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Did Flip Saunders officially turn down U. of Minnesota?

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It looks like it. From the St. Paul Pioneer-Press:

It's official: Flip Saunders won't be returning to his alma mater to coach the Gophers men's basketball team this year.

University of Minnesota officials have been told privately by people close to Saunders' representatives that he is not a candidate for the Gophers' job and that the university should go in another direction. The reasons are that Saunders, 51, is committed to this season and the next two years of his Detroit Pistons contract (worth $9.5 million in base salary), as well as trying to win an NBA championship.

Members of the Detroit media will likely read this and stomp up and down, "That's what we've been saying all along!" And they'd be right -- it's been the Minnesota newspapers that have perpetuated these rumors all this time.

But until now, we've never had any indication that Saunders actually contacted Minnesota, either directly or through "people close to his representatives," informing them of his intentions. Instead, he's disputed any interest through the media while refusing to broach the subject with his current employer or even his wife, let alone placing a courtesy call to his alma mater's president or athletic director. If you're a suspicious person, it looked like he wanted to leave his options while doing his best to only lie about the subject to the media, which, you know, is acceptable in his line of work (*cough* Nick Saban *cough*).

So, while it could be true that he finally decided, "hey, enough is enough, I should officially close the door I've left open for months on end," I have to wonder if there was something else that prompted this. Like I've explained before, the money really isn't as much of a factor as it looks on paper, especially if you factor in the fact that he'd likely be able to negotiate a buy-out from the Pistons. No, what I think happened -- and this is just me making a random guess -- is that the University of Minnesota got nervous waiting for Flip once they saw that the University of Michigan had a job to fill, as well.

Before, Minnesota looked content to wait until June, waiting for Flip to either a) win the NBA championship and leave the pros in a blaze of glory; or b) lose in the playoffs and get chased out of town. But with Michigan now looking to replace Tommy Amaker, there's new competition for any up-and-coming coaches who might be willing to move up the coaching ladder by accepting a Big 10 job, even if it means turning around a losing program. Perhaps a little nervous, it's possible Minnesota contacted those "people close to Saunders' representatives" (they couldn't talk to Flip directly -- that would be tampering) and said, "no more waiting, we need to know soon," at which point Saunders finally closed the door.

Or maybe this was all a bunch of nothing in the first place. I don't know, and probably never will. But, given the circumstances Minnesota is currently facing, this is the first time I'm actually 100% convinced Saunders won't be coaching the Golden Gophers next year.