Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Thoughts on Gregg Marshall and his coaching future

Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall shows his enthusiasm after Wichita State fought back to take a one-point lead over Notre Dame last week in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Cleveland. The lead didn’t last; Notre Dame rallied for an 81-70 win.
Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall shows his enthusiasm after Wichita State fought back to take a one-point lead over Notre Dame last week in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Cleveland. The lead didn’t last; Notre Dame rallied for an 81-70 win. The Wichita Eagle

Speculating is fun, if ultimately unsatisfying.

What is Gregg Marshall going to do?

There’s a #staygregg movement underway among Wichita State basketball fans, who are sick at the thought of Marshall leaving for Alabama or Texas, the two schools with men’s basketball coaching openings that seem to make the most sense and provide the biggest threat.

Who knows what Marshall is thinking? His wife. Some other family members. And that’s probably about it.

Marshall reportedly met for eight hours Monday with Alabama athletic director Bill Battle in Wichita, and we can only assume that Battle fought hard to convince Marshall to move to Tuscaloosa. I’ve never met with anyone for eight hours, so I’m not sure how that went.

Eight hours?

I will say that if Alabama sent its 73-year-old AD to Wichita and he spent eight hours with Marshall and offered him more than $3 million per year for six years, as has been speculated, then it’s going to look really bad if ‘Bama doesn’t get its man.

Everybody wants to know what Marshall is going to do. Now.

It’s the age in which we live. Twitter is supposed to tell us these things. What the heck is wrong with Twitter?

We used to be able to wait on situations like this to crystallize. We used to understand that it might take Marshall some time to ponder his future and come to an informed and educated opinion on the best situation for him and his family.

Instead, he’s being pestered on social media to make up his mind. It’s nice pestering, but pestering nonetheless.

Shocker fans love Marshall. Until he takes another job, that is. Then they’ll still love him, but not with quite the gusto they loved him when he was their coach. That’s how this stuff works.

Marshall could have a Top 10 or Top 15 team at Wichita State next season. But there are some quantifiers there. Ron Baker has to come back for that to be the case. Fred VanVleet has to come back for that to be the case. The Shockers probably need to find another big man to add to the mix for that to be the case.

There are also reports that Texas is targeting VCU coach Shaka Smart to replace the recently-departed Rick Barnes, who has landed on his feet at a new UT – Tennessee.

Barnes is an outstanding coach who had worn out his welcome. He had been labeled an underachiever, and there’s no worse label for a coach whether it’s accurate or not.

Smart and Marshall are over-achievers, having taken their “mid-major” programs on amazing journeys over the past several seasons. Both have been to Final Fours and schools like VCU and Wichita State aren’t supposed to get to Final Fours. The odds are stacked to the heavens against them doing things like that.

Smart’s VCU teams have won at least 26 games six seasons in a row and went to the Final Four in 2011. He was too hot to touch after that season but the Rams haven’t gotten out of the first round of the NCAA Tournament the past two seasons.

Marshall led Wichita State to an NIT championship in 2010-11, then followed that up with an NCAA Tournament appearance, a Final Four, a 35-0 run and a Sweet 16 that went through Kansas, which the Shockers hadn’t played in 22 years.

You couldn’t fit Marshall’s resume on the side of a side of a box car. He’s an incredible candidate for any coaching position. Just one thing: Nobody can get him to leave.

It’s not for lack of trying. Some pretty good programs have come calling for Marshall in recent years with brief cases full of money and he’s politely told them “No thanks.’

Is Alabama the school that breaks through? Texas?

Is it mostly about money or prestige or conference affiliation? What, exactly, is it about?

I’ve been asked frequently about what I expect to happen. Like many of you. And, also like many of you, I’m just guessing.

Having been involved in reporting on coaching situations for many years, my read is that Marshall is weighing his options today and could well make a decision Wednesday.

Alabama has made its pitch. Texas may have done so, too, just more covertly, although it’s looking more and more like the Longhorns are looking elsewhere.

Marshall does love Wichita State and Wichita. So does his wife, Lynn, which may be even more important. If he decides to leave, he will do so grudgingly and with great consternation.

I’ve contended all along that Marshall would not leave WSU for Alabama, regardless of how much money is being offered. The eight-hour meeting, though, does give me some pause. But not enough to back off what I’ve thought all along – that Marshall will decided to stay at Wichita State. Where he’s happy and where he’s made everyone else happy.

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