Oregon's last women's basketball coach was a big name, with professional titles and big-city experience. Their next coach is an even bigger Hollywood splash.
According to sources, Oregon AD Rob Mullens is close to a deal that would being former New York Knicks head coach Edwina "Eddie" Franklin to Eugene. The former limo driver became the NBA's first-ever female head coach in 1996, and orchestrated one of the more remarkable turnarounds in basketball history. Franklin took a Knicks team filled with also-rans and head cases, and led them to a dramatic late season push to grab the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Not only did the team's record improve, but Franklin was able to drum up enough fan support to keep owner William Burgess from moving the team to St. Louis.
Franklin coached the Knicks for two more seasons, amassing a 101-103 career record. Her contract was not renewed following a disappointing 1997-1998 season. The league seemed to figure out her coaching tendencies, and the warm fuzzies of the playoff run faded amongst the New York fanbase. Rather than pursuing other coaching jobs in the NBA, the WNBA, or the college ranks, Franklin took time off coaching to move to television, first for CBS Sports, and then ABC. But it seems that for the lady known as Eddie, the coaching bug is still biting. The real question: is another splashy hire the right direction for Oregon women's basketball? The Paul Westhead era was an inconsistent mess that featured more bad losses than good wins; we know that Eddie Franklin is a "player's coach", and was able to get the most out of her players during her stint in the Big Apple. But I have doubts on whether that will translate to Pac-12 success.