With Steve Alford leaving today to become the new coach of the UCLA Bruins, if the New Mexico administration were smart, they would hire Dana Altman as the replacement for Alford.
In the last three years since taking over the Oregon program, Dana Altman has easily been in the top five of college basketball coaching accomplishments. First year winning the CBI, second year reaching the NIT quarterfinals and this year the Sweet 16, let alone a Pac-12 tournament championship.
Yes, the U of Oregon has cache in athletics and more important they have the best owner in sports, Nike chairman Phil Knight. And there are much worse places to live than Eugene.
But with all that, I think Dana Altman would win a national championship at New Mexico within three years. The fan base is terrific, one of great basketball arenas in the country, great academics and a school that is use to winning and winning big, thanks to Alford.
No disputing, I am a huge fan of Dana Altman. If you are not, you should be. Five times coach of the year in four different conferences says volumes. Equally as important, he wins, wins a lot with sometimes not the best talent. The guy also is all basketball, an intense work ethic, makes great in-game adjustments and always deflects the heat on himself, not the players after tough losses.
Next year in the Pac-12 there will be at least four or more teams with better talent than the Ducks. Oregon State, Colorado, UCLA and Arizona to start with. And next year, once again New Mexico will be one of the favorites to win the Mt. West and also assured be back in the NCAA tournament.
At the present and probably into the future, New Mexico is a better college basketball job than Oregon. That is why Dana Altman deserves to be there, back in a state where he played college basketball for Eastern New Mexico.
As much as Dana Altman has done for young people, for the game of basketball and beyond, he has earned the right to win a national championship, where he would do just that at New Mexico, much sooner than at the Oregon Ducks.
Whether Dana Altman is at Oregon, New Mexico or somewhere else, one thing can be certain, the W column will always be great than the L column.
Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider