Head Coach Mark Few is creating one hell of a resume with the teams he has turned down during his tenure at Gonzaga. Schools like Indiana, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, and a number of others have had shown serious interest in hiring the reserved and humble Few, but time and time again he has stayed committed to Gonzaga University. Each and every year different jobs open up and Few consistently winds up on the short list. I remember before Billy Gillispie took the Kentucky job two years, people were mentioning Mark Few as a possible candidate and that is saying something because Kentucky is unlike any other coaching position in the nation. In Few's mind however, it seems that there is no coaching position like the one he already has at Gonzaga.
This may befuddle the rest of the nation and piss off the entire Pac-10 who has been all over Few but for a guy that barely talks to the media, I'm sure he doesn't mind too much. Coach Few has spent about twenty years on the sidelines for the Gonzaga Bulldogs in some capacity. He began as an assistant in 1989 and was promoted to head coach after the 1999 season when then head coach Dan Monson departed for Minnesota. Since then he has taken Gonzaga from possible one-year wonder to perennial tournament team and has really put Spokane, Washington on the map. It drives me crazy when I read things that say "Mark Few only built upon what Dan Monson started." Yes, Monson did great things at Gonzaga but without Few's excellence, Gonzaga could have easily disappeared as fast as it rose out of the Pacific Northwest. Just think about how many mid-majors have claimed to be the "Next Gonzaga" only to fall back into anonymity. Few's ability to build a program like Gonzaga and keep it upright is one of the more impressive feats in college basketball.
While he has had other offers in the past, this was the first time where I thought that Few could legitimately be gone. Arizona has always been a job that he has shown a decent amount of interest in and from all indications, the Wildcats were putting the fullcourt press on him. I doubt we will ever know how much conversation went back and forth between the two parties and if they were ever even close to getting serious. What we do know is that he is staying in Spokane for yet another year and it may turn out to be one of the most exciting year's in Gonzaga basketball history.
I couldn't have imagined what sort of fall out would have occurred if Few would have taken the Arizona job. Look at what is happening in places like Memphis, Washington State, and early indications in Southern California. Memphis has a number of recruits and current players seeking to continue their basketball career elsewhere, the Washington State fan base is somewhat topsy turvy and their players are obviously taking it very hard, and no one really knows what is going on at USC yet but I can imagine that it is not going to shape up nicely. I talked with EDZ about what would happen if Few left. Would Dower try and go to Minnesota? Would guys like Goodson, Gibbs, and Poling get out while they can? How would veterans like Bouldin, Gray, and Daye react? I'm sure that would be the clincher in Austin Daye's NBA decision. Luckily, there will be no fallout at Gonzaga. Bol Kong, Mangisto Arop, Sam Dower, Elias Harris, and Kelly Olynyk will all arrive on campus this summer to play for the man that recruited them.
So thank you, Mark Few, for continuing your excellent coaching legacy at Gonzaga. While I'm sure that I will complain next year about strategy or whatever, he is the only person that I could imagine patrolling the sideline for the Zags. Here's to the future and if you can fit it in, a national championship!