Jon Wilner of The San Jose Mercury News provided an assessment of the Johnny Dawkins contract extension that, if true, could pacify the many Stanford basketball fans disappointed by Bob Bowlsby’s offer to the struggling head coach. In a post on his College Hotline blog today, Wilner says that the extension is most likely intended to help on the recruiting trail, rather than truly secure Dawkins’s job well into the future:
… assuming the school is not on the hook financially … it’s mostly a meaningless extension: If Stanford continues to struggle, then Dawkins will get fired in two or three years. If the Cardinal starts winning, then Dawkins will almost certainly snatch the first decent east coast job that comes along. Either way, there’s very little chance he’s at Stanford when the extension years kick in.
Wilner admits that he (or anyone else in the media, for that matter) does not have the financial terms of the extension, making the speculation less credible without hard numbers to ponder. The size of the buyout needed to cut ties with Dawkins should Stanford fire him also makes a big difference, but is similarly unknown.
Still, even Wilner’s self-acknowledged guessing seems fishy. After all, the kind of East Coast job that would likely come calling for Dawkins–unless he mounts a complete about-face and leads Stanford to NCAA Tournament glory–probably would not be an elite ACC or Big East job, which the Duke graduate surely dreams about assuming one day. Even a man with substantial ties to the Atlantic side of the country has to recognize that Stanford is one of the country’s best jobs in a power conference that’s currently winnable.
Furthermore, even some of the nation’s best coaches don’t have contracts that run through 2015-16, as Dawkins now does. While the new extension might score him a few extra points with the parents of elite high school recruits that want him to be around for the duration of their children’s collegiate playing days, that marginal benefit hardly seems worth the organizational and financial risk to Stanford that is incurred by the extension.