SAN ANTONIO -- With his top-seeded and undefeated University of Connecticut women's basketball team on the threshold of making history as the first team to win back-to-back undefeated national championships, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma said today he's not likely to be looking for the next great challenge of his coaching career if the Huskies win their seven overall national championship Tuesday night against Stanford.
"This game has given me more than I probably have given it," Auriemma said. "And I'm not looking for any change or any challenge than the challenge that I have in front of me right now."
Two weeks ago, on ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Auriemma remarked his career would somehow be fulfilled if he were to go over to the men's side and accomplish what he has with the women. He did go on to say if there was one men's job that would intrigue him, it would be Duke's.
Apprised yesterday the Nets reportedly were prepared to offer Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski $12 million to $15 million to take over their downtrodden franchise, Auriemma asked, "Is that a year or total?"
Told it was per annum, the UConn coach cracked, "That opens up the Duke job, huh?"
With the Boston College job still open, Auriemma was asked if that men's vacancy intrigued him. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, sure," he said, facetiously. "We win 30 games every year and I'm going to go someplace where I'm going to get killed?"
But it would be a challenge, no?
"Yeah, it's a challenge. I'm 56. I like the challenge that I have right now," he said. "I said this to somebody else: I think in every person there's always this thought of, 'What about that?' I mean, if you're a high school coach -- I know some great high school coaches on the men's side and the women's side who are struggling with that decision: 'Should I stay where I am because I'm really, really good? But I really want to take a shot at a college assistant's job and maybe get a college job, men's or women's.'
"I know a ton of college coaches on the men's side, especially, that would just give their right arm to coach in the NBA,'' Auriemma said. "It's just -- you know, there's always that other thing that seems like people want to try to experience. And I probably had that in me for the longest time, like anybody else would. I just have one huge advantage over everybody else: I never had to make that decision because nobody ever asked me.''
Today, at the Alamodome, he was asked about the possibility of going to the Nets as Krzyzewski's NBA assistant.
"Unless Mike called and said he would give me $2 million a year to be his assistant with the Nets, because that's the greatest job in the history of sports: being an NBA assistant,'' Auriemma said. "I may have the best job in all of sports. But I'll tell you what, you gotta [look] pretty hard to find a better job [than] an assistant in the NBA to a great guy."
It seemed like an idyllic lifestyle.
"You get up. You go to practice. You're working with the best players. Watching film. Doing individual work. Go to the game," Auriemma said, wistfully. "[You're] trying to figure out how to beat these guys [in the NBA] who are great. Game's over. No media. No press conference. Nobody's asking you why you suck.
"Go out to dinner. Nice glass of wine, go home and do it again the next day," Auriemma said. "C'mon, that's like dying and going to heaven."
And if Krzyzewski called with an offer? What would it take?
"Two million," Auriemma said, half-jokingly. Then, leaning into his microphone and speaking directly into the cameras, Auriemma added, "Not taking it for any less. You hear that, Mike? Two million."
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