Eric Musselman Is Entering Uncharted Territory For Mid-Major Coaches
How does the offseason unfold for one of the sport’s biggest names?
Where does Musselman go from here?
Reno is oftentimes referred to as “The Biggest Little City in the World.”
It’s now fair to call Reno home to “The Biggest Mid-Major in College Basketball.”
Much of the reason for that, of course, is the program’s complete revitalization under transcending head coach Eric Musselman.
Now that the offseason has begun for Nevada basketball as well as most other teams across the country, coaching movement has taken the spotlight, which will likely impact Musselman to some degree.
One of the hottest names in the sport, Musselman figures to again be tied to a number of high-major head coaching vacancies this spring. His name can be found as a potential candidate for jobs like UCLA or even in the SEC country at LSU, his former employer.
There are two options here for Eric Musselman.
He can either do what most in his position have done, which is wait for a prominent power-conference job to open up and take it.
The other option is to become a “legacy” head coach of sorts, transforming Nevada into a mid-major powerhouse like Gonzaga and Wichita State.
Both are solid options. Both make a lot of sense.
The decision has to happen now, though.
Why now? Well, there are reasons for that as well.
If Musselman does choose to the go the route of moving up to a high-major job, he needs to move now. Musselman’s stock likely won’t be higher than it is at this point as he has checked about every box for a successful mid-major coach. He has won regular season titles and a conference tournament title, he has advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament, he has signed a McDonald’s All-American, he has sold out arenas time and time again, and the list goes on and on.
There quite literally is not much more Musselman can do in Reno to show he is more worthy of a high-major job. So if his intention is to move into a high-major job, now is the time. If you’re a big program, you either want him or you don’t. He is completely qualified to run one of the nation’s prominent programs based on what he’s done the past four years.
Because of Musselman’s success at a mid-major program like Nevada – which had appeared in the NCAA Tournament just five times in the present-day tournament format prior to Musselman’s arrival – one has to wonder just how long he will remain in Reno.
It sucks, but it’s the reality of the business of college basketball.
There’s also the other side of the coin, though.
What if Musselman wants to stay in Reno? What if he wants to make this his home long-term and try to build the Nevada program to Gonzaga-like prominence? If Mark Few can do it, why can’t Eric Musselman?
It’s a question that will be in the back of every Wolf Pack fan’s minds from now until every head coaching vacancy is filled this spring. Because I do believe that Musselman is capable of not only being a successful head coach at a place like UCLA or Arizona, but also turning Nevada into a mid-major powerhouse like Gonzaga. The past four seasons are proof why both can be true.
It is now up to him to decide what he truly wants.
You can’t blame him either way.
Eli Boettger is the lead basketball writer at Mountain West Wire. He’s covered Mountain West basketball since 2015 and his work has been featured on Bleacher Report, NBC Sports, SB Nation, Yahoo Sports, MSN, and other platforms. Boettger is a current USBWA member.