First let's give props to some fantastic reporting by the Tampa Tribune's Joey Johnston, who says that, after Manhattan coach Steve Masiello had a "previously undetected discrepancy" in his background check, and will not be the men's basketball coach at USF. Johnston reports that "the document was signed, but it was contingent on the verification of his résumé."
According to sources, Steve Masiello, 36, had agreed to a five-year contract with USF and signed the deal, believed to be worth more than $1 million per season, leaving only final details to be worked out. That background-check information was discovered by Eastman & Beaudine, a Texas-based search firm that was paid $60,000 by USF to find candidates to replace Stan Heath, who was fired on March 14.
Masiello, 36, had agreed to a five-year contract with USF and signed the deal, believed to be worth more than $1 million per season, leaving only final details to be worked out.Earlier in the day, after reporting by ESPN.com and CBSSports.com, it appeared that Masiello to USF was a done deal.
It seemed perfect. Some people portrayed Masiello as a modern version of Pitino, his Hall of Fame mentor, whether it's his organizational skills, his courtside intensity or his custom-made Italian suits.
Others compared him to Florida's Billy Donovan, another Pitino protégé, a prodigy, a tireless recruiter and worker, a coach who thrives on proving people wrong.
The Quadrangle, Manhattan College's student newspaper, reported Tuesday morning that Masiello met with his players to tell them he had accepted the USF job. After that, Jaspers senior guard Michael Alvarado posted on Twitter, "I'm going to apply for the HC job at Manhattan.'' Meanwhile, according to Masiello's Twitter account, he began following several of the USF players.
But there was never any official confirmation by USF or Manhattan on Masiello's hiring. As day turned into night, concerns were raised about the potential deal.
There were no such concerns earlier in the day.
So why in the hell would you offer a coach a contract BEFORE YOU DID A BACKGROUND CHECK?? I get it if someone is applying to be a cashier at Target and you have them fill out some paperwork before they go pee in a cup, but before lavishing millions of dollars on one of the most high-profile people at your institution? Shouldn't you know everything before you hand them a contract in the first place? Did we learn nothing from George O'Leary and Notre Dame? My God, what are we doing??
Also if there's a problem and the background check is done first, you don't potentially embarrass a rising star of a coach that's connected to one of the most respected coaching trees in America. What coaching candidate with options is going to want to come here now seeing how obscenely unprofessionally Masiello was treated? Who wants to come to a place where you get humiliated after you agree to terms?? And if you do the background check first and find a problem, you can deal with it before contract terms are well-known enough to be made public.
Also, when you're paying a search firm $60,000, on top of the $100,000 you paid them to have exactly ONE candidate interview before your AD search committee... aren't we compensating them to make sure that things like this don't happen? If not, what in God's name are we paying them for??
Our media management yesterday was beyond atrocious too. I mean why would any of our fans get their hopes up about an young, exciting, winning coach when CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo were all reporting this was a done deal? USF could have tamped it all down with a simple statement akin to "we have no news to report on our coaching search at this time, nor do we anticipate..." or a few phone calls to some of the respected national reporters that were saying this was done. Can you blame them for printing from a source close to and/or actually from Masiello or his agent that it's a done deal? He had signed a contract!!!
Instead we got dead silence all day. Yes the leaks about the contract & details were coming from Masiello's side, but that doesn't mean they exist in a vacuum. When you don't say anything, you allow the message to get controlled around you. You could have saved the university plenty of national embarrassment by putting out a simple statement or making some phone calls (calls every sports media person has received before) to give some more information to writers. Instead you let others control the message, and are going to get lambasted across America today by every national college basketball writer. And I don't blame them one iota.
USF has screwed the pooch before, but this one might take the cake. The first major hire of Mark Harlan's career, who has been on the job officially for all of two days, and it goes full dumpster fire already. For a fan base where there is not an ounce of goodwill left for very good reason, this might have been the hardest punch to the stomach we've been dealt. To tease USF fans with a young, exciting coach with a great pedigree and a winning track record and then have the rug pulled out at the last second? How many times are we expected to get off the mat?? Harlan was supposed to be the guy to take us in a new direction. And now he and Eastman-Beaudine USF'ed the hell out of it on the first big decision??
Just check the #ThingsLessDepressingThanUSFAthletics hashtag: Dustin Diamond's career trajectory. The 76ers. Kafka. The first 10 minutes of The Lion King and Bambi. You get the idea.
There's only one way to not screw this up now: Hit this hire out of the park. But besides Shaka Smart (which seems highly unlikely), I can't think of an available name that makes the pain and embarrassment of this go away. If USF drags fired Arkansas coach John Pelphrey up there to replace fired Arkansas coach Stan Heath, let's just stop playing sports and go home. I mean seriously. Who the hell is buying tickets or Sun Dome naming rights for that??
No matter what the red flag was in Masiello's past, USF still screwed up this hire. If it was bad enough where he can't work here, it was something that should have been known before he was handed a contract to sign. And our inability to get out in front of it was just negligence. And we're most likely going to be a national laughingstock all day today.
We might have to redo the brackets, because this might be The Most USF Thing Ever.
*Note: An earlier version of this story said "USF Reneges" in the title, and that was removed. What happened does not fit the definition of renege, so we corrected it. We regret the overreach.