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It’s now time to see what program tries to pry Shaka Smart from VCU

Mar 23, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT

VCU Rams head coach Smart talks with guard Johnson during the final seconds of their third round NCAA tournament basketball game against Michigan in Auburn Hills

On Saturday afternoon, Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams were knocked out of the NCAA tournament by Michigan, meaning that his offseason has officially begun.

And what’s an offseason for Shaka Smart with all kinds of speculation about when he’ll be leaving VCU and where he’ll be headed.

In 2011, it was NC State that came calling and got shot down. In 2012, it was Illinois that courted Shaka, and again, he turned down their higher profile conference and a pay raise.

So who will it be this year?

USC currently has an opening, although many expect that gig to end up in the hands of Pitt head coach Jamie Dixon. It’s also tough to imagine Smart turning down NC State and Illinois only to settle for the second most prestigious program in Southern California.

What about UCLA? The same folks predicting Dixon to USC are guessing that Ben Howland will be out as Bruins head coach, and it’s only every so often that the head coaching position at one of the Blue Bloods comes open. Will that be enough to lure Shaka away from VCU’s Richmond campus?

I don’t know. No one does. I don’t even think that Shaka has thought about at this point, to be honest with you. He’s been focused on the whole “VCU in the NCAA tournament” thing.

But the bottom-line is this: it’s going to take a lot more than a pay-raise to get him. There’s going to have to be more at stake than the simple promise of playing in a bigger conference. Because Shaka makes plenty of money where he is. He’s a legend at VCU. He brought Havoc to the program. He’s got as much job security with the Rams as any person in any profession in the country. His day-to-day stress isn’t worrying about whether or not a booster is going to try to force him out; it’s whether he’ll be done watching tape and recruiting to get home in time to tuck his daughter into bed.

UCLA had seven head coaches in the 28 years before Ben Howland was hired, and he may get fired despite winning the Pac-12 regular season and taking the Bruins to the Final Four three times in his tenure.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. arlingtonsynn - Mar 23, 2013 at 5:10 PM

    Georgetown would be wise to pay attention…

  2. iamjimmyjack - Mar 23, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    He’s coming to usc. We all know it. Dixon didn’t want to come, so Shaka it is.

  3. iamjimmyjack - Mar 23, 2013 at 7:32 PM

    Lets see if Memphis can match the 3 million per year that usc can. I doubt it. Money talks.

  4. packhawk04 - Mar 23, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    If money talked, hed be at illinois.

  5. arlingtonsynn - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:38 AM


    Why would Shaka want USC?

    As Packhawk pointed out, if money was his priority… he would have left last year. USC doesn’t have a recent history of BB success. The one big recruitment win in the past decade turned out to be paid (OJ Mayo).

    With UCLA’s HC job about to be open, wouldn’t USC be the second best option in Los Angeles alone?

  6. vcupats - Mar 24, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    The key to HAVOC is fining the right type of players to play the system. This doesn’t mean blue-chip recruits, which is what a “bigger” program would want. I don’t see Shaka leaving VCU as long as he’s winning.

  7. Eric Angevine - Mar 24, 2013 at 12:08 PM

    When Shaka started at VCU, he was in the CAA, now he’s in the A-10. Seems to me he doesn’t have to move – the program is moving plenty on its own.

    • courtlandbd - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:28 PM

      And VCU was, at least, mentioned in the talks about who would be joining the Catholic 7 in the Big East split. That is not small ball. That is Big Time.

  8. buckybadger - Mar 24, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    He isn’t going to leave for USC, not a big enough program. Just like when Crean was at Marquette he turned a lot of jobs but when Indiana came knocking he answered. Same will happen with Shaka, he knows he can win at VCU and he will get a great job if he stays patient. Money does talk but if you take the wrong job the money won’t be there for long.

  9. courtlandbd - Mar 25, 2013 at 3:25 PM

    Shaka is able to run his system with the players that he has recruited at VCU. He would not have the same type of players if he were to move. Would a program like UCLA be patient over the next few years until Shaka could bring in players who could play in the style that VCU has become known for. I believe UCLA is a “win now” kind of place. Is it worth the risk for Shaka when he has a good thing going at VCU. The team loves him and will go to war for him each and every day, regardless of whether it is conditioning, practice, or in a game. The team, The University, and the Community have bought into what Shaka brings, which, by the way, extends far beyond the basketball court. For anyone who has attended a game at VCU’s Siegel Center, you know that it is tough to create the type of atmosphere that currently exists at VCU. It is a special thing. Shaka knows it…and I think he believes in what he is doing as the Head Coach of the Rams. It is not always about trying to find greener grass on the other side of some proverbial fence. Rather, it is about making the grass as green as possible on your side of the fence. And…he has the best Pep Band in the Country backing him up.

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