Having already been turned down at Big East power Marquette and scarcely considered by upper-echelon SEC programs Missouri and Tennessee, Ben Howland likely only had one more chance remaining to break back into coaching this spring.
In a show of excellent judgment, he apparently chose not to take it.
Howland withdrew his name from consideration for the Oregon State job, ESPN.com first reported Monday night. Since Oregon State is the last major-conference program with a coaching vacancy, Howland will likely have to wait until next spring to reenter the coaching profession unless another enticing job unexpectedly comes open later this offseason.
It had to be tempting for Howland to snap up the Oregon State gig considering the former UCLA coach will turn 57 later this month. Perhaps Oregon State wasn't willing to meet Howland's salary demands. Or maybe a closer look at the Beavers program probably revealed that this was not that desirable a job.
This is a program that has only produced two winning seasons in the past 25 years; That hasn't made the NCAA tournament since 1990 when Gary Payton was still in uniform; That already was probably the second toughest job in the Pac-12 even before the offseason exodus that will leave the new coach with a threadbare roster and no returning starters from last season.
Whoever the new coach is will probably need at least three or four years to make Oregon State competitive again and will likely need to tap the fertile Los Angeles area for players who can spearhead the rebuilding process.
That's an ideal spot for an energetic assistant coach eager to advance in the business like Arizona assistant Damon Stoudamire or UCLA assistant David Grace. That's not as good a fit for someone like Howland whose distant relationship with his players and inability to consistently recruit Los Angeles eventually cost him his previous gig at UCLA last year.
Howland's three Final Fours and unassailable tactical acumen made him an attractive candidate for Oregon State after six years of Craig Robinson's bumbling Xs and Os and inability to develop the talent he recruited. The Beavers finished eighth or better in the Pac-12 only once under Robinson despite impressive recruiting hauls that included standouts Jared Cunningham, Roberto Nelson, Eric Moreland, Devon Collier and Hallice Cooke.
There's no doubt Howland can still be successful as head coach somewhere. His success building Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh into winners is proof of that, as is the way he revitalized UCLA during the first half of his tenure in Westwood.
Howland can find a better fit than Oregon State. He'll just have to wait a year.
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