Shaka Gone: Why "Done Deal" Is A Big Deal

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The last four days were completely and totally avoidable, and now Marquette is left to clean up the wreckage and continue on with the search for a new men's basketball coach.

If you're reading this, you're also no doubt following the comings and goings of the Marquette coaching search in the various corners of the Internet. You're, of course, also aware of the Great Twitter Crapstorm of 2014, which began on Monday when Jim "IWB" Ganzer tweeted that he was "predicting" that Shaka Smart would be Marquette's next coach, rose to a fever pitch when a student at MUTV tweeted that Coach Smart was on a plane to Milwaukee on Monday afternoon, and then spiked to an even higher temp when Ganzer later (infamously) tweeted that Smart to Marquette was a "done deal." Ultimately, the whole thing ground to a screeching halt last night, when Gary Parrish confirmed what many of us have been expecting since Tuesday:

Parrish's story, which both includes a brief mention of the "done deal" report and informs us that CBS Sports' sources urged patience on the story, was quickly confirmed by ESPN's Jeff Goodman and by Mark Strotman of Paint Touches, and just like that, Marquette finds itself turning the search to replace Buzz Williams to other candidates.

Just how close Marquette came to closing the deal with Coach Smart is a matter of debate -- I've seen it suggested that Shaka had accepted MU's offer, but that acceptance was contingent on Marquette hiring a president first, and I've also seen it suggested that this suggestion is total bullshit -- but ours isn't to attempt to resolve that debate, both because we're not (and probably never will be) privy to that information, and because it's ultimately irrelevant.

What matters, and what's potentially damaging, is that the report of a "done deal" was made in the first place. We're not journalists by trade and we don't pretend to do journalism on this site, so we'll leave it to other people, like Strotty, to break down the cardinals sins that were committed on Monday night. (But permit us this very brief note: Ganzer claims to have had "multiple" sources behind his "done deal" report, but acknowledged on his message board that none of those sources were from Marquette. I mean, unless he was talking to Mr. and Mrs. Smart, how in the blue hell do you run with "done deal" when you haven't received confirmation from anyone -- ANYONE -- at MU?)

The problem, questions of responsible journalism aside, is that the premature "DONE DEAL" report caused trouble for Marquette on two related fronts. The first: it undercut (perhaps not profoundly, but in some measure) Marquette's ability to negotiate with Coach Smart. Suppose that MU and Coach Smart had some kind of verbal understanding, but needed to iron out some of the finer details of the formal written contract. But people have already been told it's a done deal, so if there's a hangup that leads to the breakdown of the negotiations, people will look at MU and wonder: "How did you screw this up? It was a done deal." Obviously, that makes it more difficult to finalize a contract.

That's a minor issue, though. The major issue is that the shoddy reporting caused what should have been a mostly-private job offer to turn into a public spectacle. I mean, think about this: when Buzz Williams was hired at Marquette six years ago, MU took a run at some serious up-and-comers in the coaching industry: there was a push (albeit a brief one) made for Sean Miller, and the tires were kicked on Tony Bennett, and so on. Do you remember reading about those unsuccessful attempts at the time? Was Gary Parrish writing columns about how Sean Miller could barely be bothered to listen to Marquette's pitch?

Nope. And, for sure, social media has changed a lot in the last six years, and we definitely would've heard something about Marquette taking a shot at Shaka. But without the nonsense of Monday night, things wouldn't have escalated to the point where our No. 1 target was very, very publicly rejecting Marquette.

That's what stings here. None of us can know what was going to happen if this dalliance with Coach Smart didn't become this bizarre and public "thanks but no thanks." But, somehow, I don't think Bill Cords would have been holding a press conference to say, more than once, that he's been pleased with how much interest there is in the head coaching position, and that there's been a lot of interest in the position, and have we mentioned how many people are interested in the position?

And, again: maybe it's not that profound, at the end of the day, but Marquette's position has been compromised by this fiasco. And it all could have been easily avoided.

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