College basketball never ceases to amaze — even in the offseason.
Loyola fans started squirming when a report came out that Porter Moser was in New York for a job interview for the St. John’s University head coaching job. They got even more uncomfortable when Moser was reportedly offered a contract that night.
Tuesday afternoon, Rambler Nation relaxed for the first time in 24 hours when Moser turned the job down and released a statement saying he was “ALL IN” on staying in Rogers Park.
All last year and through the Final Four, Moser talked about how he was a “Catholic kid from Chicago” and showed how much he genuinely cared about the fans. He proved he means it all, turning down the reported eight-year contract worth $2 million per year.
It’s a testament to Moser’s character. One year ago, in this space, I wrote a column about how he should stick around after that Final Four run.
If he would’ve taken the St. John’s job, he would’ve gone back on almost everything he said.
He would’ve left Loyola after everything he’s been through — from a bottom-tier Horizon League team to back-to-back Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) titles. He would’ve left his best recruiting class behind. He would’ve left Loyola without a natural successor after Bryan Mullins took the head job at Southern Illinois University March 20.
Most of all, the “culture” Ramblers hear about oh-so-often would’ve been gone.
Moser made the right move. He would’ve had to start fresh at St. John’s, as the Red Storm are expected to return seven letterwinners next year and don’t have any graduating high school seniors signed for next year. He would’ve been in a similar spot to when he was hired at Loyola in 2011 — in fact, it might’ve been worse.
Sure, St. John’s has the attraction of being in the Big East Conference, which perennially sends multiple teams to March Madness. The MVC has only sent one team to the big dance the last three years, and that trend looks likely to continue. St. John’s also could’ve offered him more money, and he made it clear that wasn’t his only concern. On top of all that, St. John’s plays in Madison Square Garden. Need I say more?
Moser’s going to be happier at Loyola, though. He said it himself: “Why run from happiness?”
Fans showed up to Gentile Arena in record numbers this past season, and Moser was a big reason for that. Who can forget when he wrote that column in The Phoenix my first year at Loyola or handed out hot dogs in the Damen Student Center before that? I never heard students chant “Porter! Porter!” until this season.
They know he cares. He’s at the orientations in the summer and other sporting events around campus, and he makes a point to talk to students in Damen when he has the chance.
I had people texting me and messaging me on Twitter asking question after question about what Moser would do. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an answer.
Now, Moser and the fans can focus on the offseason ahead. The 2019-20 roster is set once Jalon Pipkins and Keith Clemons sign their letters of intent April 17. That could be one talented team next year.
Take a breath, Rambler fans. Coach is sticking around — for now — and the future looks bright.