After some anxious moments and some soul (and pocket) searching, the University of Connecticut did the right thing and closed the deal to get University of Rhode Island coach Danny Hurley as its men’s basketball coach.
The move became official when Hurley agreed to a six-year contract which will pay him in the vicinity of $3 million per year, although some of that may be back loaded on the contract or laced with incentive bonuses.
It may have been a program-saving move in terms of direction for the Huskies, who have been on a downward slide the past few years..
Hurley, who has done a fine job at URI and is now ready to move to the next level in his coaching career, is not the best coach in college basketball. But he is the best fit for UConn.
But in terms of what UConn can get and what it now needs, Hurley is clearly the best choice simply because the Huskies need more than a coach. They needed a presence that has not really been around the Huskies program since Jim Calhoun retired in 2012.
Here’s the problem.
UConn is not UConn anymore. Not only have the Huskies tumbled competitively since winning the national championship in 2014, they have lost their buzz as a program. Playing in the American Athletic Conference is a prime reason, although the competitive level of the top tier of the AAC (Cincinnati, Wichita, Houston) is solid. The problem is that a fan base which was fed a Big East diet of St. John’s, Providence, Boston College, Georgetown, Syracuse and Villanova on a regular basis, has no appetite for seeing the Huskies face off against Tulsa, East Carolina or UCF, which are also part of the AAC.
What had developed into a destination job in one of the great conferences in college basketball under Calhoun has dropped to a transition job for coaches looking to move to the next level.
The other problem is money. UConn grew fat and happy with Big East money and success. But the Big East is gone and so is much of the money. According to some media reports, Pittsburgh, which is also looking for a coach, had dangled a $3 million a year package in front of Hurley. Insiders at UConn say $2.4 million was near the top of where the Huskies can go. But faced with no other realistic alternative, UConn came up with more money. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.