It's still not being made clear what exactly has happened over the last 48 hours regarding OSU Athletic Director Bob de Carolis and current San Diego head basketball coach Billy Grier. It's likely that Grier will be offered the job at Oregon State, but will he accept?
While we're waiting for that call to be made, let's take a look at some things he's done.First of all, he's got Oregon roots. That's definitely a plus. He's a graduate of Cottage Grove High School in Cottage Grove, Oregon, and began coaching there as the school's freshman boys basketball coach in 1986. He moved up the ranks at Cottege Grove High School until he became the junior varsity coach and varsity assistant several years later.
Grier left Cottage Grove to be the head coach at Creswell High School during the 1990-91 season. He played two years in junior college (Central Oregon and Southwestern Oregon), then transferred to Oregon where he received a B.S. degree in Leisure Studies and Services in 1990.
From Creswell High School he moved to the University of Gonzaga, where he was an assistant coach for 16 years. His career at Gonzaga started in 1992 under head coach Dan Fitzgerald where he served as the restricted-earnings assistant for six years. He was elevated to a full-time assistant for the 1997-98 season when Dan Monson took over the head coaching reigns. During his two seasons under Monson, the Bulldogs went 52-17, won back-to-back WCC titles, went to the 1998 NIT Sweet Sixteen and made it to the 1999 NCAA Elite Eight.
In the summer of 1999, Monson accepted the job at Minnesota, moving Mark Few to head coach and Grier to top assistant. The coaching staff stayed that way for eight years, and accumulated an overall record of 211-52. During this time, Gonzaga won the WCC regular-season title seven times; the WCC Tournament title seven times; advanced to the NCAA Tournament eight times, including three trips to the Sweet Sixteen; and finished ranked in the top-10 of the final AP poll three times (2004-2006).
Although Grier spent this time as an assistant coach, he had many responsibilities. He served as the team's "defensive coordinator" for ten years, and was also responsible for ten recruiting classes.
He also successfully developed both post players (1997-2003) and perimeter players (2003-2007). Post players Bakari Hendrix (1998) and Casey Calvary (2001) were both WCC Players of the Year. Perimeter players he worked with included Derek Raivio (2007), the WCC Player of the Year; Adam Morrison (2006), a 1st team All-American and WCC Player of the Year; and Blake Stepp (2004), a 2nd team All-American and two-time WCC Player of the Year.
So, when the University of San Diego fired their head coach Ben Holland at the end of last season, they snatched Grier from conference rival Gonzaga. Upon his hiring, Grier told the press the following:
"The thing about Gonzaga, and some people think that there is a magic recipe, but that program took a lot of time and hard work, and didn't evolve overnight," said Grier, who was on Gonzaga's staff for 16 years. "I see a lot of potential in this program here [San Diego's], with the things that you have to sell, including the city, the campus and the arena."
In his one year at San Diego, Grier accumulated a 22-14 record against one of the toughest schedules San Deigo has seen in years. The Toreros went 11-3 in WCC play, including a win over Gonzaga that sent them to the NCAA tournament as a No. 13 seed. In the tournament, Grier led San Diego to a 70-69 upset of No. 4 seed UConn, but would eventually lose to Western Kentucky in the second round. Here's the game winning shot by De'Jon Jackson:
What a nice job by Grier to put the Toreros on the map in only one year. Just a year ago, the Toreros finished 6-8 in the WCC.
Even though Grier doesn't have as much head coaching experience as Oregon State was wanting, he seems like a great program. He's a skilled recruiter who watched the emergence of the Gonzaga program unfold, and knows that it takes hard work to reach success.