CLEVELAND - If Chris Mullin wants to coach at his alma mater, St. John's should offer him the job as head basketball coach, no questions asked.
Not because it would be a great PR move, which is undeniable. Not because he's the leading scorer in school history, his jersey hangs in Carnesecca Arena and he's a Hall of Famer and a two-time Olympic gold medalist, including as part of the 1992 "Dream Team."
Not even because Mullin is the most prominent link to St. John's 1985 Final Four team.
All of those accomplishments certainly are part of the resume that qualifies him for the job, but they are far from the sum total of reasons to offer it to him. The reason you ask Chris Mullin if he wants to return to coach the Red Storm is because he is the embodiment of St. John's basketball -- everything it once was and everything it can be again.
He would be succeeding not Steve Lavin but Lou Carnesecca as the guardian of the program.
If Mullin wants that responsibility, the job should be his for the taking. Never mind that he never has been a coach. That can be fixed with the addition of a veteran bench coach, and if you think Mullin doesn't know his X's and O's, you don't know what you're talking about.
Some of the school's most ardent supporters might oppose it on the grounds that the school should hire an experienced college coach who understands what it takes to build a sustainable program and to recruit with the energy it takes to get the talent to compete at an elite level.
Some worry that Mullin's legacy as the greatest player in school history might be tainted if he failed as a coach. I don't get that. If anything, a sincere attempt to restore the program would burnish it.
Personally, I believe many people underestimate Mullin. Maybe it's the Brooklyn accent. Although he was a great player, he never sought the spotlight. Sometimes he displayed his sense of humor to the media, but more often, he went out of his way to avoid undue attention.
Though he might not always choose to share his insights publicly, he has a great basketball mind, and he's very perceptive when it comes to judging people and situations. Just ask his past coaches and teammates.
When his NBA career ended, he moved into a front-office role, taking over as Golden State's general manager from 2004-09. The Warriors had their first two winning seasons in 12 years under his leadership.
At the moment, Mullin is a special adviser with the Sacramento Kings, supervising their college and international scouting programs. In other words, NBA-style recruiting.
It would be natural to assume that today's generation of players has no idea who Mullin is. But put him in place as St. John's coach and that would change in a hurry because of the media attention that would ensue. Do you think Mullin might make an entrance when he visited gyms around the country, and especially in the New York City area? Oh, and he knows how to find those gyms.
The list of potential candidates for the St. John's job has been widely publicized and includes some respected coaches. This is no knock on any of them.
But in my view, before St. John's president Conrado "Bobby" Gempesaw talks to anyone else, it's incumbent on him to approach Mullin and offer the job to him. Just put the basketball in his lap and allow him to determine whether he has the desire to commit to the project.
No doubt, he would have to consult with his family about uprooting from California to return to New York. He's been on the West Coast for the past 30 years.
But if Mullin says yes, St. John's will know it has someone who takes the school's success personally and who will give it all he has. If you ask me, the St. John's job has Mullin's name written all over it.