The courting of Jeff Linder
LARAMIE -- This isn't a sexy story really.
Tom Burman knew he wanted Jeff Linder. The former Northern Colorado head coach had heard rumblings that the Wyoming job might come open.
He knew he'd be interested.
"I started with Linder and finished with Linder," Wyoming's Athletic Director said during a teleconference Wednesday.
Burman did say he interviewed seven head coaches or so during this process, mostly over the phone thanks to the current COVID-19 virus that has become a worldwide pandemic.
Burman said "hundreds" of candidates reached out to him, but his sole focus was on landing a guy with head coaching experience. That was essential. Regional recruiting ties and a history of winning were high on the pecking order, too.
"People don't apply for these type of jobs, they let their body of work do the speaking for them," Burman said.
He expected this to move quickly. It took just eight days from the day Allen Edwards was fired to land Linder. The Coronavirus actually aided Burman's search.
Linder was getting his UNC squad ready for a quarterfinal matchup in the Big Sky Conference tournament in Boise. The team was actually on the court doing a shoot around when word came the sports world was grinding to a halt.
The Bears' season was suddenly over. They finished the 2019-20 campaign 22-9.
"Tom reached out and asked our AD for permission to talk," Linder said about how this situation unfolded. "Things started going, I got an offer on Monday -- an offer I couldn't refuse."
What does that offer entail?
- Linder's contract is for five seasons
- Linder will have a base salary of $225,000 per season, which will rise to $245,000 after July 1, 2021
- Linder will also receive $260,000 annually in guaranteed compensation (Marketing, ticket sales, radio/ television appearances, etc.)
- Linder will receive a $2,000 per month housing allowance
- Linder will receive $2,000 in incentives for every MWC win the Cowboys rack up after 10
- Linder will pocket $10,000 if he can bring a team that was in the Top 100 the previous season to Laramie in non-conference season
- Linder will also have plenty of incentives for things like GPA, conference championship, coach of the year, etc.
Linder was 80-50 overall during his four seasons in Greeley. He won 20 games or more the past three seasons, including 26 and a CIT Championship in 2017-18.
His staff is not yet complete, though Shaun Vandiver, a longtime assistant under Larry Shyatt and Edwards, will remain in Laramie. Linder also left the door open to the possibility of Steve Smiley making the move up north.
Smiley spent six seasons as the head coach at Sheridan College, where he racked up an overall record of 153-43. He led the Generals to two Final Fours, both resulting in title game appearances. He also sent 21 players to the Division-I level.
Tuesday, Smiley was named the interim head coach at UNC.
"We'll see what happens with Smiley and move on from there," Linder said.
Linder has spent plenty of time in Wyoming himself. He has a scar on the back of his head to prove it.
While water skiing at Guernsey, Linder joked that he hit some choppy water and took a ski to the back of the head. Hours later he was in Wheatland getting three stitches to the noggin.
"Wyoming natives will know that I'm Wyoming tough," he laughed.