Sounding Off On Painter/Zo/Burke/Mizzou

If you follow us, you probably know we don't like off-season drama. From the NFLPA negotiating a deal to players taking too long to decide whether they should stay in college or leave for the league, this stuff is what we hate about sports.

We love the emotion within the game, the build-up before a game, of course the struggle within the contest and even the adjustments and quest for something greater during the season...but what we're in the middle of right now stinks...for everybody. That said, it's bound to happen.

Izzo was wooed by the NBA...and in our opinion, he handled that poorly by not making his decision in a timely manner. The result of his weeks of waffling might be what we saw this season- a team that was disjointed and results that really made no sense- MSU struggling game-in, game-out versus less-capable teams and an overall mediocre result. Sure, guys got injured, players flaked for one reason or another, but that team wasn't at all what we expect from Izzo and Sparty.

Billy Donovan's Florida squad won back-to-back national titles and then decided to move on to the NBA...only to apologize and come back to Florida. The fallout of his waffling was three seasons of teams that weren't even close to being contenders.

To a lesser degree, Thad Matta coached Xavier to very successful seasons, his final ended in the round of eight in the NCAA tourney. After all but promising his return to X, Matta moved onto greener pastures in Columbus. Everything worked out well for all parties involved in the end- Xavier got Miller, aOSU got a guy willing to play ball the way the Buckeye athletic department likes to do things...but a lot of Xavier fans still see red when they see Matta as they believe he handled it poorly.

Brad Stevens, who I officially have a mancrush on, knocked down interest from Oregon and ACC programs by simply staying put and taking what Butler was willing to pay...no where near what he would have gotten elsewhere, but I think Stevens thought himself a good fit for that athletic department. Keep in mind, he's a Depauw grad, not a Butler grad. But Butler allowed him to move up quickly (7 years) from unpaid assistant coach to 80+% winning Head Coach. Who knows what this off-season holds...but I guarantee sizable satchels of greenbacks will be hurled in Stevens general direction until he makes it stop...yet again.

When you make runs at national championships, win with consistency, and turn around programs, people notice...and coaches get massive offers to coach at the next level or get offers to up their salaries and prestige while taking the elusive next step in their careers. And there is absolutely a right and wrong way for these off-season issues to be handled.

The problem of handling this issue isn't that of the schools or entities doing the wooing, it's the job of the current employee and employer's to throw water on the embers of rumors. So where does Purdue & Painter stand right now?

Well, as of this point, there's really no damage that's been done. Since all of these rumors arose, Painter spent a deserved vacation with a 7 foot tall mouse and his wife and kids. The rumors have turned into official interest as Mizzou has pretty much said it only has eyes for Matty publicly proclaiming that they only have officially contacted one coach.

To make matters scarier, leaks from Mizzou's athletic department say they're expecting to announce their new head coach either Tuesday or Wednesday. That's either brazen or foolish, depending on the outcome. But before we connect the dots that are lined up, let's look at a few things.

First, this is the same Missouri athletic department that showed all of his cards and its interest in the BT months ago when rumors were swirling about what was coming next from Delany and company. Mizzou was left with its foot in its mouth and a weak B12 affiliation when the music stopped. Who knows how the feelings were reciprocated by the BT's office, but we know Missouri wears its heart on its sleeve and isn't the most politically-savvy organization in the world...but who can blame them in either case for wanting to be out of the B12 or wanting Matty as their head coach? Nobody. But, their tact might be even more in question if this most recent chapter doesn't work out in their favor.

Let's now shift our gaze to Purdue's athletic department and specifically, Morgan Burke. As these rumors have gained heat and speed, we haven't heard a public peep from Burke and co. I don't know why it would hurt them to just come out and say, "We're doing everything to insure Painter will be back at Purdue next year." Whatever that means, I think it might ease some of the angst among the Purdue faithful...but that's not Burke and his department's style. They run things quietly and pretty old fashioned. Most recently, when the Barlow issue arose, nothing was ever officially released from the department or the two most-important people involved in the decision (Burke/Painter). Instead, they handled it internally...and maybe that's what's happening now. (I do understand that these are different issues, by the way.)

Matt Painter is not Tom Crean. He doesn't tweet, he doesn't high five fans, heck, he doesn't even get excited as officials are reaming his players (time and time again). So Coach Painter not publicly responding makes sense. And really, his response might make more sense than anyone's in this situation. He's on vacation, it's not time to address the media. He and his staff are underpaid, so letting these rumors catch fire only helps him in any potential negotiations. And honestly, he doesn't owe anyone anything at this point. While he's the face of Purdue basketball, his position is not as much of a PR post as is Burke's or Alden's.

The layers of responsibility should go like this, if you're a Purdue fan: Burke needs to keep Painter in West Lafayette by offering him his fair market value and giving his staff the same. Burke defended himself as recently as late Fall saying that Purdue pays coaches what they deserve to be paid and what they've earned. By that admission, since Painter's teams haven't finished outside the top-2 in the league in the last four years, and ticket sales show it, he probably should be paid, at minimum, as a top-4 coach in the league...not eighth. If someone wants to throw an unusually-high amount of money at Painter (say $2.5million +) and Burke doesn't think that's his market value, so be it. But he'd better be willing to get an equally-established coach to do the job in that case, not a cheap option, to continue the basketball program's momentum.

The next layer of responsibility should be Painter's. When he was hired at Purdue, he had a very thin resume...but was given a good (albeit odd) job to follow Keady. So he should feel some sense of loyalty to Purdue. That loyalty, in my opinion, means giving Purdue the chance to keep him and make a push for him. He doesn't really owe Purdue the luxury of underpaying him. He doesn't owe them the right to not give him a fair market dollar amount to spend on his coaches and support staff. If Purdue can't, or worse, refuses to, come to the table with competitive compensation and terms, they only have themselves to blame.

Painter and Cuonzo Martin's agent Buddy Baker seem to have all the cards right now...and we as fans/alums really know nothing. Baker knew enough to direct Martin toward the NCAA sanction-laden program of Tennessee instead of waiting for this whole situation to work itself out. We'll know in the coming week what that actually means...as of now, we're all just guessing what is coming next.

But, as soon as we hear something concrete, I can guarantee you that we will post our reaction.

All In. (Painter's Poker Game Nearing its End)

A Look at Matty and Mizzou

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