Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said he expects plenty of free advice during his search for a new men's basketball coach.
He also wants serious input from respected members of the college basketball community.
Well, here's both. With exclamation points.
Maryland coach Mark Turgeon thinks that his right-hand man on the Terrapins bench — former Husker assistant Scott Spinelli — deserves full consideration if Nebraska is serious about ending its 13-year wallow in the wilderness.
"Unless Nebraska has got a head coach picked out who is proven, like Dana Altman, then they need to hire Scott Spinelli," Turgeon said Monday from College Park, Md.
"I've been in this business long enough to know schools and what they need to do to be successful. I think Scott Spinelli is one of the few guys who can get it going at Nebraska."
The doubters will immediately note that Spinelli, 45, hasn't been a head coach since a six-year run at two prep schools in the 1990s.
"I think Nebraska needs to take a wild card. They've done that 'other thing.'"
That "other thing" is to hire a mid-major coach with no sense of the area and then settle in for a six-year cycle of modest returns before hitting the reset button.
So who is Turgeon to stick his nose in Nebraska's business, and what does he know about Husker hoops?
Turgeon didn't insert himself in the conversation. I called him, and it was because he has deep insight into how Nebraska has operated.
The Topeka, Kan., native played against Nebraska while at Kansas from 1984 to '87. He coached against Nebraska while an assistant to Larry Brown and Roy Williams at KU. He faced Nebraska again as a head coach from 2007 to '11 at Texas A&M.
And if Turgeon would need his own set of eyes on something at NU, he could call his dad, who has lived in Lincoln for about 10 years after remarrying a Nebraskan.
Here is Turgeon's assessment of how the college coaching world views the Husker job:
"We all know it's a tough job. But you've got a community that is passionate about their teams, which makes it a good job. And it looks like you have an athletic director who will support it financially. That gives it a chance."
For Nebraska to break its cycle of mediocrity, some suggest an underdog and recruiting fiend such as Spinelli is worth the risk, especially with his insight into the area.
"Since he knows Nebraska and the dynamics of it, that puts him ahead of the curve," Turgeon said. "There is no question in my mind he is ready to be a head coach.
"It's just whether there is an athletic director out there with guts enough to hire him."
Though Spinelli spent just three seasons at Nebraska, Turgeon can't get him to stop raving about it.
"For the six years we've been together, he talks about Nebraska all the time and how much he loves it," Turgeon said. "He loved the football program, loved the community, loved the people.
"That hasn't wavered one time, and I know his wife, Lynn, feels the same way. That's important when you head into a job. You've got to love where you are."
Turgeon hired Spinelli off Nebraska's staff in April 2006 on the recommendation of coaching friends who touted him as "a bulldog of a recruiter" and energetic motivator.
Both proved true, but there was one surprise.
"I had no idea he was such a good basketball coach X's and O's wise," Turgeon said. "I've obviously been around some really good ones. Scott is as good as any of them."
If there has been criticism of Spinelli, it's because he works so hard that at times it has led to some disorganization. But Turgeon calls him "mellowed and more filtered" after their time together at Wichita State, Texas A&M and Maryland, and experienced in how to manage a successful office.
Now, for Nebraska fans, some magic words about the Huskers' No. 1 priority: recruiting.
"Scott has connections all over the Midwest and all over the East Coast," Turgeon said. "To make it at Nebraska, you've got to have connections. You can't take kids just because they are the best available at the time."
Turgeon said Spinelli has repeatedly succeeded in getting high-quality players to commit even though he isn't a head coach.
"It's out of trust alone in his relationships," Turgeon said. "When he's a head coach, I would think these people would want to send him players even more. I know he can get players to Nebraska."
So let's review.
On your checklist of things helpful to win at Nebraska, a highly successful coach at a name school who grew up in a royalty program gives Spinelli high marks for quality recruiting, connections in recruiting, X's and O's, personality and local knowledge of a difficult situation.
Yet sources tell me that Nebraska still hasn't contacted Spinelli. That's another air ball Husker hoops can't afford.
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