With our dumpster fire of a basketball season mercifully over, it seems the "sweepstakes" for Ben Howland have begun.
Just to remind you, it was almost exactly two year ago that DePaul tried to lure Howland's services after his losing season. The conversations at the time were more than just casual chatter. Obviously that never came to fruition, and it remains to be seen whether that was just a ploy for contract negotiations (let's face it, it's pretty easy to swindle Chianti Dan).
Over the last few years we have had an inkling that a return to the Big East might make sense for Howland, a chance to get back to the tough, grinding style of basketball which seems to be his preference (though you wouldn't know from the last four years...).
We even discussed UConn as a possible landing spot for Howland, if Calhoun decides to retire from coaching given his health issues and other NCAA issues facing him.
But it seems another potential suitor may be after Ben Howland.
Nebraska has entered the fray as a possible destination for Howland.
From Corn Nation (Nebraska's blog on SBN):
Ben Howland, UCLA. One month ago, this would have seemed patently absurd and ridiculous. But a Sports Illustrated expose about players out of control may put pressure on both Howland and UCLA to separate. And Howland may be looking for an escape to a place with fewer, um, distractions than Hollywood. And with a familiar face like Marc Boehm in Lincoln, you never know. But would Osborne want to bring somebody in who's been accused of not doing things the right way? From a basketball perspective, this would be an incredible get.
It does seem that people close to Howland were indeed contacted, though it is unclear how warm he is to the idea.
But considering that, in a move to Nebraska, Howland would get:
- a chance to build a program, something at which he seems to be good
- a chance to play in a major basketball conference
- a chance to recruit hard working kids without the distractions of a big city
it is not that crazy of an idea and it might end up being an attractive option. I wouldn't call it a step "down" so much as a step "away", in his case...regardless, it is imperative that, if he were to leave, Chianti Dan should not be around to make the next hire.