Somebody must have regretted it for him, then. Because on Sunday, as the stars were beginning to shine at the United Center in Chicago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke a story explaining the Cavs and Beilein had “discussed (the) possibility of him stepping down as coach during the NBA All-Star Break.”MORE: SN March Madness projections 1.0: Looking at Field of 68 for 2020 tourneyIt was an important story in the NBA. It was massive news in college basketball.Because fans who know their program’s coach will be fired — or who want their coach to be fired — began to fantasize about getting one of the game’s elite technicians and player-development coaches on their bench.Beilein is one of the best coaches in college basketball history. How big the club is that includes him would be a matter of debate, but it’s exclusive enough you could fit them all at one table. It’d be a bigger table than likely is in your dining room, but elaborate enough to accommodate the royalty.He won 754 games at four-year colleges and made 13 NCAA Tournament appearances from Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia and, finally, Michigan. He built a reputation for tactically advanced offensive schemes and exceptional skill development of the players he recruited, helping to turn such players as Caris LeVert, Trey Burke, Moritz Wagner, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Nik Stauskas — none rated among the top 80 prospects in their recruiting classes — into NBA players.He also coaches with a quiet fire, presenting himself as someone who can provoke intensity among his players without alienating them.None of this helped much in the transition to the NBA. He signed a five-year contract with the Cavs, but he is their fifth coach in seven seasons. The length of his deal meant only that he would get more security, not more time.MORE: Beilein’s departure from college a call for improvement, not sign of doomHis troubles in Cleveland will be of little concern to those programs hoping he will return to college basketball. This is not a given, though. Beilein is 67. That does not age him out of the business — not with coaches such as Mike Krzyzewski excelling well into his 70s — but Beilein left Michigan for a reason: He wanted a new challenge. He was treasured at UM. He left behind a successful group of players and recruits. His departure was not for escape, but for adventure.He may view returning to the college game and rebuilding another program as the sort of energizing challenge that drew him to the Cavaliers. He was looking for another challenge, and he sure did find it. John Beilein left Michigan after twice reaching the NCAA title game to take on the mountainous task of turning a 19-win Cleveland Cavaliers squad into an actual NBA team. That is not easy to do: Fifty-four games into the 2019-20 season, they somehow have managed to secure even fewer victories (14) than the Knicks (17).“I have never regretted it,” Beilein told legendary basketball writer Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com in January. “Not one bit.” This also might present an opportunity for him to work with his son, Patrick, who resigned in October as head coach at Niagara for what were described as “personal reasons.” Patrick Beilein had yet to coach a game at the Division I level, but was viewed as a highly promising coach after reaching the NCAA Division II Tournament in each of his final three seasons with Le Moyne College.“Personal reasons I can no longer take lightly have led me to step away from my dream job,” Patrick said in an October statement. “Going forward, I must give singular focus to dealing with these issues, so that I can become the man that I strive to be.”His father offered support in a subsequent statement. There are plenty of reasons John Beilein might return to college hoops. He walked away from one of the best jobs in the game, though, and not all that long ago. There may be reasons he would not.
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