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Utah Jazz: Former Utah Utes coach Jim Boylen is clear front runner for top job

Former Utah Utes head coach Jim Boylen.
Ethan Miller

To the dismay of many Utah Utes fans, former head coach Jim Boylen appears to be the clear leader to become the new Utah Jazz head coach. Adrian Wojnarowski---who appears to be the clear front runner for most bizarre Jazz rumors in one day---reported on Monday, April 21 from his Twitter handle that Boylen is indeed the Jazz’ No. 1 target to become its next head coach.

Spencer Checketts of Salt Lake City sports talk station 1280 The Zone seconded that notion on his Twitter page, igniting a firestorm of epic proportion from Jazz fans who know Boylen from his days at the U, when he essentially ran the Utah Utes basketball program into the ground--leaving a horrible mess for current coach Larry Krystkowiak to clean up.

“Right or wrong, if this Jim Boylen hire actually happens, it will be one the most bizarre turns in Utah sports history,” Checketts tweeted.

Right Checketts is on that account, but the fact remains. Boylen and Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey have a history. While Lindsey was an assistant GM in Houston, Boylen was coaching up Houston’s bigs.

Boylen is currently an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs--also Lindsey’s former employer--and he’s been a well-respected NBA assistant for years, even if he made a few costly errors as Utes head coach. Those errors were well documented.

Being Tom Izzo’s top assistant at Michigan State did not make Boylen a good college basketball coach. During his tenure at Utah, Boylen was accused of tripping a Utes opponent during a Mountain West Conference game, working his players with Izzo’s famed pugil sticks too hard during practices--some reportedly bled--and of course, he gave an infamous on-court speech at the Huntsman Center.

One thing is certain: Boylen was never boring. He won 69 of the 129 games he coached at Utah, over half. His players weren’t boring, either. Most didn't leave with degrees--but they could put the ball in the hoop. Marshall Henderson was immensely talented, but a head case to this day. Will Clyburn came in and like Delon Wright, became Utah’s leading scorer after a JUCO turn. Like that, he was gone to Iowa State.

Then there was J.J. O’Brien who would transfer to San Diego State--further putting a dagger in the chest since the Aztecs were bitter conference rivals. Most, if not all of Boylen’s recruits moved on to other programs after he left--leaving the Utes with a sinking ship.

Fans will probably never forgive Boylen for what he did to the Utah program--not even if he is hired by the Jazz in the next few days and leads them to a title. What Boylen is known for is his defense, an area the Jazz need serious help in (they were 30th in the NBA this year) and for his development of big men.

But is hiring the same guy who ran the Utes program into the ground the best answer? Stay tuned, because things are about to get very interesting.

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