The Utah Jazz will be doing more than filling a head coach vacancy Saturday when they introduce Quin Snyder as their replacement for Tyrone Corbin. They will be furthering a dramatic tale of redemption for one of college basketball’s hottest but ultimately fallen names.
Or they’ll be taking a significant chance on a fellow who flamed out the last time he held a position of prominence in the coaching profession. Look, a lot of people might not associate Salt Lake City with a glamour job, but it’s still one of 30 in the best basketball league in the world.
And it’s the highest Snyder has flown since he came crashing down eight years ago amid scandals at the University of Missouri.
In announcing Snyder’s hiring Friday afternoon, the Jazz rightly focused on his pedigree at every level, from the results he got during the good years in Missouri to his work as an NBA assistant with organizations such as Atlanta, Philadelphia and the L.A. Clippers. It doesn’t hurt that Snyder worked from 2007 to 2010 as head coach of the Austin Toros of the NBA Development League. The Toros are the D-League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs, and allowed Snyder to cross paths with Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey when Lindsey was working with R.C. Buford and Gregg Popovich.
“Quin Snyder combines a unique skill set with several intangibles that makes him the right fit for our team and approach to basketball,” Lindsey said in a Jazz statement. “He is passionate about the game and has a 20-year track record of teaching and developing young talent.” The GM touted Snyder’s personality, work ethic and communications skills as adding value for the Jazz.
For the past eight years, Snyder’s name has been off the marquee, a staffer, a D-League grinder, earning back his coaching credential. Those who remember his fall at Missouri might think of him in bold headline font, the boy wonder who snagged a high-profile job at 32, had impressive early success, worked his salary up to $1 million annually or more, then got fired for losing and for the ink stains of NCAA violations.
Even when Snyder hit the D-League and demonstrated what many found to be a new, more humble outlook, skeptics assumed it was another salesman’s tactic.
Then again, eight years is a long time to stick to something insincere. And columnist Kurt Kragthorpe of the Salt Lake Tribune thinks the good coach has been distilled from the slick package, and is worth the risk:
The original Quin Snyder, the former University of Missouri coach, would have been too smooth, too slick and too self-assured to fit with the Jazz. Having rebuilt his career in the wake of that messy ending by squeezing a remarkable amount of varied pro basketball experience out of the past eight seasons, he’s ready for this job.
Snyder is intriguing, because there are elements in his background that make him both a safe pick in some ways and a risk/reward hire in another sense. Jazz fans and players alike should be feeling a jolt of energy right now, three weeks before the NBA Draft provides another boost to this franchise.
The Jazz are getting a coach who’s now sufficiently humble and grounded enough to work in the framework of the organization, yet he retains enough of a dynamic personality and passion for basketball to make him a potential star in the business — again.