Duke's Mike Krzyzewski announced this week that he'll continue as coach of USA Basketball at least through the 2016 Olympics, meaning a "college coach" will ultimately be in charge of our senior national team for a decade.
I'm not sure that'll ever happen again.
But Krzyzewski's dominance in this role -- he's 62-1 overall with gold medals in both the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics -- got me thinking about which other college coaches might be good fits to take on such a responsibility, and I must've bounced 15 names around, debated them internally. To be clear, I'm not predicting the following list will ever get a shot; in fact, I think the odds are probably stacked against most of them, for a variety of reasons. But if the question is about which other current college coaches might be equipped to lead the world's best players in international competitions someday, my answer would start with these five men (listed in alphabetical order):
John Calipari (Kentucky)
Why he'd work: Calipari is a master of convincing great players to play hard and well together, even if this past season flies in the face of that statement. Yes, I know, he's widely considered to be a "failed NBA coach" because of his stint with the Nets. But Calipari has changed so much since those days, and he's much better suited to manage egos now than he was when he got his first NBA job at the age of 37.
Billy Donovan (Florida)
Why he'd work: Donovan has put more than a dozen players in the NBA -- most notably Mike Miller, Joakim Noah, Chandler Parsons, David Lee, Brad Beal and Al Horford -- and consistently juggled talented rosters while turning Florida into one of college basketball's elite programs. Like Calipari, Donovan not only understands how to coach players but also how to manage them, and his recent success with USA Basketball -- Donovan led the U18 team to a gold medal last summer -- suggests he's more than capable.
Tom Izzo (Michigan State)
Why he'd work: Izzo could've been an NBA coach by now many times over, most recently with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He's more loved than liked and universally respected. Plus, he wins -- overwhelmingly and consistently. Izzo's credibility would almost certainly resonate with pros and allow him to be successful in international competitions.
Bill Self (Kansas)
Why he'd work: I really do think it's important to have the proper combination of strong credentials and good personality to succeed in this role, and Self just might have the best combination of any college coach of those two things. He knows when to push, when to pull and has a unique knack for questioning his players and holding them accountable without alienating them. That's a valuable quality for a high-level coach.
Brad Stevens (Butler)
Why he'd work: This is the outside-the-box choice, I know. But Stevens' resume and knowledge of the game would command the respect of professionals, even if they entered as skeptics. In other words, the way that Stevens carries himself, his demeanor, is impossible to dismiss. He's a smart and likeable guy who doubles as a brilliant coach, which is why he could succeed with USA Basketball if given the opportunity.