Home It’s Flaming Keyboard Season: Good time to talk about what’s next for Tony Bennett
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It’s Flaming Keyboard Season: Good time to talk about what’s next for Tony Bennett

Scott German
tony bennett uva basketball
Photo: Mike Ingalls/AFP

Major League Baseball has its Hot Stove Season, the period following the World Series and spring training.

Free agent signings and trades are most common.

The term Hot Stove League refers to the sport’s off-season and evokes images of baseball fans gathering around a hot stove during the cold months to chatter about their favorite teams and players.

During the Hot Stove Season, teams are actively making trades, signing free agents, and making roster adjustments in planning for the next season.

It’s a time where rumors run rampant, negotiations heat up and fans eagerly follow every move their favorite team makes.

Hum, that sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

Move other MLB, you’ve got competition.

NCAA men’s basketball is breathing down your neck.

Not in the cold months, but as the weather starts to heat up.

Not around hot stoves, but computer keyboards, where participants can make bold statements and hide behind CB handles.

We need a name for this time of the year, something to rival MLB’s Hot Stove Season.

Maybe Flaming Keyboard Season or There’s Nothing Better to do Season.

Any suggestions?

Which leads me to the point of this article.

Thanks to my friend and colleague Chris Graham, the cat’s out of the bag regarding the contract details of Virginia men’s basketball coach Tony Bennett.

For some reason, the folks in the UVA Basketball office made Chris file some legal mumble-jumble (FOIA) to attain this, but that’s what UVA does best.

They kick the can down the road, knowing all along where it’s going to roll.

They should know better.

Or they should know Chris Graham better.

Chris takes the term “watchdog” seriously.

Very seriously.

But I digress.

What we know as a fact is that Bennett is under contract for two more seasons, and no contract extensions have been offered by UVA.

Now, back to the Flaming Keyboard Season (since I’m writing this, I selected that moniker), where the rumors are flying like home runs at Disharoon Park.

Many believe that Virginia has offered at least one extension, maybe more to Bennett, but he has declined to sign.

If true, how is this possible, unless … Bennett is planning to leave Charlottesville or retire.

Or both.

Or neither.

To be honest, we don’t know.

Why?

Because the good folks at UVA Athletics choose to keep things under tight wraps, under a Kremlin-like protocol.

And the fans are left to speculate.

We’re still waiting for an official release from UVA regarding a “rumored” non-basketball accident to a current member of the men’s basketball team.

No worries, however, Chris is on that beat as well.

Again, I digress.

I wrote back in January that the finish line was in sight for Bennett.

I followed that column up shortly thereafter by slightly backing off that premise.

I regret that.

This latest news about Bennett’s contract status only makes me think that the finish line for Bennett, at least at UVA, is still close.

As I wrote in January, maybe it’s possible that he’s fed up with the way college athletics is trending toward professional sports with NIL and the dreaded instant transfer portal mess.

If he walks away at the end of his contract, he would not be the first high-profile coach to take that approach.

Jay Wright at Villanova and Nick Saban at Alabama both said, “see you.”

A friend of mine, who has been in the college basketball coaching ranks for decades, said the standard or the goal for any head coach is to always be operating with a minimum of four years remaining on his contract.

From Bennett’s contract status, we know for fact he has only two years left and has apparently not sought an extension.

That sounds like an exit strategy.

Sorry, don’t shoot the messenger.

So, if Bennett says enough is enough, and who could blame him, what’s his next move?

Is it to remain in the college ranks?

If so, he could write his own check at many schools.

Despite that ugly offense that occasionally scores in the 40s.

Wright, allegedly, turned down multiple offers this past season for more than $9 million per year.

Yikes!

But for Tony’s next stop, don’t rule out the NBA.

Why?

Several reasons.

For starters, he’s practically coaching professional athletes now.

“Student-athletes,” please.

Players that are always under one-year contracts, with the transfer portal shenanigans.

What we know is that Bennett is friends with the owner of the San Antonio Spurs ownership family.

The Spurs are coached by soon to be Hall-of Famer Gregg Popovich.

Popovich signed a new five-year deal to remain on the sidelines in 2024.

For $16 million per season.

Well, that could be a roadblock, except Popovich will turn 76 in January.

Maybe “Pops” takes his million and finally retires.

Maybe, say in the next two years.

Again, don’t shoot me.

It is Flaming Keyboard Season.

Scott German

Scott German

Scott German covers UVA Athletics for AFP, and is the co-host of “Street Knowledge” podcasts focusing on UVA Athletics with AFP editor Chris Graham. Scott has been around the ‘Hoos his whole life. As a reporter, he was on site for UVA basketball’s Final Fours, in 1981 and 1984, and has covered UVA football in bowl games dating back to its first, the 1984 Peach Bowl.