A lot of rumors are floating around the web today that the Utes are in contract negotiations with Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett.
This is what I can tell you from talking to people on both sides. To say that the two are in negotiations would be premature, although he is a candidate.
Other names connected with the opening have been BYU coach Dave Rose, BYU assistant Dave Rice, former Alabama coach Mark Gottfried and LSU's Trent Johnson.
I spoke to Gottfried today who declined to comment on the situation for now. However, another source told me that Gottfried very much wants the job and is doing his best to put himself in position for it.
So this is the feeling I get that is going on, a feeling many of you probably believe as well. I think the Utes are waiting to see what shakes out with the BYU angle but are still going about the interview process lining up some possible other choices as well with BYU being occupied with the NCAA Tournament now.
Quick look at some of the coaches who could be in play for the Utes.
Bennett has served as Saint Mary's coach for 10 years and is a two-time West Coast Conference Coach of the Year. The Gaels have enjoyed 25-plus win seasons the last four years and have been to the post-season five times (NCAA in 2005, 2008, 2010 and NIT in 2009, 2011).
Over the last four years Saint Mary's is 106-29.
The Gaels lost to Kent State 71-70 in the NIT last week to finish 25-9.
His contract runs through 2020, according to school officials.
Bennett's name has come up in several coaching searches in the past. He was pursued by Oregon State in 2008. Some say he hesitated to take that job, hoping to land at Cal, which didn't work out for him either. Perhaps the Utah opening will.
One interesting note is former Utah coach Rick Majerus, Johnson and Bennett are all represented by The Agency Sports Management and Marketing Group. Bennett's agent hasn't returned calls today.
Gottfried resigned during his 11th season as Alabama's coach in 2009 with a record of 210-131 overall and 83-82 in the SEC. Gottfried's last year was a rocky one, with a star player, Ronald Steele, quitting the team and Alabama limping to a 12-7 record before Gottfried resigned. The Tide made five straight NCAA Tournament appearances starting in 2002 but missed the NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008.
Gottfried had signed a $1 million contract with the Tide in 2005 through 2011. He was given a $2.2 million buyout according to the Birmingham News.
Johnson released a statement last week dismissing interest in the Utah job. Course, we all know minds can be changed.
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