Schools will be calling, but Moser has reason to be loyal to Loyola
There's always an assumption when a mid-major basketball coach has repeat success in the NCAA Tournament, he'll soon move to a higher-profile, and higher-salaried, job.
But Porter Moser has reason to be loyal to Loyola.
The Benet Academy graduate was once a rising star in the coaching ranks. He became head coach at Illinois State at 35, and failed miserably. He was fired after four disappointing seasons and took a job as an assistant coach at Saint Louis.
Loyola gave Moser a second chance in 2011 and it's paid off for both sides. The Ramblers are back in the Sweet 16, three years after the improbable Final Four run, and will face Oregon State on Saturday.
Moser was asked this week about deciding to stay at Loyola when St. John's made a pitch to fill its coaching vacancy.
"Why run from happiness?" Moser said. "For me, it just felt we had a high ceiling at Loyola and we do. We still do. It's about the people, the family, absolutely nothing against any school. I just think when people know it's time, it's time. I just felt that we've got a lot to do here."
Maybe this year will be the time for Moser to leave. Financial security could be waiting at a big state school somewhere.
At the same time, it's easy to point to Dan Monson as a cautionary tale. He was the coach that first led Gonzaga to the regional final in 1999. He took a new job at Minnesota right away, was replaced after seven seasons and has been toiling in obscurity at Long Beach State for the past 14 years. Mark Few replaced Monson at Gonzaga, never left, and has his team undefeated and the top overall seed in this year's tournament.
Since Moser has proved he can win big at Loyola, why not just keep it rolling? Behind the scenes, Loyola has been making facilities upgrades for the past 10 years.
It started with an athletic center, with improved locker room, weight room and training facilities. The school remodeled Gentile Arena to make it more of an intimate atmosphere instead of a giant box with bleachers. Then after the Final Four run, the school opened a practice facility for basketball and volleyball.
"I was driving minivans (on road trips), our teams were. Now we're chartering flights," Moser said. "We were in a four-team exempt tournament in an obscure place (in his early tenure). Next year, Loyola's in the Battle 4 Atlantis (with Baylor, UConn, Michigan State, Syracuse and others).
"Steve Watson, my athletic director, Dr. (Jo Ann) Rooney, Tom Kelly, the leadership team -- they want this. Their vision isn't just the last couple year. They've been pushing this. Al Norville, former player, they've been pushing this vision that we can be a high ceiling. I just think that's what you want.
"I've said this many times, it isn't one person that is elevating this program. It's a wide stretch of people, all pulling in the same direction. A wide stretch of players, current, former -- everybody's been pushing. It isn't one person that's doing this with Loyola."
It could be a question of striking when the time is right or maybe sticking with a good situation. But certainly, schools will be asking to talk to Moser when Loyola's latest run ends.