Dana Altman made a boo-boo.
In April 2007, Altman did more than just flirt with leaving Creighton for Arkansas -- he accepted the Arkansas job, was confirmed as the new coach by the media, and even flew to Arkansas to formally accept the position at a news conference. Less than 24 hours later, Altman was calling his former athletic director to make sure he could still have his old job, which he promptly took back. In the process, Altman made something of a pledge:
“This is home,” the 48-year-old Altman said. “This is where I will finish my coaching career. That’s pretty obvious now.”
Uh, not so much. On Saturday night, several media outlets -- Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman first among them -- reported that Oregon had, after an interminably long coaching search, hired Altman away from his "home." Naturally, this did not sit well with Altman's current players, especially freshman point guard Antoine Young. From the Omaha World-Herald:
"After [Arkansas], he was going to be here for a good while,” Young said. “Apparently not, huh?” Young said he was disappointed and hurt. "Especially when he's my coach, I'm his point guard. That relationship is supposed to be, you know, it's a strong bond. ... He's almost like a family member. I had a nice freshman year with him. We've known each other so long. We went through some struggles together this year. But at the end of the year, we were making strides, I thought."
Oregon managed to do two things with its hire Saturday night. The first: It nabbed a very good, capable coach, one who built a consistently successful program at Creighton and stayed there long enough -- 16 years -- to see that program through. Altman wasn't Oregon's first choice, sure. But even after one of the worst-handled coaching searches in recent memory, Ducks officials managed to land a quality guy. Altman can build Oregon into Creighton on Nike-fueled steroids. (Important don't-freak-out note: Not literally, of course.) It should be an interesting combination.
The second thing Oregon's hire did? Exposed, yet again, the fact every sports fan must confront from time to time: Everything changes. Coaches say one thing and do another. Few coaches, including a man who spent 16 years at the same mid-major, are really as happy in their current home as they say. There's always another job out there. And "never" never really means "never."