One of the most respected head coaches in America, Purdue's Matt Painter met with officials from the University of Missouri on Tuesday to discuss a game-changer of a job switch. Desperate to fill the role vacated by now-Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson, sources indicate that Painter is the Tigers' No. 1 target as a replacement.
The weird part about this developing situation is that Painter would actually agree to go from a Big Ten contender to a Big 12 upstart. This man has put together four consecutive 25-win seasons at a school that just happens to be his alma mater. He was battle-tested for the job by his mentor Gene Keady, and his tenure with the program has been a resounding success to say the least. And now he wants to leave? For Missouri?
The only clue we can gather here is from the negotiations that took place last July. When Painter signed his current seven-year deal, it was negotiated with an out-clause in place after the 10-11 season. That clause afforded Painter the right to leave school and break his contract without a termination fee. Here's what he said at the time:
"You always do your best as an employee for an institution, but you have to take care of you and your family when it comes to negotiating the best contract for yourself," Painter said. "Once you get into negotiations, there's going to be a hard line drawn in the sand somewhere by both parties. When those things happen, sometimes their side can't move any more financially and then you're going to look at other areas to try to put yourself in the best possible situation to give yourself a little bit of freedom," Painter said. "Maybe if you don't have quite the guaranteed money as some of your peers in your league, there's going to have to be some other things that are advantageous to you and that was one example of that."
Most Purdue fans chalked this up to business savvy and moved on. But looking back, that once-proud day in July feels more like a starting point for Painter's new mentality of taking care of himself above all else. And coupled with his obvious interest in Missouri's opening, Boilermakers fans have every right to be shaking in their boots right about now.
Let's face it, if Painter bolts it will be solely because of the (roughly) $700,000 per year he will receive in his bank account. Aside from that, there's no other logical reason to leave a rock-solid basketball school like Purdue for a Big 12 program that has never made it to a Final Four in school history. And yet, Matt Painter is on the verge of doing it...