Stacey Augmon has always been the tall, thin, lead-by-example personality of the UNLV basketball program. As a player, the "plastic man", became infamous for his finesse and his defensive prowess. As an assistant coach, he's been integral in promoting the basketball program and connecting with his young players in a way most other coaches cannot because of his own experience at UNLV.
Augmon had an illustrious college career, one that Las Vegas still hangs its hat on. He went on to have a very memorable NBA career and then also became an NBA assistant coach.
However, when the chance to be an assistant coach at his alma mater came about a few years ago, Augmon joined the team once again. As highlighted by the Las Vegas Review Journal's exclusive interview with Augmon published late last week, he looked forward to returning to UNLV.
Yet, beginning under Dave Rice and moving into the latter part of this season (after Rice's departure), it has become clear that the glory days that Augmon experienced as a player cannot be replicated. Instead, each year under Rice and his staff - including Augmon and current interim head coach Todd Simon - has become progressively worse. And now, the UNLV basketball program faces question marks.
Flailing attendance numbers coupled by early player departures may be the least of the program's troubles. However, after the publication of the article, Augmon now finds himself the center of attention in another unknown portion of UNLV's future plans: Who will be UNLV's next head coach?
Outlined in the aforementioned article, Augmon is now making his case to become UNLV's head coach next season. Discussing his desire to become the head coach next year with a journalist may seem like a strange way to come out publicly with what he wants, but perhaps that is exactly what's needed as a plethora of other names will be thrown around over the next 3-4 months as critics ponder who UNLV will choose to be the next head coach.
Augmon would be a natural choice. He loves UNLV. He was a successful college and NBA player and has coaching experience in both college and the NBA. Augmon was also a champion in college and understands what it's like to become one.
However, Augmon may be a victim of circumstance and poor timing. He obviously was not UNLV's first choice for replacing Rice as interim. UNLV never seemed to provide thorough explanation, but after Rice's departure, Augmon stayed in the same role.
Additionally, the original mindset of bringing in Rice (also a member of the championship team at UNLV) was that the glory days of Runnin' Rebel basketball might return. This was also fortified by having Augmon on staff, but the Tarkanian glory days never returned. As more years pass by, young players are not familiar with the years when UNLV dominated college basketball and it is harder to lure recruits in without current results of success.
As much as I personally think that Augmon should at least be interviewed - and taken seriously - for UNLV's head coaching position, I do not think he will end up with the position.
Instead, it might behoove the Rebel program to start fresh, finding someone who has never been directly associated with UNLV's basketball program but brings necessary experience. UNLV is in the unique position, perhaps one final time, that they still have a basketball brand associated with success. This is the time for the program to catch a big fish.
If for some reason Augmon ends up with the position, kudos to him. No one questions his passion for Rebel basketball, something that few potential coaches who might come in would already possess.