Richard Pitino is still the Gophers coach. For how long? His boss, Mark Coyle, hasn't made that known yet.
Whether Pitino stays or Coyle starts over, the nature of that job will receive fresh scrutiny.
Is being Gophers men's basketball coach a good job, hard job, great job, overrated job, or something in the middle?
I asked four current or former Division I coaches who have followed the program closely over the years to share their perspective. In exchange for their candid assessment, the Star Tribune granted anonymity.
How would you describe this job?
Coach 1: It's probably the eighth- or ninth-best job in the league. It's a great job because it's going to pay $1.5 to $2 million probably. But by the same token, in terms of comparing it to other schools in that league, it's eighth or ninth.
Coach 2: It's a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten job. The payday that goes with the job is going to be attractive. The type of people they can go after will be a significant raise for them in most cases. You're not getting another sitting Power Five coach to leave where they're at to come there.
Coach 4: I think it's a good job. I think it is good-plus, great-minus.
Coach 2: The Big Ten is such a tough league that that makes it difficult. The Barn is a really neat building, but it isn't exactly easy to sell to an 18-year-old. The fan base there tends to get negative in a hurry. I thought they always had less patience for their team than most in the league. It just seems like the fan base is always expecting the worst.
Coach 3: The problem is twofold. One is the league. You're measured by how you do in the Big Ten. There are six jobs that are better. So you're fighting for 7, 8, 9 [place]. That's not good enough for the fan base or the administration. That's not what anyone wants and yet that's where that job falls in that league.
The second thing that makes it hard is being the only [Division I] school in the state. People think that it's easy because it's the only school in the state and yet that makes it almost harder because [recruits] want to get away from that microscope. Like anything else in life, if you're with a person so long, you see their warts, you don't see their beauty. I think that happens to that school a lot with recruiting within the state. Everyone sees the negative things.
Coach 4: The Big Ten is punishing. It's difficult so the competition is more fierce than it ever has been. And as the TV contract kicked in, apparently there is more money there too. There are more programs doing more with more money.
Minnesota has become a recruiting hotbed. But elite players leave for blue bloods. What is the answer?
Coach 1: It's a better job than it was 20 years ago because of the depth [of talent]. The way that you get Chet [Holmgren] or Jalen [Suggs], you get them because you had other Minnesota players — probably guys that weren't at the level that they are — and they have success in the program and win.
Coach 2: The recruiting in the state is a real advantage. That puts it more toward the middle-of-the-pack as a job, otherwise it might be lower than that. You have to harness the power of the home-state kid. I think at times style of play hasn't matched up with the type of a kid that's there regionally that they're able to get.
Coach 4: The difficulty with the Minnesota job is when you do lose those marquee guys to Duke, to Gonzaga, where do you go to get a player like that to be able to elevate the program? The Matthew Hurts of the world, if you could ever get one of those kids to decide, "I'm going to come here for two years and kick butt and then I'm gone," that would be great.
Thoughts on Williams Arena?
Coach 1: Because they haven't won, in my opinion it's probably a detriment. But it also depends on how you brand it. Think about the contrast between [Duke's] Cameron Indoor Stadium, which is a dump, and [North Carolina's] Dean Smith Center, which is like an NBA arena. But it's how you brand it. If you're not winning, then you can't brand it the right way.
Coach 2: I like The Barn a lot. But you walk a kid into the empty Barn and they've been to some other places, it doesn't have the history of [Kansas'] Phog Allen or Duke. Those places are cool because you see them on TV a million times and it's a shrine to basketball. The Barn is just a really old gym.
Coach 3: Williams Arena is an awesome place to coach in, an awesome place to play in. It's not a great place to recruit to. Kids are not looking for tradition. That's been lost on this generation.
Coach 4: I believe Williams Arena needs an upgrade. The practice facility that they built looks great on the internet. Nostalgia only goes so far with 17- and 18-year-old guys.