College basketball coaching changes: John Brannen hired by Cincinnati to replace Mick Cronin
Mid-April is here and we still have new jobs opening up in college hoops; here's the full list
Northern Kentucky coach John Brannen was hired Sunday by Cincinnati athletic director Mike Bohn, making Brannen the successor to Mick Cronin, who was hired by UCLA on April 9.
Brannen guided NKU to a 72-30 record the past three seasons and made the NCAA Tournament twice with the Norse. In getting the job, Brannen won out over associate head coach Darren Savino, who will now go to UCLA with Cronin.
"He has a proven record as a head coach, longtime ties to the local community and coaches an exciting style of basketball," Bohn said Sunday of Brannen. "We were impressed with his passion, drive, determination and basketball acumen during the interview process where he truly emerged as the best coach to lead the Cincinnati basketball program with a bright future."
Brannen previously spent time as an assistant at Alabama and VCU, among other spots.
This was the latest move on the carousel, though Sunday also brought hires at Utah Valley (Mark Madsen) and Wofford (Jay McCauley).
On Thursday, Nevada hired former UCLA coach Steve Alford to a 10-year contract. Alford, who has a career record of 509-269 in 24 seasons at the D-I level, will take his fifth job in these ranks. He was previously also at Missouri State, Iowa and New Mexico and UCLA. It's a high-profile hire for Nevada, which is trying to steady itself as a top-three Mountain West program on an annual basis. Alford was previously successful in the league when he was at UNM. Keep in mind: Alford made three Sweet 16s at UCLA.
We're now up to 53 jobs that have gone or will undergo changeover at this point. Below, our tracker on the latest, with the schools who have not made a hire yet listed up top.
|Team||Out||In||What to know|
|Chris Mullin||TBD||The Mullin hire was a regrettable one, which is unfortunate, considering his standing within that program and the conference as one of the best in Big East history. AD Mike Cragg -- who has strong Duke ties -- could (or might have to) opt for a smaller name. It's a hard job at the moment, which makes luring a sitting/known coach a harder proposition. Bobby Hurley, a name connected to the opening, announced Thursday he signed a new deal to stay at Arizona State. Cragg needs to get this hire right, otherwise, SJU could be spinning the tires for another half-decade. St. John's has made the Big Dance three times since 2002. Its ceiling is high, but the program will reel with a late coaching change and massive roster turnover.|
|Doc Sadler||TBD||Sadler announced his resignation on Thursday, opening up the latest vacancy in D-I. USM went 20-13 this past season and won 62 games in five years under Sadler, who is expected to return to Nebraska -- where he was a head coach from 2006-2012 -- to be an assistant for Fred Hoiberg.|
|Casey Alexander||TBD||Brian Ayers was passed over for Belmont in favor of Alexander heading back there, where he played. Might there be a cross-Nashville trade? Though Ayers was a longtime lead assistant under Rick Byrd at Belmont, he actually went to Lipscomb. The Bisons might just dip their foot into the Belmont pool once more; it worked the last time, when Alexander was lured away from Belmont to coach at LU.|
|John Brannen||TBD||The latest job to open comes via the Horizon League. NKU's been the best program in the conference the past three years. Does it hire within or try to pull a sitting lead assistant in a power conference?|
|Kevin Nickelberry||TBD||Nickelberry's exodus came nine seasons into the job, but also amid having the best player, by far, in the MEAC in R.J. Cole, who'll be a junior next season.|
|Al Skinner||TBD||Skinner coached the Kennesaw State 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. It's said to be a low-major job with solid pay, decent facilities and real promise. Location helps: it's near Atlanta.|
|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.|
|Clifford Reed||TBD||This has been one of the toughest jobs in low-major college basketball over the past decade. Like most other low-major jobs still open, it's been searching for a coach for more than three weeks.|
|Andre Payne||TBD||Payne lasted five seasons at Mississippi Valley State, going 31-132 overall. A tough SWAC job, maybe among the three toughest.|
|Steve Alford||Mick Cronin||Swapping out Alford for Cronin is an upgrade. UCLA's route to get there was noisy and embarrassing. But now Cronin will take over and has the right mindset about building a roster -- and avoiding grad transfers -- that should set up UCLA for steadiness. That's the key thing in the next two years. Just return to top-four status in the Pac-12 and keep the drama away from the program. Then Cronin can try to do what he seldom has: make the Sweet 16. Cronin signed a six-year, $24.5 million contract with the Bruins. |
|Mike Anderson||Eric Musselman||Talk to coaches and those in the greater college hoops industry and they'll tell you that Arkansas has no business not being a top-25 program every single season. It failed that mission under Anderson. It can get back there under Musselman, who is going to ignite this program. The SEC is loaded with coaches, so returning Arkansas to national relevancy should take time, maybe even three years.|
|Mick Cronin||John Brannen||At the very start of the UC search, Brannen was considered a co-frontrunner alongside former UC associate head coach Darren Savino. With Brannen staying local (upgrading from Northern Kentucky, which is not all that far from Cincinnati), the Bearcats' brass is putting faith he can keep the school's record of nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances going.|
|Avery Johnson||Nate Oats||Alabama and Avery Johnson officially split 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. In comes Oats, an up-and-coming coach who went 96-43 in four seasons at Buffalo. Oats agreed to the deal just 13 days after signing a contract extension with Buffalo. He's an unconventional fit, but opted to keep one longtime assistant on the staff, which helps, and retained Kira Lewis, which is a massive decision for Bama's viability next season.|
|Billy Kennedy||Buzz Williams||Kennedy's time in College Station ended after eight seasons. 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 finished with a record of 151-116. I would guess that Williams will have a better mark than that through eight seasons, and yes, I think Williams is in College Station for that long. Jumping again to another job would be a bad look for Buzz, who's gone home and can thrive with this program and its resources.|
|Tim Miles||Fred Hoiberg ||Hoiberg is going to be regarded as one of if not the best hires of the 2019 coaching cycle. A Midwest guy to his core, Hoiberg is a natural fit for the school and figures to have all the financial backing and supportive resources he'll need in order to get this long-dormant men's hoops program into the thick of the Big Ten pecking order.|
|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.|
|Bryce Drew||Jerry Stackhouse|
Vanderbilt makes the move to bring in Stackhouse, the latest example of a former NBA player getting a college coaching gig. This after Vanderbilt fired Bryce Drew in a surprising move. 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.
|Wyking Jones||Mark Fox||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. Fox has a relatively good record overall, and I think this will wind up being a good run for him and Cal. It was unrealistic to ask the school to make a "home run" hire, and so this is a practical choice. Fox was fired in 2018 by Georgia. There, he went 163-133 in eight seasons. Prior to that, Fox worked out west at Nevada, going 123-43 in five seasons. All told, Fox holds a 286-176 mark in his career.|
|Buzz Williams||Mike Young||Virginia Tech got a really good coach. Young made his name last season by getting Wofford to a 7 seed and winning an NCAA Tournament game, but he's been well established as a good coach with a fun offensive scheme for a long time. The challenge for him comes with scheming against some of the best minds in the sport. This feels like a good fit and should be the spot that Young retires at in 8-12 years.|
|Marvin Menzies||T.J. Otzelberger||UNLV will bring in Otzelberger after his three-year run at South Dakota State included two NCAA Tournament trips and a 70-33 record. It looks like a good hire. Otzelberger is built for a job like UNLV, he's a good recruiter, and he was a hotter name than some might realize.|
|Phil Martelli||Billy Lange||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. Lange, a former Philadelphia 76ers and Villanova assistant, was previously the head coach at Navy from 2004-11. The hire was largely celebrated in coaching circles.|
|Dave Rose||Mark Pope||Rose's run ended after 15 years, which included a 4-8 record in the NCAA Tournament and a 173-61 mark overall. Pope was officially named BYU's coach on Wednesday. This was the expected move. Pope averaged 19.3 wins in his four seasons at Utah Valley. He was previously on staff under Rose.|
|Ernie Kent||Kyle Smith||Kent is out after five years in Pullman. Most in the industry consider this to be the toughest job in a BCS conference. Smith has made yet another jump in his career. A few years ago, he was at Columbia. Now he moves on from San Francisco to Washington State with a six-year contract and a big project ahead. I have no idea if this will work or not, but I have a feeling Smith is going to get Wazzu to the NCAA Tournament by 2023.|
|Eric Musselman||Steve Alford||Nevada keeps Alford out West after his end at UCLA. The Wolf Pack will be losing a lot from their roster, so it's unlikely the back-to-back NCAA Tournament reps from the Mountain West will be able to dance again in 2020. Alford signed a 10-year deal to coach in Reno, which is a crazy-high number of years for a school to sign on with for an incoming 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 to Tulane 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.|
|Kyle Smith||Todd Golden||Golden was promoted from within after Smith took the Washington State job. Smith built up USF to top-three status in the WCC in 2018-19, Golden will try to keep that momentum going.|
|Saul Phillips||Jeff Boals|
Boals heads back to Ohio -- his alma mater -- after having 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 eventually.
|Nate Oats||Jim Whitesell||With Oats moving on to Alabama, Buffalo does what was expected and promotes -- after considering a small pool of other candidates -- Jim Whitesell from within. It's an interesting moment for the program: Bobby Hurley got UB to its first NCAA Tournament ever, then Oats took the program to its apex. Can Whitesell continue the ascent?|
|Rick Byrd||Casey Alexander||Byrd steps away from the profession at 65 years old and with 805 wins. He cannot and will not be truly replaced at that school. His replacement, though, is the player/coach he was closest with of anyone. Alexander left Lipscomb -- which is in the same city as Belmont -- to coach Stetson, then went to LU, and now returns to his alma mater. He'll keep Byrd's vision in tact, though Belmont assistant Brian Ayers easily could have done the same.|
|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.|
|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. Siena is set up for success with Jalen Pickett, an NBA prospect, back at point next season.|
|Ron Hunter||Rob Lanier||This is a good job in that league. Atlanta-based. Lanier used Tennessee's success the past two seasons to land this job. His coaching work and recruiting style are said to be a nice fit with GSU, which has 20-win-season expectations at this point.|
|Jim Fox||Dustin Kerns||Fox lasted five years with the Appalachian State 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. Kerns, a Mike Young (Wofford) disciple, is a solid hire.|
|T.J. Otzelberger||Eric Henderson||We're seeing an uptick in internal promotions this season in college hoops. Henderson will stay behind and take the reigns for SDSU, which should still be the best team in the Summit League next season.|
|Bob Hoffman||Greg Gary||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. Gary gets the gig, which will be his second opportunity as a head coach. He previously coached at The Centenary when it was a Division I program. Gary was an assistant at Purdue for the past eight seasons.|
|Joe Callero||John Smith||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. Smith has been awarded the job after spending recent seasons as the top assistant at Cal State Fullerton. |
|Matt Matheny||Mike Schrage||Matheny is out after a decade and no NCAA Tournament appearances with the Elon Phoenix. He was given a lot of slack, but a change was overdue. Schrage comes over after serving as an assistant at Butler and Ohio State for Chris Holtmann. He also happens to be a big Pearl Jam fan.|
|Mike Young||Jay McCauley||There was some speculation that McCauley might not get the succession plan to Young given he was only on staff two years. But Wofford's athletic director is putting trust in the young coach, who will now inherit a program coming off its best season in school history.|
|Sydney Johnson||Jay Young||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. Fairfield was turned down by a few candidates before bringing on Young, who has patiently waited for his chance in the northeastern for a long time. This can work.|
|Brian Fish||Danny Sprinkle||The addition of Sprinkle means that college basketball now has a Sprinkle and a Tinkle -- Wayne, at Oregon State -- in the college coaching ranks. Sprinkle was previously a star player for the program in the mid-1990s.|
|Corey Williams||Donnie Jones||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. Former UCF coach Donnie Jones will head back to Florida and try to bring optimism to a program that's been bad for decades. |
|Jeff Boals||Geno Ford||Boals left Stony Brook after three seasons in Long Island, heading back to Ohio. This is a tough but promising job in the America East. Geno Ford was upgraded from within. This will be his third head-coaching gig. Ford previously ran Kent State and Bradley.|
|Tony Shaver||Dane Fischer||William & Mary , which has never made the NCAA Tournament, parted ways with Shaver after 16 seasons. Fischer comes over after being the lead assistant at George Mason. The thirtysomething coach will have his hands full: William & Mary's program has been completely wiped out by transfers because of this decision. The Tribe might need three years to recover.|
|Chris Casey||Patrick Beilein||Casey lasted six seasons at Niagara, 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 coached at Le Moyne in recent years, makes his arrival in D-I.|
|Phil Cunningham||Scott Cross||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. Cross, former UT Arlington, gets a fresh start in a league he spent more than a decade in (Sun Belt) and averaged double digit wins in conference play.|
|Mark Pope||Mark Madsen||The Mad Dog is coming to the WAC. Madsen got a look at BYU, and now will get his college coaching debut at Utah Valley. The number of former NBA players coaching college programs seems like it's never been higher.|
|Kareem Richardson||Billy Donlon||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.) Billy Donlon, former coach at Wright State who spent the past few seasons as an assistant in the Big Ten, got a great deal and could be just what this school needs.|
|Bill Evans||Ryan Looney||Idaho State cut ties with Evans, who was there seven years. The Bengals went 11-19 last season. The program is aching for a return to the NCAAs, but doing so in the Big Sky has not come easy. ISU last made the Dance in 1987. Looney won out in light of taking D-II Point Loma Nazarene to the NCAA title game and coaching Daulton Hommes to National Player of the Year.|
|Dustin Kerns||Quinton Ferrell||The Presbyterian Blue Hose lost Kerns to App. State, and now Ferrell, an alum, is just the third coach in Presby's relatively young (12-year) history of being a Division I program. Tough job, but the turnaround can continue.|
|Jon Harris||Brian Barone||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 Barone was upgraded to interim status; he's reportedly set to lead the program for next season.|
|Steve Payne||John Pelphrey||Payne held a 118-134 in eight seasons with the Tennessee Tech 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. Pelphrey, a former head coach at Arkansas, who spent the past few seasons on staff at Alabama, is a strong hire. |
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