The three Big Ten jobs (Illinois, Minnesota and Rutgers) seem to be at least possibilities for opening up, as well as some national possibilities. Pat Forde touches on a few more in an article from today…
Some quick thoughts on some of these, plus one starting to percolate just a tiny bit which would dwarf any of these mentioned.
Louisville – There are rumors that Rick Pitino might opt to split town over the prostitution allegations and start anew in Vegas. His persona and personality couldn’t possibly be a better fit there, so if he’s looking for a golden parachute, that would be a great option. Forde mentions Jay Wright as a possible successor if that move were to take place. I would think a wide range of coaches would be under consideration and vice versa. Louisville is a great job, a top 10 job nationally IMO in most ways. Facilities, support, conference affiliation, tradition, etc. Really the only way it’s not is that the natural recruiting turf isn’t as strong as some other places but when you consider proximity to southern Ohio, Southern Indiana, etc. even that isn’t so bad…plus the program has never had an issue getting kids from all over.
This is the type of job where you really have a hard time putting limiters on who might be interested. Other than the elite programs…Duke, KU, UK, UNC, MSU…I don’t think you could necessarily rule out a coach from anywhere, given what Louisiville is and the money they’d be likely to spend. Jay Wright makes some sense on the surface. What about Matta? Would they try to make him a Godfather offer, and would OSU match (they certainly could…would they?). What about luring Sean Miller closer to home? How about a real wildcard move like a Bob Huggins? Maybe one of the hot younger guys like Chris Mack? Archie Miller? Gregg Marshall?
IU – I’ve talked about this before but I don’t see Crean getting the ziggy unless the bottom falls out over the next couple of weeks. The impact of his buyout is dropping though as time moves on…pressure won’t be lessening going forward.
Wisconsin – I’ve said it several times, if Greg Gard gets this team a Tourney bid, he deserves that job. He was coming out of a major hole, both record wise and in terms of level of play from his team. Does Alvarez feel enough pressure to keep a guy he pretty clearly didn’t want? If the job opens up, who knows what happens? I just can’t see Tony Bennett leaving Virginia…there’s no upside to his taking the Wisconsin job other than returning home. Is it true they are targeting Ben Jacobson? I like Jacobson a great deal and I think he’s going to get a Big Ten job (or maybe Big XII if someone from that league grabs him first) but man, Gard has been very impressive.
Memphis – Pastner’s on the ropes and with good reason. The guy has been the epitome of great recruiter/questionable coach from the moment he replaced Calipari. I look at that job at Louisville-Light in some ways, except that there’s actually a better home turf recruiting base to work from, as that city always produces good talent. Great fan support and there’s money behind that program. I always associate Memphis with flash, so I wonder if they might make a move on someone like King Rice? Forde mentions Bruce Pearl…he’d fit in a lot of ways but would he leave Auburn that quickly? Could they pay enough to get an Archie Miller to move? Would he see that as a better job than the one he’s already got?
Missouri – Kim Anderson has been a disaster but it’s not all his fault, as Frank Haith left a crater behind. I sort of think they can’t fire him this quickly but if they did, this should be an attractive job on its face. There’s tradition there, you’re in a weak Power 5 conference so there’s an opportunity to make a mark. Forde mentions Jerod Haase of UAB… he knows the area well enough having been an assistant at KU. No idea where else they might turn.
Oklahoma State – I’ve heard the guy from Stephen F Austin is supposed to be the choice for this job. Forde mentions Marshall. To me, this job doesn’t feel big enough for the latter to take. I know T Boone and his wallet, but the sense I have is that Marshall is going the Shaka route…it’s not just about the paycheck but rather the opportunity to take over a job which can consistently be in the top 10. I’m no Shaka fan but he took one of the best non-elite jobs possible, a place where the resources are great, pressure isn’t too much, and you can win. I think Marshall is thinking along similar lines…wait for a KU/UNC type job to open up.
Georgia Tech – It’s all over but the shouting for Brian Gregory. This is an interesting one. History says you can win there, and Lord knows Georgia as a state produces plenty of talent (keeping it home is another story). Forde mentions Haase and King Rice…also says Bryce Drew but I don’t see that fit. Drew’s a Midwest guy and I think if he’s looking to move, there will be jobs available at the same or better level as GaTech much closer to home.
Now, the one nobody’s really talking about but I’m starting to wonder…UNC. Forde mentions it at the end of the coaching section in his piece but it’s not getting a lot of play… but Roy Williams had another health scare about a week ago, collapsing after yelling at an official. The explanation was “positional vertigo,” which is something he’s been dealing with for close to a decade now. OK, maybe that’s all it was, or maybe it was something else. We don’t know, but it’s not any type of “good” regardless.
Now add in a couple of other factors. One being that UNC still has this NCAA investigation spectre hanging over the program. I know there’s a lot of sentiment that Carolina will skate without serious repercussion and maybe that’s how it will work out in the end. No one knows for sure, though. The other is that Carolina has sort of cycled up to this particular group. After this season is over, it’s going to be a bit of a rebuild. Now that’s “rebuild” Carolina style, which means they’ll still have a lot of talent and they’ve even managed to land a good incoming recruiting class, though not an elite one ala MSU/Duke/UK. If you look at those two factors plus his health, it sort of makes sense that Ol’Roy might view this as the right time to step aside.
If he does, unless the NCAA indicates it’s going scorched earth (and I don’t see that happening), this will be the crown jewel of available jobs. I would say anyone other than K, Tom Izzo, Cal and Bill Self would be a possibility.