Friday, May 21, 2004

Sports

‘Few Sweepstakes’ begin again if Montgomery leaves Stanford

Steve Bergum - Staff writer

The Mark Few Sweepstakes, as Gonzaga University athletic director Mike Roth likes to call it, unexpectedly kicked into high gear again on Thursday when it was learned that Mike Montgomery will leave Stanford University to become the next head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Montgomery's stunning decision – which is expected to be announced today at a press conference called by the Warriors – resulted in early speculation about a successor to the longtime Cardinal coach, and Few's name – not so stunningly – was among the most prominent to surface.

“Again, it doesn't surprise me,” Roth said after learning a San Francisco Chronicle story published Thursday morning had mentioned the names of Few, Nevada's Trent Johnson and Oregon's Ernie Kent as three Stanford A.D. Ted Leland might consider in his upcoming search to replace Montgomery. Few's name has also surfaced in reports from ESPN.

But Roth quickly added he had not received a call asking for permission to talk to Few, the Bulldogs' immensely successful fifth-year head coach, who has been considered for several high-profile jobs since taking over at GU. And he gave every indication he doesn't expect one.

“No calls, no hits, no runs and no concerns,” Roth said.

Few, who along with his wife Marcy, is scheduled to leave this morning for a week-long Mexican vacation, was not available for comment on Thursday.

And Bulldogs assistant Leon Rice, who, along with his wife, Robin, is scheduled to travel to Mexico with the Few's and at least two other couples, said he had heard of no change in those vacation plans.

Roth said he spoke to Few Thursday afternoon.

“And he said he hasn't talked to anybody about (the Stanford job),” Roth added.

Several sources close to Few said the Stanford job is one he would probably consider. But one added it would, “by no means be a slam-dunk (certainty)” that he would take it, should it be offered.

And another, pointing to the high cost of living in the Bay Area and Stanford's relatively modest salary scale, questioned whether the quality of life there would suit Few, his wife and their two young sons.

Roth said he sat down with Few shortly after the Zags, 28-3, closed the 2003-04 season with a disappointing 91-72 loss to Nevada in the second round of the NCAA Tournament and reworked his long-term GU contract, just like he has done each spring since Few took over the Bulldogs program from Dan Monson.

“Like before, we did it to reward Mark for all of the tremendous things he has done for the university and not because we were worried about what some other school might do,” Roth explained.

Roth refused to discuss the details of the “tweaking” that was done to Few's contract. But his previous deal, which ran through 2011, was reportedly worth more than $400,000 annually.

Few, 41, has made it known in the past that he is happy at Gonzaga, where he has put together an impressive 133-32 record, while helping build the Bulldogs program into one of the most respected in the nation.

But he has also made it known that he is driven by the challenge of winning a national championship, and there is a general belief that the Zags might never have a better chance to do that than they had last season, when they finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and their roster boasted three potential NBA players in seniors Blake Stepp and Cory Violette, and junior Ronny Turiaf.

Turiaf, the Zags' leading scorer and second-leading rebounder, has since decided to return to GU for his senior season. And Few has said his latest Bulldogs recruiting class ranks as the deepest and most talented in school history.

Adding to the intrigue surrounding Montgomery's decision is the trickledown effect and the possibility of Few getting involved in the Oregon job should Kent leave Oregon and return to Stanford, where he once worked as an assistant under Montgomery.

Few is an Oregon graduate, and his parents still live in Creswell, Ore.