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[UPDATE x3 with Howland comments] ESPN: DePaul "Offered A Whopping, Multi-year Deal" To Ben Howland

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Remember that fanshot from few days ago (that immediately generated reactions of total denial and disbelief). Well it is little more than a rumor now courtesy of ESPN's Pat Forde):

DePaul has also been mentioned as a potential landing place for Theus, but there has been a rotating array of names there. The biggest: UCLA's Ben Howland, rumored to be offered a whopping, multi-year deal.

So looks like word is going around that Howland has been in negotiations with DePaul. The story is already percolating in Kentucky (per John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader):

Wild rumor going around that UCLA coach Ben Howland could be headed to DePaul, where the Chicago school is supposedly offering big bucks. If Howland bites on the Chicago dough, then guess the name some are using in the same sentence with the Bruins? That’s right. Rick Pitino.

I will leave it at that for now. Something is definitely up. There is little more than smoke at this point and it is getting a little interesting.

GO BRUINS.

UPDATE (N): Tracy Pierson on BRO just posted a story. It has the following teaser (emphasis added):

It might all seem like just vacuous rumors, but we now have heard from enough reliable sources about whether UCLA Head Basketball Coach Ben Howland is, in fact, contemplating leaving UCLA...

You have to read the story for the entire scoop but suffice to say everything points to more than just a rumor at this point. Obviously this kind of story needs a lot more analysis but we are going to withhold from offering any reaction right now. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE II (N): Via email from Marc Dellins at UCLA Ben Howland issued the following:

"I am the coach at UCLA. I will never leave UCLA and will stay at UCLA as long as they will have me."

Also on Sporting News:

Howland told Sporting News any reports of him being interested in DePaul were "absolutely unfounded, untrue – 100 percent unequivocal."

The question again becomes how this story show up in first place? Pat Forde is one of the best from ESPN. He doesn't float random nonsense. GO BRUINS.

UPDATE III (N): Read the quotes very closely. They do not deny whether any kind of discussion took place. Howland might not have any interest in the DePaul job at this point but it is unclear whether there were discussions with DePaul through either direct or indirect sources. Again, the rumor is now out and even if it has been "denied" it will impact our recruiting. The question again becomes who floated this story concerning DePaul. It seems lot more than just bunch of news columnists thinking out loud. GO BRUINS.