at this Miami team, Zach. You've got a team, obviously, that is dynamic in the backcourt, that's got more guards than Shawshank. Isaiah Wong can come back, obviously, for an additional year of eligibility.

You can get back Nigel Pack, you can get back Bensley Joseph and Walter Poplar, and you can get back Norchat O'Mear. We've got a scenario where Miami could be right back in the same situation next season. How about the future of Villanova? One year removed without Jay Wright, Kyle Neptune, their head coach. As pivotal a spring recruiting period as Villanova has had in a really long time.

Now, why do I say that? Obviously, Murphy's loss hit Villanova this year. We know that. We understand that. There were injuries to Justin Moore and Cam Whitmore.

Jordan Lanzino had injuries. We understand all of that, and that affected Villanova's opportunity to be the best team it could be. But you're looking at the Big East right now, and you're looking at a conference that is getting progressively better.

We have one team in the Final Four in Yukon. Sean Miller's back at Xavier. Shockett Smart's bringing back everybody at Marquette. Creighton should be right back in the top ten to start the preseason. And the school that made the best hire of the coaching carousel was a school that hasn't won an NCAA tournament game in 23 years. And that's St. John's by hiring Rick Pitino, who is pound for pound, the best coach in the sport today, not named Bill Self. So now all of a sudden, all those teams are going to be projected to finish ahead of Villanova. And I just mentioned Ed Cooley, who now, after taking Providence to seven of the last nine NCAA tournaments, is going to be attached to a significantly more powerful brand than he was in his native Rhode Island at Georgetown.

Wrap it up with Jon Rothstein on the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio. We know the Big Ten sent eight teams to the tournament. They only had one make it to the Sweet Sixteen. They don't have a national championship since Michigan State.

What was that, in the early 2000s? How do you kind of look at the Big Ten right now? Well, I think when you look at the Big Ten, we know obviously the volume is there to get a lot of teams in the NCAA tournament. But the facts are the facts, Zach. Big Ten in the last three years, 26 teams in the NCAA tournament, one has made the Elite Eight.

That tells you all you need to know from a percentage standpoint. And look, there has been a lot of talk about the dynamics that are going to be presented when UCLA and USC join the Big Ten in the year. I think you could make the argument now that UCLA and USC has got the number one point guard in the country coming to next year, but UCLA has become a perennial top five, top ten team under Mick Cronin. They went to three straight Sweet Sixteens, obviously went to the Final Four two years ago.

They are going to help the Big Ten in terms of having a formidable contender that is proven in the NCAA tournament. That's enough something to keep an eye on as we flip the page here in another season. Looking like Grant McCaslin is going to wind up with Texas Tech. That's been the expectation everywhere. Your reaction to that move, assuming it goes down.

Logical move. Grant McCaslin has done a great job at North Texas. I think obviously if he is not the head coach at Texas Tech, it would be a major, major surprise. But when you get in the Big 12 and you add Houston and you add Gaines in Pro Bowl on the road, and BYU, and you add Cincinnati to an already loaded conference, you better be ready to come in firing and firing at a high level if you're Texas Tech because you have had Tubby Smith won a national championship, Chris Beard went to a title game, and Mark Adams went to a Sweet Sixteen. So I think Grant McCaslin is the logical choice at Texas Tech, but he will have his work cut out.

And as any coach who wins the Big 12. What's going to decide FAU San Diego State on Saturday evening? How can FAU handle San Diego State's physicality?

And here's another thing that is really interesting when I think about this game here, Zach. San Diego State has beaten Alabama, the number one of number one seed, and Creighton back to back. Matt Bradley, the best player on San Diego State from an offensive perspective, has only scored a combined eight points and has shot three of 17 from the field. That tells me San Diego State does not need its star to play at an elite level to beat some of the best teams in this tournament. If Matt Bradley can get back into an offensive rhythm, I think the Aztecs got a great chance to be playing Monday night. UConn has been as dominant as Baylor was a few years ago in this tournament.

They've just gone on these incredible stretches of just great 20-minute runs in this tournament. UConn, Miami, you all know what Miami did to get here, coming on back against Texas, and we know how loaded Miami is. What type of game do you expect between UConn and Miami?

Really competitive. I don't think Miami has an answer for UConn's depth. I don't think Miami has an answer for UConn's size, but somewhere along the way here, UConn is going to have to deal with the four-guard look that Miami presents, and that means that Alex Caravan or somebody playing the four spot is going to have to guard a Jordan Miller, is going to have to guard a Wiggett Poplar.

That, to me, is the big key. And you're also going to have to see if Miami's guards, who have had some great shooting performances in this NCAA tournament, can go over the top of UConn's defense. Last thing I'll ask you, Jon Rothstein, before we let you run, when it comes to people that get excited for this tournament from a media standpoint, it's you, Jon Fanta, and then also Bill Rafferty in whatever order you want. When you hear people talk about this Final Four, you being one of those guys that are so excited when it comes to college basketball and this tourney, and you hear people go, oh, the Final Four's going to suck because FAU and San Diego State's in it. This isn't going to be a good Final Four.

How do you respond to people that say that? Florida Atlantic was picked fifth in the Conference USA preseason polls. Florida Atlantic won 32 combined games in the two years prior to this one.

It now has 35 wins. San Diego State, prior to this NCAA tournament, did not have an NCAA tournament win under Brian Dutcher. And so much has been made about the fact that we are seeing a continuous level of separation between power conferences and non-power conferences. The NCAA tournament tells you that that does not determine what is going to happen in the greatest event in sports. We've got one team from Conference USA. We've got one team from the Mountain West in the Final Four. And on the other side, you've got a UConn team that all of a sudden is now being looked at as a heavy favorite to win this thing, and it was a four seed who was now projected as a top 16 seed during the mock bracket reveal in February. And you've got a Miami fan, okay, that lost three starters from an Elite Eight team last season. This is not Duke. This is not Carolina. It's Miami. So what's my answer for those people, Zach?

It's real simple. The optics are what the optics are, but you have to embrace the unexpected. And college basketball is where the unexpected becomes the ordinary.

And remember, when you see a team pick Sisk in Conference USA and make the Final Four, and when you see a team who doesn't have an NCAA tournament win under a head coach from the Mountain West make the Final Four, you just have to remind yourself, it's not anarchy, it's just college basketball. Planning a wedding can be intimidating, but finding the perfect suit shouldn't be. Indochino makes it easy to get a custom suit right from home. Fine tune every detail and design a suit tailored perfectly to your body and your personality, starting at just $4.99. Get a wedding suit as unique as you with Indochino. Go to Indochino.com and use code PODCAST to get 10% off any purchase of $3.99 or more. That's Indochino.com Promo Code PODCAST.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-01 10:40:55 / 2023-04-01 10:48:21 / 7

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