OK. Let's clear one thing up: I don't think Flip Saunders was intentionally trying to sell himself as a potential candidate for the Gophers coaching job when he made the following statement on KFAN's Dan Barreiro show (minute 36), which has some fans and fan sites in a frenzy:
"One thing I’ve always said a lot is college coaches don’t always translate to the NBA. But yet guys have been college, gone to the NBA, that maybe fail in the NBA even their experience when they go back to college, they always say they’re much better coaches in college after they’ve been to the NBA."
Saunders wasn't talking about himself -- he was actually talking about Michigan State's Tom Izzo, and how he believes the Spartans coach is one of the few college coaches that would do well at the next level.
But in his round-about answer, he may have accidentally added another spark to the already popular rumor that Saunders could be in the running for the U of M job were it to suddenly be open. Tubby Smith, of course, still has two years after this remaining on his contract.
After Barreiro jumped on the reply, Saunders back-pedaled, saying " No, no, no, no don’t throw that out there. I’m just saying if you look at guys like Larry Brown, [who] went from a pro coach and then goes back to UCLA and Kansas, has a lot of success; you look at [John] Calipari, as far as [Rick] Pitino. And if you talk to a lot of those guys, you’ve got to realize you spend 24/7 on basketball; it’s the purest you can be from a standpoint of basketball that there is as far as just working on basketball and just working on different plays, different schemes. So when you’re doing that, and you’re playing so many games, 110 games a year when you’re in the playoffs, those are the things that are going to make you better as a coach because the more situations you see the better you’re going to get."
Right now, any Minnesota coaching ties to Saunders are merely rumor. But it's about as popular as a rumor can get around here. What do you guys think? Was there more meaning behind Saunders' words than he's letting on?