Since the conclusion of both the 2010 and 2011 runs to the National Championship game, Butler head coach Brad Stevens has been one of the hottest coaches on the NCAA market.
This success brought schools from across the country who wanted to make the ultimate catch for their programs: hire Stevens.
Over the early portion of the off-season in both years, Stevens was the target by many major programs such as Oregon, Wake Forest and Clemson, along with being one of the highly speculated rumor options for the Illinois head coaching position when it opened up last year.
As the offers continued to flood in, many speculated that he would depart for bigger and better job opportunities. After all, that’s what his predecessor were known for.
1)Thad Matta was a strong coach at Butler, (his alma mater,) as an assistant from 1997-2000 and officially being appointed the head coach for the 2000-2001 season.
Following his capture of the Horizon League regular season and postseason titles in his first and only year, he was named National “Rookie Coach of the Year” by CBS SportsLine.com and College Insider.com. Lastly, he lead the Bulldogs to a 28-4 season which ended in a loss in the second round of the NCAA Tournament that year to eventual runner-up Arizona. Following that successful year, Matta took the head coaching job at Xavier and from there went to Ohio State, where he is 250-73 with an appearance in the National Title game and two final four appearances to his credit.
2)Most recently there was Todd Lichliter who guided the Bulldogs to a 131-61 record in 6 seasons including two appearances in the NCAA Sweet 16. After losing to eventual National Champion Florida in the 2007 Sweet 16, Lickliter was named National Coach of the Year. Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Matta, Lickliter realized his stock was high and took a job as the head coach at Iowa.
That’s what the Butler position had become, a high quality mid-major position that was a catapult to bigger and better things.
Naturally once Stevens took over the team in 2007 and made quick work as a head coach, (taking them to the title game in 2010,) everyone expected him to be gone.
Yet to the surprise of the college basketball world, he did what none of the coaches before him had the guts to do: he turned the big programs down.
The following season, when some experts didn’t even have Butler making the tournament, he took the Bulldogs back to the title game and once again turned the “big kids” down.
He was rewarded with a new contract good through the 2021–22 season.
However, the Bulldogs didn’t stop there. After missing out on the NCAA Tournament in a rebuilding year last season, they joined a top-tier conference in the off-season, the Atlantic 10.
Then, just when the basketball world thought the growth was complete, the Bulldogs joined the new “Big East” last month, completing one of the most remarkable transformations by a program in NCAA Tournament history.
Still other programs wouldn’t give up, and just a few weeks ago, and everybody thought there was finally a school Stevens couldn’t refuse: UCLA.
While not the same as they used to be in the John Wooden days, the Bruins are a rich in history as well as money. There was no way he could turn them down..right?
“@BUCoachStevens: Love walking thru Hinkle in the morning… Anxious to get started on our spring workouts next week.”- via Twitter
There was the answer.
Stevens wasn’t crazy, he was loyal..not to mention successful. He isn’t just good enough to get job offers from the big conferences, he is good enough to get the big conferences to come to him.
Butler basketball has always been about “The Butler Way”, (a motto that started well before Stevens, but is something he practices every day on and off the court,) which “demands commitment, denies selfishness, accepts reality, yet seeks improvement every day while putting the team above self.”
That’s why he turned down UCLA. True, job security and the ability to recruit players that fit his system freely play a factor, but mainly because of his values.
Brad Stevens “demands commitment” from his players, “denies selfishness” from his players, and ensures himself and his players “accept reality, yet seek improvement everyday while putting the team above [themselves]”
That’s why he is never leaving Butler.
It’s time for us to “accept that reality”.
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