If Marvin Menzies does not land the vacant Tulsa head coaching job this week, it may come down to the lack of a NCAA Tournament win.
But that shouldn't be the case.
The longer the Tulsa search has dragged on, the more favorable a candidate Menzies appears to be. Four NCAA Tournament appearances in five years, three in a row with a pair of close calls in the Big Dance since 2010. Menzies is 152-89 at NMSU and if he returns for an eighth year, he would likely jump into third in school wins behind legendary Lou Henson and Neil McCarthy by the end of 2015.
Those are some of the obvious things that jump off the resume for potential schools looking to find a coach.
Outside of a NCAA Tournament victory, Menzies has nothing left to prove after 7 seasons in Las Cruces.
Losing four NCAA Tournament games as a low seed can hardly be used against Menzies given the names that have surfaced as contenders for the Tulsa job. But if he is passed over, perhaps it's more telling than I thought. The truth is that the Aggies have not had a signature non-conference victory outside of two UNM wins, which NMSU plays twice each year. Nor has he won an outright conference championship, even last season in the Western Athletic Conference that took a significant step back last year. A quick search on Google would reveal multiple incidents away from basketball that has shed a negative light at times on the NMSU program from afar.
Building on previous success and addressing some of those blemishes is one reason Menzies could return, but that's about it.
Menzies, like all coaches at New Mexico State, have fundraising responsibilities that his peers do not. Menzies is a fantastic fundraiser, but consider the significant time investment the head coach needs to devote to raising money instead of devoting that time to the business of basketball. When budgets are tight like they are at New Mexico State, Menzies relies on the offseason fundraising dollars to lift the program to the success the Aggies are currently enjoying.
And that success has been met by an indifferent response from the fanbase, at best. After seven years, Menzies' teams play to a half empty arena and folks who don't attend games have not bought in.
Tulsa is the type of job I imagined Menzies leaving for. He talks about his family loving the area and he has tremendous support inside the administration. Tulsa leaves Conference USA for the higher profile American Athletic Conference next season.
Menzies told me once that if he were to leave NMSU, he wants to do so to a location where people wouldn't second guess his decision.
Tulsa would be that job.
Tulsa was set to pay Danny Manning 1.4 million after just two seasons. But money alone wouldn't lure Menzies away from NMSU. After seven years grinding it out at NMSU, it's time Menzies learns if he can take a program in a better conference to the next level.
He's already done it here.