Kevin Willard turns down Virginia Tech to stay at Seton Hall

Wendell Cruz/FinishFirstPhotos

Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard has turned down an offer from Virginia Tech to stay in South Orange.

Anyone still on the edge of their seats Twitter or Google searching Kevin Willard every 30 minutes can sit back and relax.

Willard, who has heard more pleas to go rather than stay during his nine years at Seton Hall, was certainly desired by the vast majority of Pirates fans when faced with a reality that the former Iona head coach could be headed south on I-95.

While the situation was painted as serious by a trio of local writers and kicked off by a national talking head in Jon Rothstein, I’m not so sure it was.

The general narrative says that Kevin Willard was torn 50/50 between getting a pay raise at Virginia Tech and staying at Seton Hall.

As expressed a few days ago, the whole thing didn’t quite add up to me, with the lone focal point surely about money.

Specifically how much Seton Hall was forking out to a coach poised to become the first Pirates skipper to lead a team to five consecutive N.C.A.A. appearances come next March.

As stated, the numbers are a bit foggy, but Willard’s base salary was behind a number of Big East coaches despite arguably deserving conference coach of the year for 2018-19’s body of work.

He certainly deserved a bump and some earned security after bringing much-desired stability to South Orange after a heart-wrenching decade-plus that pre-dated his arrival.

It’s easier to connect dots in retrospect, but I did find it slightly odd at the time that Jerry Carino mentioned in his off-season preview how Seton Hall’s practice gym in the depths of Walsh could use some varnish.

I wouldn’t be surprised if work was planned for an upgrade in the coming months to couple Willard’s undisclosed salary bump.

While looking at some corners of Virginia Tech hoops Twitter, a couple people also expressed doubt about Willard since the prior Hokies coaching search for Buzz Williams didn’t nearly bring as much, pun intended, buzz; they suspected Willard’s agent was pushing stories.

Don’t get me wrong, none of my slightly editorialized narrative paints anyone as malicious, it’s just the price of doing business when college coaches can command such money.

If anything, it was precisely calculated.

With a handful of N.C.A.A. “units” under their belt along with increased attendance and sustained success, it seems far from a reach for AD Pat Lyons and Seton Hall’s athletics administration to loosen the purse strings a bit for a guy who has provoked plenty of “…First time since ’93/P.J.” stats and scenarios.

So here’s to at least another year — it could be a big one — with Willard at the helm.

Oh, and a happy birthday to Kevin, who turns 44 today.

That’s probably just a coincidence too, right?