Be careful what you wish for, Griz fans. The men’s basketball team won the Big Sky tournament for the second consecutive season, and that sort of success has national pundits speculating on the prospect of head coach Larry Krystkowiak leaving for a larger program.
“He probably has the résumé right now [to get hired elsewhere],” says Sean Farnham, Fox Sports Radio basketball analyst and former UCLA player, echoing sentiments he’d already aired on-air in a recent phone interview. “A lot of it’s big business: Can you sell tickets? Can you get the big recruits? Can you get the fan base? It’s probably one year away, but does he have the résumé? Does he have the name recognition? Yes, he does.”
Part of the reason Farnham thinks any departure is at least a year away is the dearth of head-coaching vacancies at major programs in the Northwest, an area to which Krystkowiak would be best suited. Farnham names two remote possibilities: Replacing Oregon’s Ernie Kent, who has struggled despite signing an extension last summer, and Colorado State, which is expected to fire coach Dale Layer.
Krystkowiak has been consistent when talking about his future. In December he addressed working for his alma mater with the Independent saying, “I would be perfectly satisfied being here for the next 20 years, and if another job came along that made sense, that’s just something I’ll assess when the time comes.” He reiterated those comments in a recent Q&A with the Missoulian, adding: “I haven’t called anybody on a job and I haven’t heard from anybody, contrary to a lot of rumors and talk.”
The lure of leaving for Krystkowiak would be the challenge of leading a larger program, stability and money; state law limits UM to guaranteeing him a one-year contract for a comparatively piddling $100,000 a year. Plus, UM has always been a springboard position, with such notables as Jud Heathcote (Michigan State), Mike Montgomery (Stanford), Stew Morrill (Utah State) and Blaine Taylor (Old Dominion) leaving for bigger programs. With an overall record of 41–19 and consecutive trips to the NCAAs, Krystkowiak appears on track to follow his predecessors.
“Give him one more good year,” says Farnham, “and I think he’ll be swept up.”