Another interesting day dawns in Pullman in this, the post-Tony Bennett era. Bennett will have has introductory press conference in Charlottesville, Virginia today – makes one wonder what Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia, would think of all this – and he’ll be off and running with his new job. Here in Pullman, the athletic department senior staff is working the phones as they move forward in hiring a replacement. And, lest we forget, the football team is on Rogers Field this afternoon building the foundation for the fall. Read on.
• There’s not a lot of depth to the report this morning, as the initial burst of Bennett’s-leaving news wears off, but there is some. We took a look at what options are available for the four players who signed letters of intent in the fall, talking with Spokane’s Anthony Brown. Even though Xavier Thames wants out of his letter, our understanding is nothing will happen until a new coach is hired and given an opportunity to sell the players on staying. The best way to ensure these players remain committed – and to head off potential transfers from the freshman class – just might be the retention of at least one or two assistant coaches, the first line of recruiting and the people who are closest to the players. We’ll see how that plays out. … A couple of columns in West Side papers this morning, with freelancer Howie Stalwick posting his opinion about the Bennett decision in the Olympian, Tacoma’s John McGrath writing about Pullman as a destination and the Times’ Bud Withers throwing his hat in the Ken Bone ring. And the P-I’s Art Thiel added this column … Nick Daschel of Buster Sports also has this piece about Bennett. … Derrick Low weighs in about Bennett for Virginia fans. … Finally, for basketball, the Virginia men’s basketball website had a question-and-answer session with Bennett, and we thought this would be of most interest to you:
What was the toughest thing about telling your players at Washington State you were leaving?: “Well, there was an investment there. There were deep relationships built. You had been through the wars together – the great successes and the hard losses. You watched those young men grow. You never plan on leaving when you are recruiting them. When an opportunity like this presents itself, it is hard to look those kids in the eye and tell them you are not going to be their coach anymore. The one good thing I felt about at Washington State is that there is some promising young talent. They’ll find a good coach and there are good things on the horizon for them. From that standpoint, I feel better about it, but that does not make it easy to sit with those kids and deliver that news. It was very difficult.”
• There is some football news this morning from around the Pac-10, with Washington opening its spring drills and Oregon opening the Chip Kelly era. … And, as a special, added attraction for this Wednesday, Steve Bergum’s college baseball notebook leads with the Cougars.
• We’ll be back this afternoon. Bennett’s press conference will be webcast from Virginia and there’s spring practice today and tomorrow. Though we’re keeping an eye and a half on the search for the new basketball coach, the other two will be focused on football. We’ll be back. Until then …