The Mick Cronin to UNLV storyline won't go away and continues to develop into a complicated situation with reports being passed around that bring little clarity. Let's do our best to catch-up.
Entering today, we knew the Cincinnati head coach visited Las Vegas yesterday, meeting with UNLV officials, expressing genuine interest in the opportunity offered with the Runnin' Rebels. We also knew that, pending approval from the University of Nevada Board of Regents, UNLV was expected to make a contract offer to Cronin in the range of $2 million, with an expected $1 million thrown in annually by Under Armour (who is looking to branch out west), pushing Cronin's financial haul up to $3 million annually.
Cincinnati, meanwhile, had been mostly silent with athletic director Mike Bohn and university president Santa Ono avoiding public statements until Ono shared on Twitter that they were making efforts to retain Cronin. It became known that Cronin and UNLV did not reach a deal following the day's events, setting the stage for the conversation to continue into today.
I've been in touch with AD Mike Bohn and he is doing everything he can to negotiate with Mick to keep him in Cincinnati.— Santa J. Ono (@PrezOno) March 23, 2016
Today, the story got a little more complicated starting with Cincinnati Enquirer's Tom Groeschen reporting that Cronin was headed back to Cincinnati, seeming to imply that perhaps the momentum behind a potential deal had died down.
JUST IN: Cronin says he is headed back to Cincinnati today, says nothing happening today. Sources say no deal with UNLV. Story to come.— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) March 24, 2016
However, shortly after, Mark Anderson with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, went to Twitter to share that UNLV athletic director Tina Kunzer-Murphy had a meeting with Cronin this morning to further discuss the open position with UNLV.
As the day progressed, that meeting seemingly was drawn out longer than many expected and UNLV reportedly was pulling out all the stops.
Despite the hints of big news, nobody really knew anything in an otherwise rather public courting. One thing that was clear, was that Cronin spent a good chunk of time in Vegas negotiating/discussing the job and yet no official deal was completed before Cronin traveled back to Ohio in the evening on a commercial flight.
Put the Flight tracker away folks. Mick Cronin is back in Cincinnati.— Chad Brendel (@ChadBrendel) March 25, 2016
So, that brings us to Cincinnati's role in all of this. As I mentioned above, Ono appears to be a part of the #StickwithMick movement and apparently has Bohn on board, making every effort he can to retain Cronin. The general consensus is that Cronin's frustrations stem from a lack of resources for his recruiting efforts, a lack of funds for upgrading locker rooms and possibly the delay on the Fifth Third Arena (and other general basketball program) renovations in favor of a football program UC is trying to spruce up for a potential Big 12 invite.
The money being proposed by UNLV is great and all, but I don't believe the paycheck is Cronin's ultimate play here. Either way, as we discussed yesterday, the money may not be that easy to move around for basketball at the current juncture, but that may not be a death sentence to #StickwithMick.
After all, Cronin left Las Vegas without an official deal, which is clearly opening the door for a final push from Bohn that demonstrates to Cronin that the pieces are/will be in place for Cronin to take the basketball program to the next level.
The fact that Cronin isn't already the Runnin' Rebels coach further supports the narrative, in my eyes, that Cronin wants to be a Bearcat, but just needs that final expression of support. What is that final piece? Nobody really knows. It could Bohn agreeing to all of Cronin's supposed concerns, some of them or something entirely different. Regardless, it should calm some fans to know that Bohn has apparently been actively in contact with Cronin through the process, even if it's at the expense of the fans' sanity.
#UC AD Mike Bohn: 'We have stayed in touch with our coach, and Mick and I agreed in advance to not fuel speculation by making statements.'— Tom Groeschen (@TomGroeschen) March 24, 2016
UNLV Players Threatening to Transfer
If you've been on Twitter over the last day or two, you know there are two different factions of Cronin vocalizers. One group seems to believe that Cronin isn't worth the trouble and that perhaps he has peaked at the program, while the other wants Cronin back, at whatever cost, so Cincinnati can make another run at a deep tournament appearance.
Well, let's put the current UNLV players in the former...
Taylor Bern of the Las Vegas Sun told FOX19 that UNLV players are not big fans of Cronin, feeling UNLV legend, and current assistant coach, Stacey Augmon should be the next head coach for the Runnin' Rebels. The thinking is that the hiring of Cronin could result in a mass exodus of sorts from the current UNLV roster through transfers. If that's the case, Cronin could be essentially starting from scratch in Vegas and that has to factor, in some capacity, to either Cronin's thought process or that of the UNLV athletic officials, right?
Where We Stand Now
The saga (can we call it that?) isn't over yet. Bohn is supposed to meet with Cronin sometime "soon" and it's very clear through all of this that UNLV has gone to great effort to win-over Cronin and that Cronin himself has at least some interest in what the Runnin' Rebels have to offer.
As for the next steps, we are stuck waiting once again. UNLV sounds incredibly positive about the meetings and negotiations. Many national pundits seem to feel the same way, yet Cronin still came back to Cincinnati without a deal and that means something.
Cincinnati will have an opportunity to counter and that may be all they need, if Bohn is truly trying to retain Cronin. Meanwhile, UNLV is excited, their players aren't, Cincinnati fans appear torn and Cronin will likely be the center of attention for another day at least. After all, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, citing sources, reports that a decision from Cronin is expected no later than Friday.
Ready for another day of this?
I'm not entirely sure where my car keys are but, thanks to Twitter, I know exactly where Mick Cronin has been every moment the past 24 hours— Jack700WLW (@CincyJack) March 25, 2016
Oh, and Cronin's been linked with the Pittsburgh head coach vacancy.