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Jeff Eisenberg

Expect Marquette's Buzz Williams to be the next to reject Oregon

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Seriously, is Oregon ever going to learn its lesson?

It was one thing when the Ducks put out feelers to Tom Izzo, Mark Few and Billy Donovan. Then they struck out with Jamie Dixon, Mark Turgeon and Brad Stevens. Then Missouri's Mike Anderson turned them down. And now comes a report in the Eugene Register-Guard that Marquette coach Buzz Williams is the new long shot target.

As Oregon enters its 38th official day without a coach and underclassmen continue to defect like Cuban baseball players, the obvious question is whether the Ducks are ever going to make a run at hiring someone who actually wants the job. Maybe they'll be able to sell Williams with a flashy new arena and a truckload of cash, but on the surface he's no more likely to leave an upper-tier Big East program such as Marquette than Dixon at Pittsburgh, Turgeon at Texas A&M or Anderson at Missouri.

Whether Oregon wants to admit it or not, the truth is that this job is not nearly as attractive as its brass seems to think it is, perhaps even no better than the sixth or seventh best gig in the Pac-10. UCLA and Arizona are traditional powers, Washington and Cal are currently better teams in better recruiting hotbeds, Stanford is only five years removed from a decade of dominance in the Pac-10 and USC's location makes it a sleeping giant.

Heck, as bad as Oregon State has been since Gary Payton left two decades ago, even the Beavers have greater basketball pedigree historically than their in-state rivals.

There's nothing wrong with Oregon aiming high, but the Ducks also should realize that the uncertainty surrounding their program is causing significant damage. Three current players have obtained their releases because they couldn't wait any longer, opposing coaches are making indirect contact with those still in Eugene and elite Portland-area recruits Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross are looking elsewhere because the Ducks aren't giving them much other choice.

If Oregon is dead-set on making a splashy hire, perhaps former athletic director Pat Kilkenny will continue blindly groping for big-name candidates once word inevitably trickles in from Williams that he too has turned down the job. Or maybe Kilkenny comes to his senses and finally targets an up-and-coming West Coast coach like Saint Mary's Randy Bennett or Portland's Eric Reveno.

Either of those guys would have been good hires weeks ago. And if they can stomach being the seventh or eighth choice, they still would be now.

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