College Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Thinking out Loud: Don’t expect Ed Cooley to leave Providence

03.31.17 at 3:01 pm ET
By

Rooke_JohnThinking out loud…while wondering what kind of fools are April Fools?

— Kevin McNamara wrote about it in the Providence Journal this week – Ed Cooley’s name being thrown around like a rag doll in a play pen amongst college basketball program openings. Two words – “ain’t happening.”

— And two more. Just sayin’.

— Here’s one of the reasons why, unbeknownst to fretting Friar fans or the URI trolls who have tried to call me out on Twitter for being “biased.” Ha. Like they’re not? There’s been a long-held, unwritten rule in the Big East since the early days of the league under Dave Gavitt – coaches don’t jump ship within the conference.

— I had this conversation with Dave years ago – one of the basic tenets of the conference had to be loyalty to your school, sure. But also, loyalty to the league was important during its initial growth period.

— Gavitt wouldn’t allow coaches to entertain the thought of moving to a neighbor or a rival school, feeling a change like that could stir up too much emotion, bad blood, back-fighting and ill will. Rick Barnes had a possible chance, years ago, to pull a switch like this. Gavitt blocked it.

— Yes, I realize Gavitt isn’t around any longer to police these things. But the result of his wisdom and foresight is still in play today. It’s why you see (and feel) some of the comradery that still exists today among Big East membership – outside of the rock ‘em, sock ‘em conference games of course.

— Those are still wars, as hard-fought as any basketball seen over the past 35 years. But the programs pull for and support each other outside of league play as well as any conference possibly can. It’s one of the secret ingredients in Big East success through the years – collegiality.

— That’s a long, lost art in intercollegiate athletics. Conferences today are merely over-stuffed, media-driven conglomerates. True collegiality has long since disappeared. College athletics should try it again. Dave Gavitt proved it could actually work.

— Oh, and another reason why Ed Cooley wouldn’t appear on Georgetown’s front door step – loyalty. Not just loyalty to his family in Providence, or to his employers at PC, but also to his friends in the business. He’s fiercely loyal to his friends in the business. He considers ousted coach John Thompson III a friend; therefore, he simply wouldn’t step into a job vacated by a friend.

— And for those cynics already thinking “sure he would, if the money were too good to pass up?” You don’t know Ed Cooley. Now, he did tell the Journal this week that you never say “never,” citing family as one overriding issue, but Cooley-to-Georgetown is about as close to “never” as I am to winning the lottery, buying an island and disappearing from public view.

— None of this means he won’t kick the tires on possibilities as they come open. Success breeds envy, and others will always want what someone else has. They’ll pay for it, too. Someday, this may happen in Cooley’s case. But with a team poised for a huge 2017-18 season? With the completion of the Friar Development Center a little over a year away? Don’t expect his departure to happen any day soon.

— As for Dan Hurley and Rhode Island, reports this week he’s working on a renegotiation of his current deal at URI are welcome news. It would only bode well for the Rams to do what they can to keep the momentum going from a season that was 19 years in the making.

— But until Georgetown lands its big fish, Hurley will still be considered a potential good catch. Can URI – and the State of Rhode Island – afford to keep him around? Can they afford not to? Those are legit questions. Hurley could have said “yes” to Rutgers a year ago, and didn’t. But what happens if another high major position opens that can offer $2 million, or more, per year?

— Personally, I don’t believe Dan Hurley makes the leap. Not now, anyway, for whatever reason you can come up with. In the end, it’s good for the Rams, and good for basketball in Rhode Island.

— Let’s enjoy this success while we can, but as mentioned above – never say “never” when it comes to answering the question “what’s next?”

— PC’s Rodney Bullock has decided to test the draft waters, but won’t sign with an agent. Smart move. He’s merely hoping to find out where he stands, and what he needs to do from this point forward to be a potential pro. Ben Bentil did this last year, but stayed in the draft as Friar fans are all too aware.

— Expect this to happen just about every year for most good teams. Someone will “declare,” as per the new rules, to get an idea of potential and – to get a list of things to work on. Just sticking the toes in the draft waters. Bullock has until the end of May to make his decision official.

— Can’t say I’m surprised by Ricky Council’s decision to transfer, either. Kids want to play. And even though Council was largely happy at PC, he still wants to play. Hard to find fault with that. Good kid, good teammate. His departure may open an opportunity for a transfer, who would have to sit out next season before becoming eligible. A grad transfer, with immediate eligibility, is also in play.

— Elsewhere in this week’s “silly season” update, Marquette senior guard Duane Wilson has a year of eligibility remaining, but has chosen to leave the program after graduating in May. He’ll then play a graduate season at Texas A&M next year.

— The Golden Eagles will be loaded again for Coach Wojo, but the team won’t be quite as experienced with its depth.

— Seton Hall’s Angel Delgado has announced his intention to try for the NBA draft, but he will not hire an agent – yet. Reports also have the Pirates’ senior-to-be-guard Khadeen Carrington with the same situation.

— Xavier’s Edmond Sumner, out with an ACL tear since the end of January, has also announced for the draft but WILL hire an agent. Which means, he’s gone.

— Strange, for a player who has had an all-too-short college career that has been riddled with injuries – he also suffered a major concussion his freshman year. Maybe he thinks if he can get there, the NBA is safer?

— No word yet from Trevon Bluiett, who entered the pre-draft workouts last year before returning to school. Bluiett could be an overwhelming choice for Big East Player of the Year if he returns, but as we’ve seen, that possibility tempts players not one whit. He likely helped his draft status with averaging 21 points per game and shooting 41% from three during the NCAA Tournament and wins over Maryland, Florida State and Arizona.

— Graduating senior Darien Williams and junior guard Malik Ellison have decided to transfer from St. John’s. Williams will have one year, immediately eligible, to play anywhere, while Ellison – son of “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison – must sit a year before finishing his career. That might actually make him nervous.

— Former Brown head coach Glen Miller is out at UConn as associate head coach to Kevin Ollie. Miller had two different seven-year stints on the UConn staff as an assistant first to Jim Calhoun, then Ollie, and spent time as a head coach at Brown and Penn before returning to Storrs.

— Losing will do that to you. Staff shakeups typically occur before the head honcho exhausts all options. Ollie and the Huskies finished 16-17, their first losing year since 1986-87.

— Looks like UConn has some company coming to the American Athletic Conference. Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel says there are active negotiations ongoing between the AAC and Wichita State to bring the Shockers in as a 12th basketball member, likely as early as next season. They would also participate in all other sports, except for football.

— I get the move – it works for both sides. The Shockers improve their national profile, as does the league. But this is another nail in the mid-major coffin, and we just moved a step closer to Big School Autonomy in college athletics.

— Congrats to former Bishop Hendricken and West Virginia star Joe Mazzula, hired as the new head coach at Division II Fairmont State in West Virginia. Fairmont just finished its season as the national runner up in DII and on that team, was former Friar God Shammgod’s son Shammgod Wells. Wells finished his career as the school’s all-time leader in steals and assists.

— Mazzulla, a Johnston, Rhode Island native, spent three years as an assistant at Fairmont before moving into the NBA D-League as an assistant at Maine this past year.

— Baker Dunleavy, son of Mike – who is now head coach at Tulane, brother of Mike who plays in the NBA – and a former walk on at Villanova who has been assisting Jay Wright for the past seven seasons, is the new head coach at Quinnipiac. Dunleavy is only 34 years old, and will be one of the youngest DI coaches in college basketball next season.

— Former WBO boxing champ and Providence native Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade told Channel 10 this week he’s ready to step out and defend his newly-won title belt against WBA super-welter champ Erislandy Lara. That’s great. Put up the dukes and go. You’ve got to fight and win to be recognized.

— Andrade’s meteoric rise – and subsequent fall (stripped of his belt for inactivity) – has largely been because of contract squabbling. He defeated Jack Culcay in Germany in early March, and is still unbeaten. Wanna be loved by the local fans of Vinny Paz and Peter Manfredo? Get back in the ring and work with people who will work with you – and not necessarily for themselves.

— While the winning for the Hockey Friars was temporarily stalled in their NCAA loss to Harvard last Friday, it wasn’t a bad week at all for defenseman Jake Walman. Walman signed a three-year contract with the St. Louis Blues this week.

— The NFL owners’ meetings this week in Phoenix, Arizona were significant for one thing, really. Rich guys getting richer. Approving the move of the Raiders from Oakland to Las Vegas – eventually – marks the 3rd franchise relocation in two years. Two more years in the Bay Area, most likely, before the Raiders run east.

— Yes, Raiders’ owner Mark Davis will pay a $350 million franchise relocation fee, which is well short of what Stan Kroenke paid to move the Rams back to Los Angeles. Seems a bit chancy to me, however, to move into a smaller, unproven market with Vegas residents on the hook now for $750 million of the $1.9 billion it will cost to build a new stadium. Gambling surcharges, anyone?

— And the NFL, according to the Grand Poobah Roger Goodell, still opposes legalized gambling. Anyone see a potential conflict here? Anyone?

— And there were rule changes, too. They outlawed the “leap,” made famous by the Patriots’ Jamie Collins and Shea McClellin. Cracking down on dangerous play? How often does that play occur? Once, twice per season? That’s like trying to put out a fire with a squirt gun. Yeah, that’ll make the game safer – maybe for long snappers.

— Centralizing the league’s replay process should conceivably help with a game’s length. And there won’t be any more booth reviews by game officials, just a tablet and a headset for a chat with New York – the same tablet type Bill Belichick slammed to the ground this past season because it didn’t work properly. Oh, this’ll go well.

— As we said a couple of weeks ago, Malcolm Butler, sign your contract tender. It’s the only way you’ll move forward as either a Patriot or a Saint. Who else feels like progress is being impeded here, kind of like the geniuses from the Department of Transportation who shut down highway lanes to dig holes?

— Oh, and the Commish says he’ll be present for the NFL season opener – presumably in Foxboro at Gillette Stadium on September 7th. Unless the league decides to play the opener somewhere else, or he gets a case of Happyfeet-itis and decides not to show at the last minute. Don’t put anything past Those Who Have Roger’s Ear. Those owners run the league, he doesn’t.

— The Sox are just getting started, and Tyler Thornburg is already on the disabled list. Right shoulder impingement. And the possibility this was caused by an aggressive TEAM plan for strengthening his shoulder? The Sox have a way of impinging my joy in the season starting every year.

— A grand slam, if there ever was one, for the Pawsox – Carlton Fisk, Mo Vaughn and Joe Morgan into the team’s Hall of Fame this summer.

— Two updates to share from the Pawtucket Red Sox – one, is the “Touch of Spring” open house Saturday April 8th at McCoy Stadium from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It’s free – including autographs and hot dogs – and open to the public. Two, get your running shoes ready. The Pawsox Foundation 5K Walk ‘n Run will take place on May 20th, starting and ending at McCoy, to benefit the Foundations’ Veteran initiatives.

— I don’t know about you, but Devin Booker hanging 70 on the Celtics doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t care that Boston won the game. A better team would have massacred them that night, than what Booker had around him with the young Suns. In the old days, someone would have set a back screen for Booker and decked him before he ever got close to 70.

— Not for nuthin’, but the Celtics were upset because Phoenix coach Earl Watson called two late timeouts to set up plays for Booker to get to 70. If they had a problem with that, they should have done something to stop him. See the above suggestion.

— Think about this. Booker is only 20 years old, and he did that to the Boston Celtics. He averaged 10 points per game in his only year at Kentucky. Most ever scored in a game against the C’s, most ever scored in a game by a Phoenix Suns’ player. 51 of his points came in a Wilt Chamberlain-like 2nd half. Embarrassing.

— And yet, this week the Celtics found themselves overtaking Cleveland for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. I need some ibuprofen, stat.

— Tuukka Rask needs to move on. Big game, he comes up big lame. Sure, he’s played well this past week, but he seems to occasionally put personal needs in front of team needs – and that is precisely what’s wrong with the professional games we watch today. It’s a business, and every player under contract is a self-proprietor.

— No thanks – I’ll take heart, guts – even foolish stupidity – over self-absorption, any day.

— Good to see the US National Women’s hockey team reach an agreement with USA Hockey for support. The team, as we wrote here a couple of weeks ago, was ready to boycott the world championships for a lack of equitable support compared to the men’s team.

— My buddy Bernie sez he once tried to get the attention of a good-looking girl in his neighborhood bar by asking her if she ever smoked after she had sex. The girl replied “great question. I don’t know. I’ve never looked.”

— April Fools are the best kind of fools. Oblivious. Anyone who falls for a joke on this day, just isn’t paying attention.

— But some of the better ones I’ve seen recently include the Celtics selling Brooklyn Nets’ gear on their website – perhaps in thanks for Boston’s never-ending supply of 1st round draft picks? And ex-Yankee Derek Jeter last year announcing via Twitter he’s signed with a team in the Australian Baseball League. One of my favorites was pulled on the viewing audience while I was at Channel 12 in the early ‘90’s, conspiring with then-athletic director John Marinatto to announce the re-launching of PC’s dormant football program.

— Did you know, that the origins of April Fools’ Day jokes and All Fools Day came from Pope Gregory XIII? As we potentially brace for a round of messy weather this weekend (sadly, no April Fools’ joke here), All Fools Day jokes remind us all to smile, to laugh, to have fun – even if it is at the expense of some poor, unassuming soul. Be gentle, out there.

— Daniel in Oldsmar, Florida posted on Facebook this week, offering a theory on the Patriots’ current free agent activity: “My opinion is that they will bring (Darrelle) Revis back, I get mixed emotions on it and then they will have a top ranked offense and defense for this kind of run then Brady leaves and after next year Jimmy G. is the starter.” Daniel: It could happen. Don’t know if they win next year TB12 calls it quits, however. But if they go 19-0? I could see that. And as for Revis, wow. With Stephon Gilmore AND Malcolm Buter, that would be some backfield. He could play to his remaining strengths and not have to be the #1 cover corner. If the Jets are paying him, too? That’s too good to be true.

— Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to john.rooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke …

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Southern New England Sports Saturday! Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.