BOZICH | Monday Muse: Waiting on Pitino's next recruit; Final Fo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: Waiting on Pitino's next recruit; Final Four for LSU? $EC salaries

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Waiting for Rick Pitino's next recruit, wondering about the attraction at Louisiana State and comparing pay stubs. Time for the Monday Muse.

1. Wizardry of Willard – Ralph Willard is one of the few coaches I know who can tell Rick Pitino he's wrong.

That's one reason that, even at 69, Willard would be a superb fit to replace Wyking Jones as one of Louisville's assistant coaches.

Willard is also a guy who knows how to teach the match-up zone defense. He can get guys to crank up the defensive pressure or the offensive pace.

But even if Willard does not contribute one more great thing for the Louisville basketball program, he's already made one unforgettable move:

Willard convinced Rick Pitino to take Russ Smith more than five years ago.

Pitino wasn't sure about that move. Willard was absolutely sure about that move.

Like I said, Willard is one of the few guys I know who can tell Pitino when he is wrong. Pitino was leaning the wrong way about Smith. Willard insisted Smith could help.

The course of Louisville basketball changed because of it.

2. L-S-Really? – When Louisiana State secured a commitment from the best high school player in the nation (Ben Simmons), you didn't have to be Shaquille O'Neal to connect the dots.

Simmons' godfather is David Patrick, an associate head coach at LSU. Imagine.

When Antonio Blakeney picked LSU after de-committing from Louisville I stopped trying to connect the dots. Who chooses Johnny Jones over Rick Pitino?

I guess Blakeney and Simmons are friends. The word was that Blakeney needed to play at a Nike school. Guess what LSU wears?


On Monday morning LSU snagged its third Top 50 recruit -- Brandon Sampson, a Baton Rouge native who de-committed from St. John's. He's ranked No. 41 by Rivals.com.

There's word that one more Top 50 player – guard Malik Newman of Jackson, Miss.,  has LSU on his short list of six finalists.

Things have gotten so silly that one website is already predicting that LSU will join Kentucky, Villanova and Maryland in the 2016 NCAA Final Four.

To that, I say: What would people be saying if Kentucky or Louisville signed four of the Top 50 high school football players in the nation?

Get Inspector Gadget on Line One?

Three or four Top 50 guys want to play for Johnny Jones, a coach who has never won an NCAA Tournament game?

Three or four Top 50 guys want to play for a program that failed to fill one-third of its seats for home games and ranked 50th in the nation in average attendance?

Those dots do not connect.

3. Spring Sensations – What would you say if I told you that the University of Louisville announced a larger crowd for its spring football game than Florida, Florida State or LSU?

Would Antonio Blakeney believe that?

He'd better.

According to the numbers compiled by Kevin McGuire at CollegeFootballTalk.com, Louisville has the 11th largest reported spring football game attendance in 2015.

The Cards' announced total (23,187) ranks second in the Atlantic Coast Conference, trailing only Clemson, which rounded its number to a flat 37,000.

I could not uncover the announced attendance for the University of Texas' Orange-White game Saturday night.

And I looked.

4. $EC Football Rankings -- The Dallas Morning News has assembled the salary numbers for football coaches (head and assistant) across the Southeastern and Big 12 Conferences. (You can access them by clicking here.)

A few interesting tidbits:

*Even at $3 million a season, Kentucky coach Bob Stoops ranks no better than the 12th highest paid coach in the league. Eight SEC head coaches make at least $4 million.

*Stoops should not feel slighted. The 11th highest paid coach on the list is Mark Richt of Georgia. Richt annually wins 9, 10 or 11 games – and he's only making $3.2 million?

*In the world of SEC assistants, new UK offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is ranked the 18th highest paid guy – at $550,000.

*Charlie Strong wasn't the only member of his Louisville staff who celebrated a big salary bump moving to Texas. Strong is listed as the second-highest paid coach in the Big 12 at flashy $5.1 million per season.

No surprise.

But his defensive coordinator, Vance Bedford, is earning $800,000 per year while assistant head coach for offense Shawn Watson is fetching $650,000.

*According to the Morning News, UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart trails only Jeremy Foley of Florida and Dave Hart of Tennessee in annual salary among SEC ADs. Florida is paying Foley nearly $1.3 million while Barnhart's salary is listed at $835,000.

5. Bullish on Bryant – Add former Indiana star Victor Oladipo to the list of guys who believe that the addition of center Thomas Bryant will upgrade Indiana to the Top 25 – or better next season.

Bryant, who is 6 feet 10 and about 230 pounds, scored 11 points with eight rebounds in the Jordan Brand Classic in Brooklyn Friday night. Oladipo appeared on the ESPN2 coverage of the game.

Asked about Bryant and what he can add to the Hoosiers, Oladipo said this:

"They need an inside presence, especially defensively, someone to protect the paint and rebound. So he's going to be big for us. He's gonna be a huge help."

Bryant is ranked 37th by Rivals, 33rd by Scout, 27th, by 247 Sports and first among Tom Crean's three recruits.

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