When Oregon St. Athletic Director Bob DeCarolis announced he had had a change of heart, or opinion, about Craig Robinson, and relieved the former head of the Beaver basketball program weeks after giving him an endorsement for another season to attempt to turn the program around, despite the fact that rightly or not, and fairly or not, the programs' investors and customers, and subsequently, its players, had variously given votes of no confidence, he invited the press and the public to send names of whom they wanted as a replacement.
The popular initial choice was Ben Howland, last at UCLA, but after Howland and De Carolis couldn't come together on economic terms in light of the magnitude of other issues, and Howland withdrew his interest, the 3 names that repeatedly surfaced were Arizona assistant and Oregon native Damon Stoudamire, former Portland Trail Blazer Terry Porter, and former Arizona St. assistant Eric Musselman, all 3 of whom also have NBA experience.
Former Beaver great Lester Connor was also a popular candidate, but De Carolis would have had to get approval to waive the degree requirement for the job, and essentially was out of the running for that reason.
How realistic any of those candidates ever really were we will likely never know, as it now appears De Carolis has narrowed his list to 3 finalists, and could announce a choice early this week. And they aren't the names most expected, or were calling for.
The list includes Travis DeCuire, associate head coach at California; Mike Hopkins, assistant coach at Syracuse, and Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle, and De Carolis has interviewed each of them, as well as having a conference call with them and another member of his internal search committee on Friday.
Two have regional ties.
DeCuire is a northwest native, from Sammamish, WA, and played point guard at Montana from 1991-94, earning all-Big Sky honors as a junior and senior.
He was head coach at Green River Community College in Seattle for 2 seasons, and then spent 5 years as an assistant coach at Old Dominion. DeCuire has been at California the last 7 seasons, as an assistant to Mike Montgomery, who retired at the end of this past season.
Tinkle, 48, is the head coach at Montana, and has compiled a 158-89 record in 8 seasons. The Grizzlies won back to back Big Sky titles in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, advancing to the NCAA tournament as a result, and was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year as a result.
Tinkle also has led the Grizz to victory against Robinson's Beavers, and his name has been somewhere on most reasonable lists since calls for Robinson's replacement began, though not usually near the top.
Hopkins, 44, does have some west coast roots, being from Laguna Hills, CA. He played at Syracuse, starting at point guard for 2 years, and has also been on Orangemen head coach Jim Boeheim's staff the last 19 years.