Jamie Dixon Ain’t Leaving, Smizik

PSAMP has a love/hate relationship with Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Bob Smizik. Well, just about everyone hates his wet blanket, don’t get too excited attitude towards the local teams, but I did score the only interview he’s done with a blog. In our conversations, I was able to get a better view of his style while countering his arguments with the prevailing thoughts in the local blogosphere.

Today, he mentions the possibility of Jamie Dixon leaving Pitt for a big name school, much like Ben Howland did when Dixon was just a Pitt assistant. There have already been several schools with openings…Kentucky is looking into John Calipari, UVA and Arizona should have vacancies…why would Dixon continue at Pitt with Young, Fields and likely Blair gone next season?

In today’s society, contracts mean squat. Sure, Dixon is locked up, but just think about the shenanigans pulled by former WVU football coach Rich Rodriguez when his “dream job” at Michigan opened up.

Maybe it’s just the Pitt homer in me, but Dixon has proved himself to be in a different class than the cut-and-run-at-the-next-best-opportunity coaches. He’s no Larry Brown. Sure, Dixon recently set the mark for most wins in the first 6 years of a career, but I doubt he’d use that as leverage to take on the stress at a larger school. Howland may have moved on and had a string of success that included 3 straight Final Fours at UCLA, but at a school of that status, the team won’t be hanging banners celebrating a trip to the semis. It’s championship or nothing.

And as Smizik noted, Jamie has never been a top-of-the-nation recruiter. Sure, it takes time to rebuild the confidence of recruits after the the head coach bolts, but six years later and Dixon finally scored a top-10 level incoming freshman in Dante Taylor. With the recent good pub from guys like Blair, Fields and Young plus the news of Taylor’s decision, would it really behoove Dixon to leave when the shallowest section of his talents is finally starting to glimmer with hope?

Will Dixon ever leave Pitt? It’s really hard to say what a college coach in today’s game will do in the upcoming season, so I’m not going to claim that I can predict the rest of Jamie’s career. He’s kept Pitt near the top of the pile for his entire tenure in the ‘Burgh, and with his first Elite Eight appearance and pride-boost of finally snatching up the prized recruits, I’d say that Jamie has a ton of reasons to see his hard work come to fruition at Pitt.

And if this all blows up in my face while Dixon bolts for more money elsewhere this offseason, I’ll formally apologize to Smizik and recognize his supreme mental fortitude.

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