Brad Stevens: Will he stay or will he go?

197883.jpg

Brad Stevens: Will he stay or will he go?

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Before tonights National Championship game, lets rev up the DeLorean to 88 MPH and take a quick trip to March Madness 2022:

To be honest, I don't know much about what the world is like.

I dont know if weve finally gotten our hands on some flying cars. Or warp zones. I dont know if we now understand the long-term effects of cell phone use andor 5-Hour Energy.

Will Coors Light ever stop making those fake press conference commercials? I have no idea.

Same goes for the NCAA tournament.

Eleven years from now, maybe the fields expanded to 256 teams (and thats just the play-in round) . . . Maybe 31-year-old Kalin Lucas is somehow still eligible at Michigan State . . . Maybe every win of John Caliparis careers has been stricken from the record . . . Maybe an 82-year-old Dick Vitale is still on TV screaming about the jump ball rule . . . Who knows?

But for all we dont know, theres one thing Im fairly sure of:

Brad Stevens wont be coaching at Butler.

At some point between now and then, Stevens will take a bigger and better offer from a bigger and better school and bail on the 12-year extension he signed after last season. Maybe hell replace Coach K at Duke, or Ben Howland at UCLA. Or maybe hell take over at Indiana, the team he grew up rooting for.

Eventually hell get that offer he cant refuse, his "dream job," and he wont look back.

Thats just always been my assumption. I think most people feel the same way.

Coaches like Brad Stevens dont stay at schools like Butler. They never have, and never will. Hed be insane to turn down those other schools, and theyd be insane to not make an offer.

After all, in his four years at Butler, Stevens has a record of 117-24. Over that time hes become the third-youngest coach to have a 30-win season. Last year, he broke the NCAA record for most wins in the first three years. He became the second-youngest head coach to make the National Championship. This year, at 34, he became the youngest coach to go to two Final Fours. He set the unofficial record for most awkward involvement in a post game mosh pit. He's got serious potential.

In the last two tournaments, Stevens has taken a lower seed with presumably less talent and beaten Jim Boeheim, Tom Izzo, Jamie Dixon, Bo Ryan and Billy Donovan. Despite his age, and unimposing presence, hes in complete control. Hes a little bit like Tiger Woods in the way he talks. Everythings casual, but completely calculated.

He gets his players. Im sure thats the age, but either way, hes got them figured out. Hell dance around in the locker room, throw around chest bumps after a big win, and at times you swear hes the student manager stealing a moment with the superstars. But all the while, Stevens maintains total respect. He gets it.

What else can you say? This guy just took Butler to back-to-back Final Fours, back-to-back championship games. He might even win a title. But win or lose, this isnt a fluke. It cant be. This is beyond Cinderella. Hes turned this into a real program.

And now . . .

I dont know.

Maybe this is the start of something real? Why does it stop here?

You have to wonder: Is there a chance he doesn't leave? Could he just go nuts and turn this into Duke Midwest?

After back-to-back Final Fours, and his reputation around the country, players will come to Butler. Parents will want their kids to come to Butler. Obviously, the Hoosiers are an unbelievable local draw, but youre nuts if you dont think Stevens will start making an impact on IU recruiting. The Hoosiers have history, but Stevens has reality. And, anyway, its not all about Indiana anymore. People will come, Brad.

Last week on TV, I saw that George Masons put up 32 new buildings since their Final Four trip in 2006; they generated 600 million of free advertising. Butlers now done it twice, and has a far more sustainable product. Win or lose tonight, the money will come in. Sponsorships will come in. People are going to want to be apart of thee Brad Stevens brand. Facilities will improve. Talent will improve. The team will keep winning.

And after winning, why else does a coach leave? I mean, once youve been to back-to-back Final Fours, what more can these other schools offer you?

More money?

Stevens will never have to worry about money again.

More recognition?

Spotlight doesnt get much brighter than tonight. Or last year.

More tradition?

I dont know. Would you rather spend the rest of your career living up to UCLA or Duke history, or being Butler history?

Why go to a place were they expectdemand things to be done their way, when you can make your own rules. Be your own tradition. Every program starts somewhere, right?

UCLA only had two winning seasons in the 15 years before John Wooden showed up. Duke had been to only one Final Four in the 20 years before Coach K came on. And no, Im not saying Stevens is John Wooden, just that not every storied college program has always been storied. It starts somewhere, with someone.

Is Brad Stevens that someone with Butler? Would he have signed that extension if at least a part of him didnt envision staying in the Horizon Conference through 2022?

Or is it just a matter of time before, hes accomplished all he can,' and that dream job offer comes by way of Indiana or Duke or UCLA, and he just "has to" accept?

Only time will tell.

But for now, I guess he just has to get through tonight.
Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

usatsi_9412070.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels

Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox’ 6-2 win over the Angels:

QUOTES

* “He just had very good command the entire night. Stayed ahead in the count [and] pitched to all quadrants of the strike zone. He used his four-seamer in on some powerful right-handed hitters in their lineup.” John Farrell on Rick Porcello’s performance.

* “We needed a win bad and swung the bats well and played good defense. That’s a big win for us.” Rick Porcello said after his win in an interview with NESN.

* “24 hours ago we were probably in a much different place mentally after a ball game like tonight.” Farrell on the win.

“That was probably the first time I sat on off-speed pitches this whole year. I took a chance, took a gamble.” Jackie Bradley Jr. said on his home run.

NOTES

* Rick Porcello completed his first game in a Red Sox uniform in the 6-2 win. The CG was the fifth of his career and his first since he threw three in 2014. The righty has 14 wins, one win shy of tying his career high.

* Xander Bogaerts had his first multi extra-base hit performance of the season since June 11. He’s only done that twice this season. He extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

* David Ortiz logged his 85th RBI of the season in the win and Mookie Betts his 67th. Heading into Friday night’s game, the two were one of five pairs of teammates ranking in the top 20 in RBI. The list includes Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story, Adam Duvall and Jay Bruce and Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.

* Dustin Pedroia has now reached base safely in 32 straight games.

STARS

1) Rick Porcello

Porcello had his first complete game in a Red Sox uniform, stopping Boston’s losing skid at four games.

2) Xander Bogaerts

Bogaerts finished with a double and a home run -- the only Boston hitter with multiple hits. He also led the Red Sox with three RBI and scoring twice in the win.

3) Dustin Pedroia

In addition to walking in his first two at-bats, Pedroia had a base hit -- and another walk -- scoring twice on the night.

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

ap_16212129505474.jpg

First impressions of the Red Sox' 6-2 win over the Angels

First impressions of the Red Sox 6-2 win over Los Angeles:

Rick Porcello is not fazed by his fellow staff members’ struggles.

Although his teammates continue to deal with frustrations on almost a nightly basis, Porcello got the job done and put Boston in a position to win once again.

The second-inning double by Daniel Nava should have been a single, had Jackie Bradley Jr. not misplayed a funny hop. If that hit is a single, the next ground ball is a double -- and the following grounder ends the inning.

One of the most impressive components of his outing was dealing with Cole Kalhoun, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols to finish his outing after already facing them three times on the night.

Xander Bogaerts had his first multi-hit game in a week.

Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t a long time -- but that can feel like a long time given the shortstop’s output this year.

It was also his first multi extra-base hit performance since June 11.

Oddly enough, those are his only two games of that kind this season.

In addition to the win, Porcello did the bullpen a favor.

Not necessarily because the relievers needed rest, but with Ziegler’s last two rough nights, they could use a break.

Although Joe Kelly and Clay Buchholz got warm late, it was more so to keep them fresh for the coming games since they haven’t thrown much.

Additionally, he gave an example for the Red Sox starting rotation that they are in fact capable of going the distance.

Tim Lincecum is barely a shell of what he used to be.

That first inning was hard to watch. The former Cy Young Award-winner threw eight straight balls, and somehow managed to work past. Even his final throw to first base in he opening frame looked like it was going off the mark.

Just hard to watch in general, which made it all the more shocking that the Red Sox couldn’t score against him.

Good for them that he never adjusted, and they took advantage of it in the ensuing innings.