College basketball coaching changes: Alabama parts ways with Avery Johnson; Cal cuts ties with Wyking Jones
Alabama and Avery Johnson mutually part ways, opening a third SEC job, while Jones is out at Cal
College basketball was not short on off-court, non-NCAA Tournament news on Sunday. Two major-conference jobs came open.
Cal announced Sunday afternoon that Wyking Jones was fired; Jones was previously given assurance that he would stay on for a third season after a 16-47 record in his first two years with the school.
"I am grateful to Wyking for his unflagging dedication and commitment to our program during his tenure at Cal, both as a head coach and as an assistant coach," Cal AD Jim Knowlton said. "I have witnessed -- and respected -- his strong work ethic, commitment to the University's mission and, perhaps most importantly, his extraordinary care and concern for our student-athletes."
But a change was due. The Oregonian reported that Jones' time was over in light of multiple Cal players meeting with Knowlton earlier in the week. With Cal open, former Golden Bear Jason Kidd will be named as a candidate for the job but he'll hardly be the only one. UC Irvine's Russell Turner, Montana's Travis DeCuire and San Francisco's Kyle Smith will factor in. Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett has turned down the job before.
The Cal opening came some hours after Alabama officially split with men's basketball coach Avery Johnson.
"After meeting with Coach Johnson, we made the decision to mutually part ways," Alabama AD Greg Byrne said. "This was not an easy decision, and we thank him for his contributions over the past four seasons. We wish Coach Johnson and his family the very best."
The change comes following Alabama's 80-79 home loss to Norfolk State in the NIT which, statistically, was one of the most unlikely outcomes of the 2018-19 season. Johnson's past four seasons with Alabama: 75 wins, 62 losses. He took the Tide to the NCAA Tournament in 2018, his only appearance there in his tenure. The move is a surprise in part because Alabama has the 19th-rated recruiting class for 2019, according to 247 Sports.
Alabama assistant John Pelphrey will stay on as interim head coach until Johnson's replacement is named. Candidates for the job are listed in the table below.
The SEC now has three coaching vacancies; Vanderbilt fired Bryce Drew on Friday, in a move that was more shocking than the Johnson change with the Tide. (A&M is also open.) Drew was let go after three years and a 40-59 record. He took Vandy to the NCAA Tournament in his first season in 2017, and this past season enrolled the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history. Had former five-star point guard prospect Darius Garland not gone down with an injury five games into the season, Vandy would have certainly been a better team and not gone 9-23. Garland projects as a top-10 NBA pick even in light of the injury.
The school's new athletic director, Malcolm Turner, has not even been on the job for two months. This is a move that would suggest Turner has a name or two in mind to hire with a quickness. It's also a move drawing in criticism. Turner was not around the men's basketball program much in his first few weeks on the job and is trying to immediately shake up the athletic department.
Drew posted this statement on Twitter.
Elsewhere, a major-conference coaching gig closed on Sunday: Georgia State's Ron Hunter, fresh off a loss to Houston on Friday in the NCAAs, took the Tulane opening. Hunter will try to flip the Green Wave program in the American Athletic Conference, which is set to be even stronger next season. The AAC put four teams into this year's NCAA Tournament.
There are 33 jobs that have gone or will undergo changeover at this point. More are near-certain to open in the next few days. The biggest gigs available as of now: UCLA, Texas A&M, Temple, UNLV, Saint Joe's and Washington State. Nebraska is expected to formally open as soon as the Cornhuskers play their final game of the season. And now there's Alabama and Vandy.
This is the latest look at the coaching carousel.
|Team||Out||In||What to know|
|Steve Alford||TBD||The job is no longer considered top-10 in college basketball (though UCLA as a program on the whole, historically, still is, of course), but it's unquestionably a top-20 gig in the sport. Tony Bennett, Chris Beard and Luke Walton are among the buzziest names that have been mentioned as candidates. Those are men with different styles -- and it's possible if not likely that someone else outside that group winds up in Westwood. The fact this search has been kept somewhat quiet is also a testament to some of the high-ranking people in basketball, like the GM of the Golden State Warriors, who have played a role in the hiring process. |
|Avery Johnson||TBD||Alabama and Avery Johnson officially split on Sunday. Now, an interesting pool of candidates will be in play. In addition to Steve Prohm getting a look, remember, Gregg Marshall turned the job last time. This is a top-five job in the SEC. Murray State coach Matt McMahon is also worthy of a real look. John Pelphrey is the interim for now.|
|Billy Kennedy||TBD||Kennedy's time in College Station ends after eight season. The Aggies went to the Sweet 16 in 2018 and 2016, but never made the NCAA tourney in the six other years under Kennedy. He finishes with a record of 151-116. Sources told CBS Sports that A&M has been targeting Buzz Williams to be Kennedy's successor. The Virginia Tech coach is in his fifth season with the Hokies and has the school in the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season -- which has never been done before in school history. Buying out Kennedy and his staff will cost A&M close to $5 million.|
|Wyking Jones||TBD||A nice job but a tough job. Cal needs to commit more to men's basketball to give itself a chance of being what its ceiling is: a perennial top-five team in the Pac-12.|
|Fran Dunphy||Aaron McKie||McKie, who played at Temple , was named the successor to Dunphy when the news came out in 2018 that the 2018-19 season would be Dunphy's last at TU. Dunphy's time at Temple ends with a 270-162 record. He won 580 games in his coaching career. Dunphy is 70.|
|Marvin Menzies||TBD||The UNLV opening is guaranteed to bring in a wide array of candidates. With the shine off the program, yet another rebuild is under way. Menzies previously had success at New Mexico State and figures to get another shot a mid-major coaching job down the road. A name I think would be really interesting and would work: Andy Kennedy.|
|Bryce Drew||TBD||The Drew news received surprise around the sport, as just three seasons seemed way to short a time, especially considering the Garland injury. Vandy is a good school -- but an average job in the SEC.|
|Phil Martelli||TBD||Martelli is a coaching legend in Philadelphia. It remains unknown if he'll seek more coaching opportunities at this stage or will retire from the profession. Recruiting in Philadelphia takes a certain kind of coach with a lot of connections in the area. I don't expect Saint Joe's too have its process last more than two weeks. Robert Morris coach Andy Toole would be an ideal candidate.|
|Ernie Kent||TBD||Kent is out after five years in Pullman. Most in the industry consider this to be the toughest job in a BCS conference. To start, Washington State brass would be smart to inquire on Boise State's Leon Rice , Montana's Travis DeCuire, UC Irvine's Russell Turner and Seattle's Jim Hayford.|
|Barry Hinson||Bryan Mullins||Hinson announced his resignation on March 8 after Southern Illinois lost in the quarterfinals of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. He spent seven seasons with the Salukis and did not make an NCAA Tournament. Former SIU point guard Bryan Mullins takes over and in doing so gets his first opportunity as a head coach.|
|Maurice Joseph||Jamion Christian||The George Washington job is an interesting one because it's in a good location but is almost always going to fall behind Georgetown , Maryland , Virginia Tech, VCU and other regional powers in the recruiting pecking order. Landing Christian, a rising star, puts GW on the path to a competitive return in the A-10. Joseph inherited the job under tough circumstances. No shame in his exodus.|
|Mike Dunleavy||Ron Hunter||Georgia State's Ron Hunter will make the move after eight years and two NCAA Tournaments with the Panthers. Hunter averaged 21.4 wins at Georgia State and figures to be a sizable upgrade over Dunleavy, who was never a good fit for college basketball.|
|Saul Phillips||Jeff Boals|
Boals heads back to Ohio -- his alma mater -- and spent the past three seasons coaching Stony Brook, going 55-41. For Phillips, might he link up with Tim Miles again down the road? The two are close friends and could make for the most entertaining hire at a program -- either this year or next.
|Bob Hoffman||TBD||You beat Duke in a No. 15 over No. 2 game, an all-time March Madness moment, and five years later you're canned. That's the reality for Hoffman, who was terminated on March 11 after 11 seasons. All told, Hoffman was good when it came to winning in the SoCon: he averaged 19 victories per season. Slippage in the Big South and expectations locally forced the change.|
|Tony Shaver||TBD||William & Mary , which has never made the NCAA Tournament, parted ways with Shaver after 16 seasons. The search is only beginning and will have a varied pool of candidates.|
|Corey Williams||TBD||Williams was 58-133 in six seasons with the Hatters. This past season, Stetson was just 7-24 and a change was inevitable. Stetson has never made an NCAA Tournament. |
|Jamion Christian||Carm Maciariello||Christian leaving for GW opened up an opportunity for Siena to promote Maciariello -- an alumnus -- from within. Maciariello was passed over on the GW job three years ago, but gets his chance now.|
|Ron Hunter||TBD||Hunter's swift decision to leave Georgia State within 24 hours of his team losing to Houston in the NCAA Tournament puts the Sun Belt school in a tough-if-somewhat-expected bind. This is a good job in that league. Atlanta-based.|
|Sydney Johnson||TBD||Johnson was given one more year in 2018-19, but the former Princeton player and coach couldn't turn what many believe is the MAAC's sleeping power. Johnson lasted eight seasons with the Stags but never had a better year than his first, when FU went 22-15. Louisville assistant Luke Murray is a Fairfield graduate and figures to get a good look here.|
|Jim Fox||TBD||Fox lasted five years with the Mountaineers, going 56-99. This might be one of the better low-major jobs in the country, but the program hasn't been to the NCAAs since 2000.|
|Jeff Boals||TBD||Boals leaves after three seasons in Long Island, heading back to Ohio. This is a tough but promising job in the America East. It's also sought-after by a number of high-major assistants.|
|Chris Casey||TBD||Casey lasted six seasons at one of the toughest jobs in the MAAC. The Purple Eagles will start over after losing four seniors and potentially even more players now that Casey's been dumped. Patrick Beilein, who has coached at Le Moyne in recent years, can have the job if he wants it.|
|Phil Cunningham||TBD||Cunningham led Troy to the NCAAs in 2017 as a No. 15 seed, but the school cut ties after a 12-18 season this year. Troy is a middle-of-the-road gig in the wide-open Sun Belt.|
|Al Skinner||TBD||Skinner coached the Owls for four seasons and leaves with a 41-84 record. Kennesaw State has been D-I since 2005-06 and never finished higher than 252nd at KenPom.|
|Matt Matheny||TBD||Matheny is out after a decade and no NCAA Tournament appearances with the Phoenix. He was given a lot of slack, but a change was overdue.|
|Joe Callero||TBD||Callero went 126-182 in his time at Cal Poly . It's a tough job in the Big West. Callero took the Mustangs to the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Expect the next coach to come with West Coast ties, as is usually the case with mid-major gigs in California . |
|Todd Bozeman||TBD||After 13 years, Bozeman is done following a 9-21 season. Morgan State made the NCAAs under him in 2009 and 2010. Quality job at the MEAC level.|
|Brian Fish||TBD||Fish loses his job after dealing with the death of his adult-aged daughter less than a month ago, which comes off as harsh on the administrative side at MSU. Maybe wait even a couple more weeks and be sure this is the move? Fish won 11 league games two of the past three seasons.|
|Steve Payne||TBD||Payne held a 118-134 in eight seasons with the Golden Eagles. After two 19-win seasons in the past three years, an 8-23 run doomed Payne, who was working at one of the toughest low-major jobs in college hoops. The school is going to need to find a diamond in the rough in order to flip the program and get it competing alongside the likes of Belmont , Murray State , Jacksonville State and Austin Peay . |
|Jon Harris||Brian Barrone||A four-year run at another very tough gig ends for Harris, who had his best record in 2018-19 (10-21) of any of his seasons at SIU-E. The school is only a decade into its existence in D-I. Brian Barrone was upgraded to interim status; he's reportedly set to lead the program for next season.|
|Kareem Richardson||TBD||Richardson spent the past six seasons at UMKC and averaged 12.5 wins. A very tough job but in a good location and can win in the WAC with the right coach. (It also needs a different conference.)|
|Andrey Payne||TBD||Payne lasted five seasons at Mississippi Valley State, going 31-132 overall.|
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