By Jeff Goodman
SPOKANE, Wash. - Now I get it.
Mark Few's name is seemingly always out there circulating in late-March and throughout April. When Arizona was looking for a coach a couple years ago, Few's name was near the top of the list. Same for Indiana and, of course, Oregon.
Few isn't going anywhere. Ever.
Trust me on this one.
I never quite understood it, but after taking my first trip to Spokane for the Zags' win over Saint Mary's last night, I'll no longer question why Few spurns just everyone.
Life is good for Few in Spokane.
No, life is great.
He's an outdoors man, a family man, one of the few in this industry who seem to walk the walk and truly put the balance of work and family from words into action.
"He sees things in a different light than most people," said Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti. "And he has the balance to make it work."
There's multiple fishing spots an hour away in just about every direction. He wakes up, steps outside his log cabin and looks out into a picturesque view of the valley.
"The worst day of the year for me is the first day of school," Few said to me a few hours prior to Thursday night's win over the Gaels. "And the best day is the last day of school."
That's because the 48-year-old Few has a chance to spend more time with his four young children (ages 3 to 12). On Wednesday night, just 24 hours or so before the Zags biggest game of the season, he could be found at his oldest son A.J's trumpet recital. He heads to his favorite lunch spot and no one bothers him as he blends in with all the natives.
He'll never be confused with Tom Izzo for his unrelenting work ethic, but that doesn't bother him. He's at peace with himself and what he does to keep the program as one of the elite and most consistent in the country. He doesn't have to go out and speak to alumni on a nightly basis like some coaches, but he has helped organize an annual Coaches vs. Cancer event that has raised more than $5 million -- second only to Syracuse.
Few understands what he has and is more than just content with it. The Zags have one of the elite student sections in the nation, Few is able to take private plans just about everywhere he needs to go out recruiting -- and his team charters just about everywhere as well.
Few's an icon in these parts, having taken this program to an unparalleled level for a non-BCS outfit. There is the 334-87 overall record. There's been an NCAA appearance every single season he's been at the helm and also that 11-year streak of winning a league title that's in jeopardy with the Zags currently trailing Saint Mary's by one game.
Those will criticize him for his inability to get to a Final Four, but Few isn't consumed by it. Instead, he beckons back to the consistency for this program, one that has become a fixture in the Top 25 over the past decade or so.
Few could have gone to Indiana and had an opportunity to play in the Big Ten. He could have gone to Arizona and had a chance to regularly compete for Final Fours. He could have gone back home to Oregon, where he went to school. It's a stone's throw from where his parents reside.
But he opted to remain in Spokane -- and he's never leaving.