In his own words: Porter Moser on why he chose to stay at Loyola

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Loyola head coach Porter Moser answers questions after a practice session for the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament, Thursday, March 29, 2018, in San Antonio. | David J. Phillip/Associated Press

The rumor spread like wildfire. That’s the way it goes these days thanks to social media.

Earlier this week, Loyola coach Porter Moser interviewed in New York for the St. John’s job. Someone spotted him on campus and before he laid his head to rest in the hotel Monday evening, Moser was bombarded by reporters looking for answers.

Moser left New York even more uncertain about his future than before he boarded the plane to the Big Apple.

On one hand, he had Loyola — a program he rebuilt from the ground up and one that’s only one season removed from its miraculous Final Four run in 2018.

On the other, Moser had St. John’s and the endless opportunities that come with coaching a Big East team in Madison Square Garden, a venue he called the “holy grail” for college basketball coaches. There was also the lure of additional resources and the potential to get better recruits.

Oh, and don’t forget the eight-year deal St. John’s offered, which was reportedly worth up to $18 million.

In a conversation with the Sun-Times, which has been edited for clarity, Moser talks about his decision to turn down a lucrative deal at St. John’s to stay at Loyola — for now:

People told me in the profession, “Porter, you set the bar high. You went to the Final Four. Now you win the league, and everyone is disappointed.” Man, that’s a tough bar.

Everyone in the coaching world is kind of like, “Get out now.” I hear all that all the time. “You can’t do any more at Loyola.”

Things kind of escalated with St. John’s, and the next thing I know, I’m flying out Monday morning. In the back of my head, I’m thinking, ‘‘Gosh dang.’’ My gut was wrenching because of my players on the team and giving my word to these families 24 hours earlier [Moser had two high school players commit on the spot after their recruiting visits Sunday]. But I get it. I know what the business is.

I was flying back Tuesday with my wife, and I literally sat down and wrote two letters. I wrote a letter that said, “Dear Rambler nation,” and it was thanking them for eight amazing years. . . . It was an emotional letter saying goodbye, I’m ready for my next journey.

And then I penned a letter that was actually the one that I sent out, saying that I’m all in.

I can’t predict a future. I can’t. I mean, I’d like to say, ‘‘Yes, [I’ll retire at Loyola],’’ because I love it here, I’m happy, I’m from here.

With that, I want to be someone on this platform talking about how this so-called mid-major — I hate using mid-major, so I’ll say conferences outside the Power 6 — [is put at a disadvantage]. The NET rankings, the scheduling, the conferences going from scheduling 20 games to this Quad 1, Quad 2, Quad 3 — everything that’s taking place is gearing toward the top six.

The thing that intrigued me about the St. John’s job is the thing that will probably continue to intrigue me. The body of work in conferences outside the Power 6 is becoming less and less important. And I think that’s a really, really bad thing. And what I mean about that is, you can grind for four or five months, win your conference — which is a big deal — and anything can happen within three days to get that automatic bid, and if you don’t get it, you’re deemed a failure.

That’s wrong.

I can’t just say whom I want to play; it has to be a mutual agreement. So if I can’t play those teams to get enough wins in the Quad 1, Quad 2 or Quad 3, how am I going to get into the tournament unless you win that tournament in the end? That is what is making mid-major coaches want to leave when they have a little bit of success. And that was what drew me — the Big East getting multiple bids.

But what drew me back here is the love that I have for this place, the love that I have for Chicago. And the love that I have for my players and the blood, sweat and tears I’ve put into this place that I just want to keep going.

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