Chuck Landon: Oh brother, what a ride MU took to find coach
Just exactly how did Marshall end up with Danny D'Antoni?
The answer lies in the anatomy of a 41-day job search for a new head basketball coach.
The first 30 days of the search -- March 15 through roughly April 13 -- were spent courting Danny's younger brother, former Marshall star point guard and current Los Angeles Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni.
Then, as it became more and more obvious that a backup plan needed to be formulated in case D'Antoni didn't leave the Lakers, Marshall officials decided to interview four candidates during the week of April 13.
The list included Robert Morris head coach Andrew Toole, Eastern Kentucky head coach Jeff Neubauer, Stephen F. Austin head coach Brad Underwood and West Virginia University assistant Ronnie Everhart.
Before the interviews even started Toole withdrew his name from consideration.
Next, Marshall officials interviewed Everhart in Charleston on April 15. Two days later, Neubauer reportedly was interviewed on campus. Later that Thursday, Underwood flew in from Nacogdoches, Texas, and was interviewed.
Five days later, the search got really interesting. The Charleston Daily Mail broke a story Tuesday revealing that Mike D'Antoni was no longer a candidate for the job.
Suddenly, the otherwise lethargic search became frenzied. On Wednesday, Marshall officials offered the job to Neubauer and he accepted. But as the Eastern Kentucky coach reportedly was driving to Huntington, a highly respected Marshall booster met with Marshall president Steve Kopp and urged him to hire Danny D'Antoni rather than Neubauer.
As a result, Marshall officials telephoned Neubauer and told him they had changed their minds. So, he turned his car around and headed back to Richmond, Ky.
Then, Marshall conducted a telephone interview with D'Antoni on Wednesday. But MU didn't offer him the job. Instead, officials got re-involved with Underwood, who had left Huntington not wanting the MU vacancy.
Marshall offered the job to Underwood and negotiations began with his agent. But, as it turned out, Underwood was more interested in the vacant Southern Miss job and apparently was using Marshall's job offer as leverage with Golden Eagles officials.
Long story short, Underwood played Marshall and, then, said no to the job offer.
So, Marshall called Neubauer back and offered him the job again. He declined in no uncertain terms. Then, Neubauer met with his Eastern Kentucky players Thursday morning and told them not to believe anything they had heard or read because he was not accepting the Marshall job.
That left Marshall officials scrambling for a solution. ... to put it mildly.
And that's when Thursday turned into "D-Day" for Marshall.
"D" as in Danny.
"D" as in D'Antoni.
"D" as in done deal.
Actually, D'Antoni was planning to fly to Huntington for an in-person interview Friday and never expected Marshall to offer the job on Thursday.
It didn't keep him from accepting the offer, however.
So, this 41-day odyssey of a job search started with Marshall coveting one D'Antoni, but ended with MU hiring another D'Antoni.
Talk about coming full circle.
One way or another, Marshall was not going to be denied.
MU hired a D'Antoni.
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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