The reason the UVA Foundation plane hasn't left Charlottesville in nearly a week is because Craig Littlepage is using black helicopters to conduct this coaching search. With the word leaking out that a mystery coaching candidate may or may not have taken a clandestine late-night tour of the JPJA facilities - complete with security cameras being turned off so as not to report any faces - we've officially entered Area 51.
On the one hand you've got Jeff White swearing that an "absolutely impeccable source" assured him there was no such visit. Whitey Reid believes otherwise, and Adam Gottschalk has an "airtight source" that's telling him, yes, the visit took place and not only that, but whoever visited has an official offer in front of him.
Meanwhile, a "reliable source" who is "really plugged in to various big time coaching circles" informs a poster at CavsCorner that Steve Robinson, assistant at UNC, has an offer; another poster, whose sources told him to "shut his mouth" after saying this, is dead-convinced that Jeff Capel is the guy and the rest is just smoke. You've got Rick Barnes spotted at a Charlottesville 7-11, except UT swears he's been in Austin all this time and could not have been the midnight visitor.
Even your humble blogger has his sources. I can now confirm that Craig Littlepage was seen leaving the Minneapolis offices of Tubby Smith. Or maybe he was in Norman, OK. In any case my photographer, dressed as an innocent janitor with a camera hidden in his mop handle, snapped this photo of Littlepage leaving an office. Somewhere.
It's an airtight source, guys, I'm telling you.
So what do I think of all this? It's a good thing I have this blog so I can tell you. The athletic department certainly is expending a lot of effort at creating confusion. I absolutely do think they have people with instructions to tell White one thing and Reid another and Gottschalk another and so on and so forth. Because obviously somebody's source is not so impeccable or airtight as they believe.
With all this effort going on to convince the media that two mutually exclusive things are both in fact true, you'd think - or at least hope - a similar effort is underway to actually, you know, hire a coach. I think you can take this to the bank: that whoever is hired will be significantly richer than they were at their last job. For this reason I think our odds of seeing a coach hired from a big name school are better than the 50/50 that I offered up earlier. That, and a few more coaches from big name schools have entered the equation - namely, Texas' Rick Barnes and LSU's Trent Johnson. Barnes, obviously, has a track record and would be excellent. Johnson, I'm not so sure of. His LSU squad was pretty solid this year but they were basically kings of the mud. Repeatedly thumping the likes of Mississippi, Georgia, and Arkansas is not remarkably impressive.
Here's the real problem, and the reason for the secrecy. This coaching search is just as much about who wants us as it is about who we want. If we were Kentucky, who I think is about to have a similar vacancy, this wouldn't matter. Kentucky will publicly offer someone, because who is going to publicly turn down Kentucky? And even if they do, Kentucky will still get someone very good who will have no trouble putting aside their indignation over not being the #1 choice, because it's Kentucky. Kentucky doesn't offer you the job, they deign to allow you to have it.
So we'll do the dance about "evaluating" the candidates when really the only thing we're evaluating is their willingness to pull up roots and come to Virginia. Because we're like the guy proposing to his girlfriend on the big screen at the ballpark: when we pop the question, we'd better be damn sure the answer is yes. This is why I don't know who I think the next coach will be, but I think I know who it won't be: Tubby Smith. I'm sure there's interest on our side - if there were rock solid interest on the other side, this'd be almost a done deal by now. Hell, given the smokescreens, maybe it is - but I doubt it.
If the right teams get eliminated this weekend, I think we'll see a little bit of movement. (Go Syracuse.) If not, expect another week of this cloak and dagger shit.