Big name or not, Duck fans shouldn't discount Altman

Big name or not, Duck fans shouldn't discount Altman

EUGENE, Ore. -- After 37 days of wild speculation and a few close calls, the dust has apparently settled on the search for the next head coach of the Oregon basketball team.

Dana Altman will be the man to replace Ernie Kentafter agreeing to a seven year deal that will pay him less than $2 million per season

Altman landed in Eugene late Sunday afternoon in Pat Kilkenny's private jet, and will be announced as the new head coach on Monday.

For the past 16 years Altman has been the head coach of the Creighton Bluejays in Omaha, Nebraska. His record with the Bluejays stands at 327-176. He also put together a streak of 11 seasons with at least 20 wins, and Creighton advanced to the NCAA Tournament seven times in that stretch.

It's a good resume, but nothing that makes you stand up and say, "Wow!"

And that's why there's sure to be more than a few Oregon fans who will write him off immediately.

That's partly because, when the coaching search began, Pat Kilkenny and the UO athletic department shot for the moon. Names like Mark Few, Jamie Dixon and Brad Stevens all were thrown out as possible candidates to take the reigns of the program and boldly lead it into Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon wanted a big name, but it didn't work out. However, that doesn't mean that Altman won't.

You only have to look at the Ducks' football team to realize why the "big name" hire is overrated.

When Gary Crowton stepped down as the Ducks' offensive coordinator to take the same position at LSU, the popular belief was that Oregon needed a recognizable coach to come in and run the offense.

When Mike Bellotti announced he had hired a coach whose only real experience was at Division 1AA New Hampshire, the lack of enthusiasm from most fans was obvious.

Yet Chip Kelly has done nothing but exceed expectations.

He took a downtrodden Dennis Dixon and turned him into a Heisman Trophy candidate. The following year he juggled three different quarterbacks en route to a 10-win season. And in his first year as a head coach, he guided the team through rough waters all the way to the program's first Rose Bowl in 15 years.

Bellotti knew Kelly could coach, and in the end that's all that matters.

Altman seems to know his X's and O's. He built his reputation as a good bench coach by posting a 28-13 record in games decided by six points or less while he was the head coach at Kansas State from 1990-94.

He then took Creighton from a team that finished 7-22 the year prior to his arrival to one that has qualified for the post season 13 straight years.

Altman may not be Mark Turgeon, or even Mike Anderson. But he is a solid coach.

And he's also a guy who should be welcomed to Eugene with open arms.