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In a move expected for quite some time, Georgia fired men's basketball coach Tom Crean on Thursday after four seasons at the helm. The change came less than 24 hours after his Bulldogs' 2021-22 season came to an unceremonious end with an 86-51 loss to Vanderbilt in the first round of the SEC Tournament and on the heels of a 6-26 season for Crean -- his third .500 or worse campaign in four seasons. This immediately opens a power conference job for new athletic director Josh Brooks to fill with his own hand-picked selection after taking over the gig in 2021.

Georgia's SEC membership and resources alone could set it up to potentially go after and land a splashy name to replace Crean, but its standing in the league's hierarchy may add some challenges on that front. It has advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament only once since its 1983 Final Four run, and since 2000, the program has accrued a dreadful 151-221 record in conference play -- tied for the fewest wins among all SEC members in conference play during that stretch. Power conference standing and respectable resources can only take you so far.

Still, UGA should be able to conduct an efficient search and trim to a short list of candidates who either have assistant coaching or head coaching experience -- or both -- now that Crean is officially out. Our short list of candidates for the gig is below.  

Jonas Hayes, Xavier associate head coach: Here's the deal with Hayes: Sources told CBS Sports' Matt Norlander that there are people connected to the school pressuring AD Josh Brooks to hire him, which has been in the works for months. But Brooks, according to Norlander, prefers to hire a sitting head coach. Therein lies the rub. Hayes has a strong resume as the associate head coach at Xavier and ties to the program as both a former player and former assistant. His familiarity with the Bulldogs program and with the Atlanta area, where he was born, all have major appeal.

Dennis Gates, Cleveland State coach: If Brooks opts to target a sitting head coach, Gates may be No. 1 on the list. The 42-year-old Gates has a wealth of coaching experience with stops as an assistant at Florida State, Cal, Northern Illinois and Nevada, and he's been a hit as a head coach at Cleveland State where he's twice won Horizon League Coach of the Year and amassed a 50-39 record in three seasons. The Vikings won't be in the Big Dance this season, but they've won regular season championships in consecutive years for the first time in nearly four decades and emerged as a power in the Horizon under his watch.

Mike Rhoades, VCU coach: Rhoades has a good gig in the A-10 leading an always-consistent VCU program. The Rams have gone dancing twice since he took over in 2017 and could be on their way to another appearance this year. But Georgia is an undeniable step up, and the pay bump alone would likely be substantial. UGA could do worse than Rhoades, who has a 101-51 record with VCU.

Lamont Paris, Chattanooga coach: Paris is the new hotness -- and rightfully so after helping guide Chattanooga this season to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016. It's the culmination of what has been a steady rebuild after he took over the program in 2017. His first two seasons the Mocs went 22-43, but they've not had a losing season since. They're two wins shy of breaking a program-best 29 wins in a season. Paris' experience as an assistant under Bo Ryan and later under Greg Gard are part of a long list of assistant gigs on his resume that include Akron, DePaul and his alma mater, Wooster.