Leon Rice loaded the family into the Wagon Queen Family Truckster (yes, that’s a Vacation reference) and drove to Boise Thursday night/Friday morning. He arrived at 3 a.m., slept a little and then was introduced as BSU’s new coach at a 12:30 press conference.
I tuned in to the proceedings on BSU’s Web site and put together the unedited article below. I also checked in with Billy Grier, the last GU assistant to leave for a head-coaching gig, for his thoughts on Rice and his interesting take on Mark Few’s future.
Few didn’t return my phone message, but he was quoted in a BSU press release on Rice’s hiring: “Boise State is getting a great coach and an even better family into the greater Boise area. I hope the fans and the community reach out and embrace them. He was the co-architect of this entire run (at Gonzaga) and a huge part of our success. We’ll miss Leon, Robin and the kids greatly.”
The BSU release also has this quote from Adam Morrison: “I’m excited for Leon and this new opportunity for him. He brought a great spirit and attitude to the team while I was there and is a tremendous choice to head the Boise State basketball program.”
Meanwhile here’s a blog post from the Oregonian on the Ducks’ search for a new coach and another on Phil Knight’s interest in Tubby Smith.. There’s also this from the Register-Guard as well as a column that discusses what the Ducks might pay for a coach.
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In 11 years as an assistant at
“I said, ‘I don’t pursue these (job openings), and I haven’t asked you do to do this in 11 years, but I’d like you to try to talk to Gene’ (Bleymaier, BSU athletic director),” Rice said during a Friday press conference announcing his appointment as the Broncos’ new coach. “Mark was terrific through the whole thing.”
Rice agreed to a five-year contract at an annual salary of $400,000, pending state board of education approval. He replaces Greg Graham, who was fired after eight seasons. Bleymaier said the school will boost assistant coaches’ salaries and the recruiting budget. BSU’s three assistant coaches made between $42,000-$74,500.
BSU interviewed Rice, former Montana Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak and
“We got to a point where we could not go wrong with our selection,” Bleymaier said. “I think we made the best choice we could for this program.”
Rice interviewed the day after Gonzaga returned from its season-ending NCAA Tournament loss to
“I told my family about it, that there were just so many great things,” Rice said. “I fit in this community because I’ve lived in a one similar. It’s comfortable for me and my family, which is important to me.”
Rice added that the success of the BSU’s football program was a drawing card.
“It’s going to open doors for the basketball program,” Rice said. “That’s an asset.”
Rice said he’ll “reach out right away and find out where we are” with recruits. Rice has some assistant coaches in mind and said he plans to “swing for the fences.”
Rice joins Bill Grier, who left Gonzaga for
“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Grier said. “I think he’s been pretty smart about it, he’s looked at some other things, but he wanted to make sure if he got the opportunity to take a job it was one that fit him.”
Rice was thought to be first in line at Gonzaga if Few were to decide to take another job. Before taking the
Asked if Rice’s departure might signal that Few isn’t going anywhere, Grier said only Few can answer that question. Few didn’t return a phone message Thursday.
“I don’t think he’ll just say he’s not listening to someone, I think he has to (listen), but Mark has done an unbelievable job and he obviously has one of the best programs in the country. It’s a great fit for him and his family and the things he values,” Grier said. “I would think it would be difficult for him to replicate that somewhere else, but who knows.
“It’s funny being away from it, people up there are out of touch with it, they’ve kind of lost sight. I’m hearing all these comments about this (NCAA) tournament. Since when is it not good enough up there to win the league and win a first-round tournament game? I mean c’mon, have a clue. The job he’s done is phenomenal.”
Rice, meanwhile, hopes to build a program that can achieve long-lasting success.
“It was a long process (at Gonzaga). Mark has been there 22 years, I’ve been there the last 11, so it’s a step-by-step process,” Rice said. “You want a team the community is proud of and you want them to carry themselves the right way.”