It's Live Thread Wednesday!
Okay, so we jumped the gun yesterday. Knowing the pragmatism that Matt Painter has shown every single step of the way, it really made no sense that he would meet with Missouri and immediately make his decision. The guy takes his time.
Everything we've learned about Painter in recent days make me want him to become Missouri's head coach even more than I already did (and he was already the clear No. 1). The guy has shown a lot of Gary Pinkel's best qualities -- he is incredibly pragmatic, and he is clearly focused, first and foremost, on the long-term. While analysts at a national level simply see this about money (they summarized on SportsCenter this morning that "Purdue's going to have to pay up to keep him" ... which is about one-third of the issue), he has clearly begun to develop quite a few concerns about Purdue's long-term viability and ability to help him win a championship. Otherwise this would have never gotten this far. The only questions, at this point, are a) has Purdue managed to alleviate these concerns in the last couple of days, and b) does Purdue still get the benefit of the doubt? Or to put it another way, does a tie go to the home team?
Some quick positive and negative signs as we enter what is almost certainly the last day of Painter Watch 2011.
Good For Mizzou: This clearly isn't all about money.
If it were, Painter likely would have just accepted the (alleged) $1.9/year deal that Purdue offered him Monday night. There would have been no need for Mike Alden and company to still fly to Florida yesterday morning. Plus, when Purdue (again, allegedly) upped their offer yesterday, word of a decision still didn't leak out. Since Painter supposedly started liking the Mizzou job when Purdue visited Mizzou and he saw the facilities a few years ago, it's clear his draw to Mizzou goes far beyond "Purdue's not paying me enough."
At this point, it is obvious that isn't simply about contract leverage. A week ago, we all dismissed Painter's name because we just figured he was using Mizzou to get a raise from Purdue. But the amount of research he has done here clearly shows that he wasn't just using Missouri. Even if he ends up staying with Purdue, it is evident that he has taken this extremely seriously. And again, if it were just about leverage ... he got his raise offer, and he didn't immediately announce that he's staying at Purdue.
Good For Mizzou: Matt Painter clearly does not totally trust the Purdue athletic department.
Whether it is about simple investment, facilities, or whatever, there is obviously something there. (Obviously.) Painter has done an incredible amount of due diligence and research regarding Missouri, and it seems to have centered mostly around Mizzou's commitment to basketball and its recruiting possibilities. Makes you think he doesn't necessarily believe in Purdue's commitment to basketball and its recruiting possibilities. (The state of Indiana clearly has a high recruiting ceiling, but with Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame and now Butler sharing a tight space, he might be doubting Purdue's individual ceiling in that atmosphere.)
Bad For Mizzou: This is still somewhat about money.
Whatever doubts Painter has about Purdue's commitment, they cannot alleviate everything over the course of a couple of "But baby, I've changed" phone calls. But they can earn the benefit of the doubt by opening up their previously closed purse strings. Rumor has it, they have done so in a major way. If they're willing to pay that much to keep him, then they've proved something, haven't they?
Good For Mizzou: Painter now knows about the state of Missouri and its potential.
Through his diligence and around-the-state conversations, Painter knows that Missouri's recruiting base includes, among other things, 60 Division I players in the last six years who didn't attend Missouri. They're not all good enough to play at Mizzou, but that's still a large base for a state with only one major conference team.
Over the weekend, Ross, Atch and I put together a potential "Missouri only" roster. It was impressive. You could build a helluva squad with the following players (all from the state of Missouri and its extended suburban areas): Ben Hansbrough (who technically would have used up his eligibility by now if he hadn't transferred), Marcus Denmon, Mike Dixon, Alec Burks, Alex Tyus, Josh Harrellson, Travis Releford, Trevor Releford, Steve Moore, Justin Hurtt, Dominique Morrison, Ricky Kreklow, Scott Suggs, Jesse Perry, Rahmon Fletcher, Tyler Griffey, etc. With Brad Beal, Ben McLemore, B.J. Young and Otto Porter coming in.
Obviously, it would never be realistic to lock down every single solid Missouri player (they still share Kansas City with KU, KSU, etc., and they still share St. Louis with the entire Big Ten ... and apparently the Univ. of Florida), nor would it be particularly smart to only recruit this state, but that's a solid base of players, and I have to figure it appealed rather significantly to Painter.
Bad For Mizzou: Painter now knows about the state of Missouri and its ... issues.
Right or wrong, Mizzou has had an incredibly up-and-down-and-further-down-and-back-up relationship with the city of St. Louis, among other things. And while we hope that every incoming football or basketball coach will mend all the fences and lock down the state of Missouri once and for all ... it's never going to happen. There are simply too many odd, old wounds and strong personalities at play here. And if Painter talked to high school coaches and AAU coaches from the area, he probably didn't just get the rose-colored view, now did he? There are issues in this state, and he likely heard about a few of them
Bad For Mizzou: Purdue is still Painter's alma mater.
He clearly has some serious reservations about Purdue's long-term viability ... but there's still a very good chance he gives them the benefit of the doubt. And you probably would too.
I commented yesterday that we were going to see people's true personalities emerge last night because every single piece of information that came out could be spun in a distinctly positive and distinctly negative way. Matt Painter's not on the plane! His family's still in Florida! No it's not! He's still in Florida! No he's not! The Purdue players know nothing! Purdue has raised its offer! Well, today we almost certainly find out, one way or another.
Knowing that they needed to move on quickly if he turned them down, Missouri asked Painter to let them know his decision by noon today if at all possible. For both the sake of Mizzou's coaching search and the work productivity of Rock M readers, here's to hoping this is the last all-day live thread for a while ... even if "all-day" just means "until this thread reaches 800 comments by noon."
And if Matt Painter doesn't choose Mizzou ... I'll just choose to blame ghtd36. I recommend you do the same.