- Andy Katz, ESPN.com Senior Writer
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Ensuring the Mexican National team was competitive during the Tournament of Americas in Las Vegas last August changed former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson's perception about what he wants to do with the rest of his career.
He wants to coach, and now he's not concerned about the level or the resources.
That's why Richardson is no longer fixated on getting back to a high level. Instead, he is seriously interested in the Arkansas State opening or something like that, in the coming months.
Richardson said Tuesday that he will meet with school officials in Jonesboro, Ark., later in the week, possibly on Thursday.
"I want to see it, I want to see if they can make it an interesting situation for me, if it's a place where I can win," Richardson told ESPN.com. "I remember playing some of those teams in [the Sun Belt Conference]. I don't just want a job, I like to win."
Richardson told ESPN.com in August while preparing the Mexican National team in El Paso that he wanted to return at a high level. He said then that he hadn't received a single phone call about a job interview. But Richardson, 66, said at the time he had made it clear he wasn't interested in lower profile jobs.
So what happened?
Richardson said the perceived baggage he brought, because he sued the school after being fired in 2002, would eventually blackball him from a high-level job.
"That's been proving I was right," Richardson said.
The experience with the Mexican job, though, changed his perception.
"Arkansas State is at the bottom, there's nowhere to go but up," said Richardson of ASU, which is looking to replace Dickey Nutt after a 10-19 season (5-13 in the Sun Belt with one game left at North Texas Wednesday).
"I like history, I like going over to the other state school in Arkansas and doing something that means something and changing the landscape," Richardson said. "That's important to me. It intrigues me a little bit and motivates me."
Richardson said there wasn't much of a Mexican program before he took over and guided the Mexicans to the Tournament of Americas where they were a competitive team throughout the field. Richardson said he is done with his commitment to the Mexican National Team and won't be coaching them in 2009 when international competition resumes after the Beijing Olympics in August. Mexico didn't qualify for the Olympics.
"Those are the kind of things that show your worth as a coach, to take something and turn it around," Richardson said.
Richardson said he's as physically fit as he has been in years. He said after he was fired he went on a diet and hasn't gained weight back since then. He said a coach has to be fit on the practice court and have plenty of energy, characteristics that he says he still has at his age.
"The fire in the belly is there and when March comes around I'm excited and love the tournament time," Richardson said. "This is when I miss [coaching] the most."
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
Nolan Richardson is no longer fixated on getting back to a high level. Instead, he is seriously interested in the Arkansas State opening or something like that, in the coming months.