In March 1999, the St. Louis University head coach, Charlie Spoonhour, notified his assistants that he was going to pack up his bags and retire. We had a one and a half year old daughter and I was 7 months pregnant with our second daughter, Samantha (so much for my empty threat of not having another child) and we had no job. When the head coach leaves, whether through retirement or termination, it usually means all the assistants have to go too. Assistants don’t get multi-year contracts like the head coach. For instance, if a university decides to fire a head coach after three years and the coach had a five year deal the university has to pay him the remaining two years of his contract. Almost all assistants have year to year contracts therefore the head coach or athletic director or president can decide to cut you loose at any time.
After the head coach left, Derek was able to stay on staff until a new coach was hired and at that point the new coach can decide to keep Derek or bring in his own people. Sometimes new coaches like to keep one of the assistants from the previous staff for continuity with the players and administration. Lucky for us, the new head coach elected to keep Derek on the staff. We dodged a bullet on that one. I have been with my husband for seven years – we have been married three of those years and have one child and one on the way and I have yet to move one box across state lines. It is very unusual in this business to be in one place for so long. If a program is not winning within 2-4 years the hunt is on for a replacement coach. Just look at all the fires and hires that happen in April after the college basketball season. Nowadays, only a select few stay at one school for over 15 years – Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Jim Boeheim. I have to admit there was a part of me that wanted to see what else was out there. Why not? Remember what I said about feeling like you are not living unless you are burning the candle at both ends? Well, I guess this was my way of saying life was getting comfortable. Why can’t I leave well enough alone and enjoy my stable, well-adjusted life? I must have had baby brain and lost the ability to have rational thoughts. I honestly remember at one point thinking to myself, “When am I going to get to move to all these new schools and see different parts of the country?” I was a little bit of an adventurer and I was ready to see other areas and experience new things. We had coaching friends who had moved three times already and we had been in the same place for seven years. That is highly unusual in the coaching world. Well, my friends, be careful what you wish for because not too long after I made that statement we ended up moving 5 times in 5 years.