David White

Fresno State did not need to look further than its home for the next basketball coach

Clovis West head coach Vance Walberg on the sidelines during a time out during a game against Independence in a Nike Invitational boys basketball tournament at Clovis West High School on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016.
Clovis West head coach Vance Walberg on the sidelines during a time out during a game against Independence in a Nike Invitational boys basketball tournament at Clovis West High School on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. Fresno Bee file

Want bold, Fresno State?

Drop your list of no ones in particular, Fresno State, because your short list of men’s basketball coaching finalists doesn’t even reach the rim when it comes to moving the needle.

School President Joseph Castro, you have got to make a hire that puts seats in the seats. No one you interviewed this week does that out the gate.

You’ve got two choices that are already better than the chose you likely have already made.

One, sit down with Vance Walberg.

Boosters with names on your buildings love him. The west end of Clovis, where the greenest cash flows, adores him. He’s got a local name brand. He’s got a local address out by Clovis West High. He’s created an offense so good, Kentucky coach John Calipari had Walberg teach it to him a few years back.

Yeah, that Calipari. You know him. He called to vouch for Walberg’s candidacy, did he not? He offered a home-and-home series with Kentucky if Walberg gets the job, according to two sources — and one those sources is named Walberg, who says he would love a job interview.

Did you catch that? The Kentucky Wildcats, owners of the second-most NCAA titles in the land, are willing to come and play in the Save Mart Center. If Walberg gets the desk.

That’s bold.

Worried about Walberg’s minor infractions once upon a time when he was head coach at Pepperdine? Better hope your current list of candidates doesn’t have bones in the closet, because every NCAA assistant coach these days is a suspect after the FBI busted schools from east to west for paying players last season.

Not happy with Walberg’s win-loss record at Pepperdine? Then tell us again why you’re interviewing a Cal State-Fullerton coach with a losing career record.

Want even bolder?

higgins.jpg
Former Fresno State star Rod Higgins answers questions at a news conference after being named general manager of the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday, May 20, 2004. Higgins was a former Warriors' player and assistant coach. Jeff Chiu Associated Press file

Call Rod Higgins. And this time, leave the former Fresno State star more than a voicemail while pretending you tried.

Hunt down the onetime NBA star. Go to his house and make the ex-NBA general manager an offer worth accepting. Make him say no out loud so his local supporters can be put to rest.

Boosters with fat pensions love him. Kids who want to meet his buddy Michael Jordan will adore him.

Yeah, that Jordan. The one you can count on showing up in the Bulldogs’ gym to break their ankles from time to time, because Higgins and Jordan are tight like that.

You got any better ideas, Fresno State? Don’t answer that. We already saw the list that gets leaked from the four corners of your campus. We’d type them now, but then it’d eat up the rest of our column space explaining who they are and why they matter.

This, by the way, is exactly what happens when you kick the athletic director-hire down the road. Jim Bartko was kicked out last calendar year. No one is around but an interim to make one of the two most important hires you’ll ever make.

Your money grab to save short-term money has left your school rudderless. Your last basketball coach jumped ship for a lateral move because no one wants to work for a leaderless employer. No basketball coach with better options is going to take a job when they don’t even know the name of their boss.

Your list of assistant coaches isn’t going to do the trick. If your Red Wave wouldn’t show for the last Power 5 assistant you hired, no matter how many 20-game seasons he strung together, they won’t show for the next Rodney Terry.

You saved the football program by hiring a familiar name who had been out of the college head coaching game for years, and was run out of his last head coaching gig with some academic-rate problems.

You decided Tedford was worth the risk, and look what happened. He got your football fans excited enough to buy tickets again.

No outside assistant can do that for men’s basketball. Only a local name will do. Here’s wishing you hadn’t already made up your mind, because you don’t have the boots for the booster backlash coming your way.



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