According to several sources, Gonzaga associate head coach Leon Rice has accepted the head coaching position at Boise State University. Rice has been working under Mark Few at Gonzaga for the past 11 seasons and has been a major part of the best years Gonzaga has seen. For the past few seasons however, Rice has been linked to more and more vacancies and it was almost accepted reality that if Mark Few remained at Gonzaga, Rice would eventually seek his own head spot. Evidently Boise State has given Leon an offer he can't refuse.
Even though I know none of the details of this move, I can assure all Gonzaga fans that this was definitely not an easy choice for Rice. This past summer, we spoke with him over the phone and asked him about his time at Gonzaga under Mark Few:
"Oh yea, (Gonzaga) is truly unique. I've known Mark for about twenty years, probably since 1987, so I guess for about 22 years. We met when we worked camps together in Oregon for Dan Monson, and we were already really tight before I took the job here. Now our families are very tight, and when we are away from basketball we do a lot of things together with our kids and families."
In that same interview, we asked Rice about how he went about sifting through head coaching positions and if he could ever see himself leaving Gonzaga:
"You got to have your eyes open all the time, just to see what opportunities are out there. But first and foremost, we love Gonzaga and if we were to ever leave it would be like a divorce having to split the kids up from the community. Professionally, it is something that I will entertain and I have looked around at a small number of opportunities, but I don't actively pursue jobs, or initiate the contact. However, if the right one comes along and if I'm lucky enough to be involved, I'll look at it. But it has to be a very very good position for me to even consider it."
You can tell by the words he used last summer that his bond with Mark Few and with the city of Spokane is truly special. Leon, like the rest of the staff, exudes class and we wish him nothing but the best at Boise State. The Broncos obviously have a tremendous football program and we hope they give Leon and the basketball program enough time to fully realize their potential.
As for what we have left at Gonzaga, this move makes it pretty clear that Mark Few has no intentions of going to Oregon. Rice was the coach in waiting at Gonzaga in case Few left the program and I'm sure Rice was advised by Few during this process.