UCLA formally announced Mick Cronin as its next head men’s basketball coach on Tuesday, which means Jamie Dixon will not be the next UCLA coach.
During the Bruins’ three-and-a-half month search, Dixon was briefly the front-runner and the interest was said to be mutual, but an $8 million buyout that UCLA refused to meet and TCU declined to lower led to an impasse. UCLA moved on, and now Dixon returns to TCU after publicly flirting with another school.
Which begs the question: How do you return to your current school after negotiating with another one?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but Dixon on Tuesday offered his.
— Jamie Dixon (@CoachDixon) April 9, 2019
As I said above, there is no blanket solution because all situations are different. In this case, Dixon was considering leaving a school with eight NCAA tournament appearances for a school with 11 NCAA tournament championships, which also happens to be home for him and his wife.
Most TCU fans will understand Dixon’s interest in the job, but even if the circumstances weren’t so obvious — if Dixon were considering leaving “just” for a bigger conference and/or more money — most fans would understand because they, too, have considered leaving their current gigs for bigger and better ones at some point, too.
Again, that speaks for most fans, not all. There will be some angry with Dixon for reminding them that TCU means more to them than it does to him, and that’s okay, too.
But here’s the thing: Dixon was honest. Even if his honest explanation will still leave some (or half, or most) TCU fans with hurt feelings, avoiding the truth or insulting the fans’ intelligence would have left everyone feeling bitter.
By being upfront about his interest, Dixon allows everyone to acknowledge it and move on, turning an issue that would have lingered over the rest of his TCU tenure like a black cloud into a temporary one. When next season starts, either Dixon will win and TCU fans will forgive him, or he’ll lose and they’ll be angry with him — but they’ll be angry with him for losing, not for losing and insulting their intelligence.
In other words, he’ll be treated like a regular coach.