by Bert Beiswanger
15 years ago, Butler started knocking off the big boys with regularity- regular season games, pre-season tournament games, NCAA tournament games; it didn’t matter. One trip to the Sweet 16 was followed by another…and another…and another. Butler did the unthinkable by making consecutive appearances in the national title game.
Next year, Butler will begin play in the reformed Big East. Teams like Marquette, Georgetown and Villanova will be making yearly trips to a renovated cathedral of basketball: Hinkle Fieldhouse. From the MCC (Midwestern City Conference then Midwestern Collegiate Conference) to the Horizon League to the Atlantic Ten to the Big East…what a journey it’s been.
And along the way, Butler found itself one of the best coaches in the county; not one of the best young coaches or one of the best mid-major coaches but one of the BEST coaches in the country.
It took the mighty Boston Celtics to pry Brad Stevens away from one of the best gigs a coach could ever want. What a statement as to where Butler basketball is right now.
Butler will probably have a new head coach within a few days. Athletic director Barry Collier already had a list of potential successors in place. While many schools spend enormous amounts of resources hiring search firms and chasing the next big thing, Butler will pull from its very specific rolodex of “Butler Way” candidates.
Sure, no one could have expected the Celtics to hire Stevens and many expected Stevens to be a lifer. But folks like Collier, the architect and founding father of all of this Butler basketball success, don’t sit around expecting anything. They prepare for everything.
Butler is Butler in large part because of Brad Stevens. But it’s also Butler because of the leadership within the university and that includes one of the best administrators in the college sports, Barry Collier.
Let me ask you: Did you know who Brad Stevens was before he got hired? I didn’t think so. Chances are people won’t be blown away by the next hire, either. Oh, you may recognize him – perhaps former Bulldog Brandon Miller or LaVall Jordan – but I doubt the hire will be a name that blows people away. I could be wrong. It is a new day with Butler joining the Big East. But I suspect the hire will be someone already in the Butler family.
What I will guarantee, though, is that Collier has had a plan for this day all along. It took the prestigious Boston Celtics to lure away Brad Stevens. What an honor all around – for Butler and for Stevens.
Everyone who loves Butler basketball should be proud of this day. They should also be proud of the leadership within the institution. I could only hope that a coach of my beloved Ball State Cardinals would one day get hired away by the Boston Celtics.
If Boston Celtics fans don’t realize what they’re getting in Brad Stevens, they will soon. If Butler fans don’t realize what they’re getting in the next head coach, they will soon.
Butler will push on to bright days ahead and success in the Big East. It’s The Butler Way.