Matt Youmans of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Friday afternoon that South Florida had focused the glare of their head coaching search on Las Vegas, offering UNLV head coach a five-year contract worth $1.2 million per season. Word began trickling out late Friday evening, though, that the report was inaccurate — Joey Knight of the Tampa Bay Times revealed that no offer had been made to Rice. Knight followed up near midnight to confirm there was still no word of an offer to Rice.
What is going on in South Florida? After the school paid five figures to a search firm to find Stan Heath’s successor, only to then rescind their offer to the firm’s choice — Manhattan’s Steve Masiello — once it was revealed Masiello had not earned an undergraduate degree, it seems there has been a whole lot of confusion clouding the search and decision-making process at the AAC school. If there wasn’t an offer, why would USF sources refute the report hours after it first appeared? One would think USF officials would immediately shoot down the rumor, as it would hurt their chances with the actual candidates.
What really is clear, though, is that this is quickly turning into the weirdest coaching search in recent memory. Youmans followed up his initial report by speaking with UNLV’s athletic director, who confirmed Rice does indeed have a contract offer from USF, so clearly the people in positions to make the decisions in Tampa need to get together and resolve to stick to the same story. This search has so far been strange and handled quite poorly, and Friday’s back-and-forth regarding Rice’s non-offer offer could potentially impact whomever emerges as USF’s top candidate.