Coaching Carousel Mike Montgomery News: 4.4.08

Golden Bears LogoMike Montgomery is going to come out of mothballs and take the University of California (Berkeley) job. It'll be great to see him back at work - a man who can coach at a school where the student-athletes might have to attend class once in a while, who, despite his failings to get to more than one final four over 18 years, has always been a fantastic coach...

Except when he went pro and coached the Warriors to the tune of 68-96.

No matter. The Cal/ Stanford rivalry in general, and this switcheroni in particular, makes some writers bug their eyes out:

Ray Ratto from the San Francisco Chronicle:

Whether this makes cosmic sense for Cal is another issue, and one that can only be answered in each person's head. Fan response on the chat boards was running relatively even, and that is in places where everyone starts with the same assumption, that God, Allah and Robert Gordon Sproul all agree that Cal is the center of the galaxy. Montgomery is a weird sell for those who believe that Stanford is the natural predator and enemy of all things Bear.

But politics makes strange bedfellows, and if this seems a bit like Bob Knight at Purdue, Geno Auriemma at Tennessee, or Barack Obama at the Clinton family weenie roast and fund-raiser, well, so be it.

Montgomery is a name, which Barbour clearly felt the program needed. He has a Division I track record, which others, including putative favorite Mike Dunlap, did not. He becomes a sure talker; here at the college basketball trade show that is the Final Four, the news is being regarded as something between a surprise (that Montgomery would take the job after being so secure at Stanford) and amazement (that the numbers and length would be so inspirational).

Carl Stewart of The Contra Costa Times:

Just ask the thousands of Stanford grads who will be getting the news today and responding, "Are you flipping kidding me?'' Or just ask thousands more strident Cal alums who will howl with disgust that the Bears have turned to someone from Stanford to bail them out.

However you spin the good sense of it _ and there's a lot of that to this move _ it's damn weird. Weirder, even, than Montgomery going from Stanford to the Warriors.

Unless he decides he simply can't part with that his closet full of cardinal-colored blazers, Montgomery will become the first man in a major sport _ football or basketball, basically _ to serve as a head coach at both schools. That's no small deal. We're talking well over 100 years of documentation without that invisible barrier between broken between Berkeley and Palo Alto. This is like Herbert Hoover giving over to Abbie Hoffman.

How is Trent Johnson going to rationalize it? He served as Montgomery's assistant, then took over the big chair at Stanford when Monty left for the Warriors. Now he not only has to coach against him, he has to recruit against him, too.

That's some rhetoric right there! I'm sure it will be strange, but the Pac-10 won't have Cal to kick around anymore.

And Ryan Anderson, star of the Cal team, has declared for the draft. He's viewed as a late first-round to mid-second round pick, and hasn't hired an agent; unless he blows the scouts away, he'll be back.

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