Going to be a fascinating year.
Three jobs currently open which are very high if not at the top of the “are they elite, near elite, or graveyard” variety in Illinois, Missouri and NC State. All three have tradition (though only NC State has a national title (I don’t count the one Illinois claims from 1915). All three are schools where basketball is arguably king…it’s at least a peer of football at those places. All are in major conferences with strong fanbases.
Yet, you have to wonder about the wisdom of taking any of those jobs. All three seem to be on a path where they’re looking to get a current Power 5 head coach…I’m not sure that they’ll all be successful.
Illinois – Word is now circulating that they were trying to get Monty Williams at least for the last month, but he’s turned them down. Has interest in getting another NBA head coaching job and not interested in the college game. I’m hearing Tony Bennett. I don’t see that because Bennett has his thing going at UVa and why would you swap that out for a job that’s essentially a lateral move? Unless he has a burning desire to get back to the Midwest, that doesn’t make any sense.
Cuonzo Martin makes sense. He’s a traveling man and there’s just too much smoke around his leaving Cal to not believe he’s going *somewhere*. Thing is, his background makes sense for both this job at Mizzou, so there’s competition.
If Illinois is willing to really go back to the dark side, I could see Scott Drew (reportedly looking to get out of a bad university environment at Baylor) or Buzz Williams. Just saw UI’s AD claim at a press conference that following the rules will be a priority. If true, rule those guys out. If not? The Illini could get back in the Chicago game in a big way, because guys like these two don’t GAF.
A darkhorse name? Tim Jankovich from SMU. He’s from Gary, Indiana. Played at K State. Been in coaching forever and was an assistant for Bill Self at both Illinois and KU. Assistant to Larry Brown at SMU before taking over for him, so you know he’s comfortable with coloring outside the lines.
Dan Muller at Illinois State makes sense to me but probably would have had a stronger candidacy if his team had made the Tournament instead of just missing.
Missouri – Cuonzo Martin, a native of East St.Louis, is the name which makes the most sense to me, but Illinois might be competition for this job.
Tom Crean if IU and he part ways?
Would Scott Drew look here for a port in a storm to escape Baylor? Missouri will pay and they’re historically comfortable with cheaters.
Some talk about Travis Ford. Mediocre at Okie State, bad year at St.Louis but he’s recruited well to that school already (good incoming class next year) and that would be a positive for the Mizzou job.
Buzz Williams makes some sense here. This is a “better” job in pretty much every way except conference affiliation vis a vis VaTech.
Jankovich and Muller make sense here as well. Lots of overlap between this job and Illinois, which could prove really interesting.
NC State – I don’t think alum/favorite son Arch Miller is taking this job. It seems no one does. Crazy fanbase, large expectations and yet very stiff competition make this the toughest of these three gigs IMO.
More so than Illinois and Missouri, I think these people may have to go the mid major route. Their AD is not well respected and I think that plus the inherent challenges in the job are going to make it a very tough sell to an established Power 5 coach.
Will Wade of VCU would be a name. Kevin Keatts of UNC Wilmington makes all kinds of sense to me. Pat Kelsey from Winthrop (located in South Carolina) also would be a logical candidate of this type.