After a trip to Atlanta Wyoming officials returned to Laramie late last night without an athletic director and still no head basketball coach. Tom Burman is staying in Atlanta for a couple days before heading to Houston for the Final Four this weekend. While in Atlanta the Wyoming search committee sat down and interviewed Larry Shyatt, Joe Dooley and Steve Gosar.
Wyoming Senior Associate AD Kevin McKinney commented on the process and how far they were from a decision being made.
"He had planned to stay and he's going to go to the Final Four from there," McKinney said after arriving in Laramie. "But he hasn't made a decision yet, I can tell you that.
"He's got to mull some things over. He'd like to do it sooner than later. Whether he thought he'd have a decision [Wednesday], I can't say. All I know is he doesn't have one."
An announcement on the next basketball coach could come out before the weekend but no press conference would take place until after the Final Four. That seems like a smart decision to hold the press conference after a champion has been crowned. Nearly all sports media will be focusing on the Final Four this weekend and any press conference would just get lost in the headlines.
Wyoming has taken a beating in the press and from coaches for first firing Heath Schroyer during the season, then had the program bashed as being a terrible job with low pay. Schroyer was paid a base salary of $160,000 but his incentives boosted him well above that. Schroyer signed the contract and if he was worth more he would have won more games and earned a raise like most people.
Wyoming is expected to offer a salary of $700,000 this time around with a rumored signing bonus of up to $500,000. The administration is doing everything possible to improve the image of the basketball program and could be on the verge of signing a well known candidate with great pedigree.
Multiple reports came out yesterday that Larry Shyatt the current Florida assistant and former Wyoming head coach is now the favorite for the position. He has been linked with the job from day one of the search process but couldn't interview earlier due to the Gators postseason run. There are mixed emotions about Shyatt due his rocky exit from Laramie in 1998. After leading the Cowboys to a 19-8 record he left for Clemson which was his "dream job" and ended up having to sue Wyoming due to a buyout clause. They ended up settling out of court for $268,000.
The AD at the time was Lee Moon and he is not well liked for the way he handled the Shyatt situation or the coaches that came after him. While in Laramie Shyatt energized the crowd and brought in solid recruits who created the foundation for Wyoming's very successful teams in the early 2000's. Thanks to his success at Florida Shyatt now has two jewel encrusted National Championship rings and has been named the top assistant in the country.
While Shyatt is now sitting at 60 years and probably isn't planning on coaching for another decade his biggest rival for the job seems to be Joe Dooley an assistant from Kansas. Dooley spent time in Wyoming as an assistant and also New Mexico so he is familiar with the Mountain West. At just 45 it seems like he is the candidate who could stay long term if he wants and won't be retiring any time soon. He's been a head coach before at East Carolina but struggled there and went 57-52. ECU doesn't have a strong basketball tradition and Dooley is the only coach in the past 25 years to leave ECU with a career record above .500. Current ECU coach Jeff Lebo just finished his first year with an 18-16 record or .529 winning percentage.
Steve Gosar is a Wyoming native and former player who has had great success at JC powerhouse College of Southern Idaho. While most he is not ready for the head coach gig right now, fans would love have him come on board as assistant for the new coach and be groomed as a successor to Shyatt or Dooley. There is a chance that if Shyatt is hired that he brings his son Jeremy Shyatt with who is currently an assistant at North Florida. Then when Larry is ready to retire Jeremy could take over the family business. Curious enough is that former Wyoming AD Lee Moon is the current AD at North Florida.