Hirings and firings: 2015 college basketball coaching changes
Which coaches have been fired, which jobs are opening up, and which coaches are being looked at as possible replacements? We've got everything you need to know about the 2015 college basketball coaching carousel.
Which coaches have been fired, which jobs are opening up, and which coaches are being looked at as possible replacements? We've got everything you need to know about 2015 coaching hirings and firings.
Out: Fred Hoiberg. The five-year coach fulfilled his dream of coaching at the highest level when he was brought in by the Chicago Bulls at the start of June. Hoiberg was a success beyond anyone's expectation while at ISU. A beloved figure and former player, he went to four NCAA Tournaments in five seasons there and changed the way coaches recruited -- by bringing in myriad transfers and finding success in a new way.
In: Steve Prohm. The Murray State coach was announced as Hoiberg's successor on June 8. Prohm has four years as a head coach to his name. He reached the 2011 NCAA Tournament, his first season at the helm, behind a 31-2 record and future NBA point guard Isaiah Canaan. Prohm went 104-29 while at Murray State, a school that's become a little man's Xavier, cranking out quality coaches that move on to bigger jobs every four to six seasons.
Out: Billy Donovan. The best coach in school history, Donovan decided to take his talents to the NBA after winning two national championships and 467 games at Florida. He moves on to coach the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team replete with two of the five best players in the world at basketball and legitimate title hopes. However, for the purposes of college basketball, the question shifts to just how strong this job is. Undoubtedly, it's a good one with high level assets and fertile recruiting ground in Florida. But the SEC is getting stronger by the day, the administration will have extremely high expectations, and following a legend is never easy. The Gators will get someone good, but don't be surprised if someone turns this down.
In: Michael White. The former Mississippi point guard has been the coach at Louisiana Tech for the last four seasons, winning over 100 games and three regular season championships (one in the WAC, two in Conference USA). However, he's never reached the NCAA Tournament, as the Bulldogs crashed out of the conference tournament each time. Still, White is regarded in coaching circles as a rising star, and also has strong recruiting ties to the area from his time in Ruston. His high-pressure defense and uptempo offense should fit very well at Florida, and this should be a terrific hire.
Out: Michael White. White had been tremendously successful at Tech, parlaying his 100-plus wins in four seasons into the Florida job after Billy Donovan left for the NBA. Ultimately, the school will be disappointed to not make a return to the NCAA Tournament in White's time, but he has turned around a program that had not won a conference championship since the late 1990s and has not made an NCAA Tournament since 1991. Who could they turn to in White's absence? Assistant coach Dusty May has a shot to be promoted -- and that would be a solid choice -- but the school will be using a search firm to go out and try to find a replacement.
In: Eric Konkol. Konkol has spent the bulk of his career working alongside Jim Larranaga -- first at George Mason, then at Miami. The Wisconsin-Eau Claire graduate will replace Michael White, who left to become Florida's coach after Billy Donovan left for the Oklahoma City Thunder and will inherit a team which has won three consecutive Conference USA titles.
Out: Will Wade. The Mocs got caught up in the coaching carousel this season, losing Wade after two successful years in charge. Wade returned to VCU after taking the Chattanooga job following a successful stint as assistant under Shaka Smart from 2009-2013. At 32, Wade was one of the youngest coaches in America, but he won 40 games in two seasons, finishing second in the SoCon in each go around. He's considered one of the rising stars of the coaching profession on the mid-major level, and he'll be missed by the Mocs.
In: Matt McCall. McCall has been an assistant under Billy Donovan at Florida for four years, and prior to that he was at Florida Atlantic for three. He'll be another one of the younger coaches in America at 33-years-old. During his time at Florida, the Gators went to a Final Four and two Elite Eights, so that's pretty good. The Mocs have a shot to be pretty good next season, as they return three of their top four scorers. Maybe McCall gets off to a solid start to his career with help from the previous regime?
Out: Bobby Hurley. Hurley took the job at Arizona State following two seasons in Buffalo. He led the Bulls to a 42-20 record, including their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2015. This job might actually not be that bad right now, and could be ripe for early success. The team will only lose two seniors off of its tournament team, and returns MAC player of the year Justin Moss. Not a bad start. The question will be whether or not the success is sustainable, as that was the first NCAA Tournament appearance for the school in nearly 25 years as a Division I school.
In: Nate Oats. Oats was an assistant under Hurley for each of the two years he was there, and has been instrumental in the success of the program. He was the person responsible for bringing Moss to the Bulls, and is known as a strong recruiter in the midwest. That likely extends back to his 11-year run as a high school coach in Detroit, where he went 222-52 at Romulus. It seems like continuity is a pretty smart plan for this program given its success, so Oats should at least succeed early on.
Out: Shaka Smart. Well, this one is going to be tough to replace. Smart was incredibly successful in leading the Rams to five straight NCAA Tournament berths, including a Final Four. His Havoc style of play became synonymous with the Rams, to the point where the university became something of a household name while he was in charge. He'll move on to bigger (and greener) pastures now in Texas, where he'll be under a bit tougher of a microscope to perform. Still, it seems unlikely the school will forget his contributions to the basketball program and athletic department any time soon.
In: Will Wade. Wade is a former assistant under Smart and was the coach at Chattanooga the past two years. He led the Mocs to 40 wins in two years, and two straight second-place finishes in the SoCon. He's considered one of the brightest young minds in coaching, and was considered an outside contender for Tennessee before Rick Barnes took it. This is an excellent hire, and one that should keep the Rams' continuity intact.
Out: Rick Barnes. Well, this is certainly the big one that we've been waiting for. Barnes was obviously successful during his time at Texas, as he was there for 17 years and now has over 600 career wins. However, the postseason success was just never quite enough, and there seem to be quite a few candidates out there that could bring it. The pool of possible replacements is just about the entire college basketball coaching world, save for about 10 guys that are already set at blue-blood schools. This is, at worst, a top-10 job in the country for coaches, given the recruiting within the state of Texas and the diminished expectations surrounding the program due to the university's obsession with football. Guys like Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall, Larry Krystkowiak, Chris Mack and others could turn into candidates here, and would likely all be successful. However, the Longhorns may end up trying to make a splashy hire, as athletic director Steve Patterson is genuinely exhausting all avenues -- including the NBA, apparently -- before turning back to those guys.
In: Shaka Smart. After looking into high-end coaches like Tony Bennett and Billy Donovan, the Longhorns went with the 38-year-old VCU coach. Smart led the Rams to the NCAA Tournament five consecutive seasons and produced a record of 163-56 in his time there. The question now shifts to whether or not Smart will continue to run his "Havoc" system at Texas, or if he'll play somewhat more traditional, uptempo basketball. It's something of a home run swing of a hire. It'll be interesting to see if Smart can replicate his small school success at Texas, where the job responsibilities tend to stretch beyond simply what's happening on the court.
Out: Chris Jans. Jans was fired after one year for "public conduct [that] failed to meet his obligations as a head coach and the expectations that BGSU Athletics has for its coaches." And that's especially rough for the university after Jans had an extremely successful first season in charge in going 21-12. The Falcons will have a lot of options, given the sheer amount of candidates in the midwest. One guy who would fit really well here would be Jeff Boals from Ohio State. He's been a pretty integral part of the Buckeyes' coaching staff under Thad Matta for the past six years, and has been an assistant in the MAC previously at Akron, Marshall and Ohio.
In: Michael Huger. Huger has been an assistant at Miami (FL) for four seasons now under coach Jim Larranaga, who he played for in the early 90s at Bowling Green. He's been with Larranaga since 2007 at George Mason, and was the first candidate to be contacted by his alma mater. At Miami he was the team's defensive coordinator, and he should bring a similar mindset to the Falcons. This seems like a strong hire for the program, and it should continue to build the momentum that it began under Jans this season.
Out: Donnie Tyndall. Tyndall was just hired last season, however NCAA allegations have swirled around his name since November due to improprieties during his time at Southern Miss. He was ultimately given the axe after the NCAA informed Tennessee that he would be charged under their new coach control regulations. The Vols will obviously want someone who can come in and stabilize the program, and it seems like they're heading toward a Rick Barnes hire after the coach parted ways with Texas this offseason. His wife is an alum, and I guess he wouldn't have to get rid of any orange clothing that he has. There is not a dearth of candidates here though if Barnes ends up not going. Louisiana Tech's Michael White turned down the job last time around, and might be more inclined to take it this year. If the Vols wanted to really make a splash, they could look right down the road to Belmont where Rick Byrd has won 600+ games (that's doubtful though). Quite a few other names could work here.
In: Rick Barnes. Barnes decided to take the job in the end, just days after being let go at Texas. And honestly, this is about as good as the Vols could have hoped for. He's won over 600 games in his career, reached a Final Four and gotten to a couple of additional Elite Eights. Plus, you would think think he'll bring some stability to a situation that has become quite a bit unstable in the past six years. This hire also continues to signify a changing of the guard in the SEC, which has become loaded with terrific coaches this offseason. Barnes, Ben Howland, Bruce Pearl last year, possibly a big name at Alabama coming still this year, there's a major emphasis on hoops in the SEC right now, and it'll be interesting to see how far it goes.
Out: Duggar Baucom. Baucom wasn't crazy successful at VMI, but he was crazy fun before leaving to take the job at The Citadel. Using a scheme he devised called the "loot and shot", Baucom's Keydet teams were always among the fastest in the nation tempo-wise, which at least made them notable and sometimes fun to watch. He was at the school for 10 seasons, where he went 151-159. Seems odd for him to leave one Southern Conference team for another, but he was also a finalist for the job at The Citadel last time around before they hired Chuck Driesell. Strange, but it seems he's had his eye on this one for a while. Tough to say what direction VMI will go here.
In: Dan Earl. Earl has been an assistant for 10 years now at both his alma mater Penn State and Navy, where he served as associate head coach under Ed DeChellis. It seems that a total revamping of the play style could be in store at VMI, as Navy's teams with Earl in the fold were always in the bottom third nationally in pace. Tough to really gather though how this one will work out in the long run.
Out: Brian Wardle. Wardle left to take the job at Bradley, a school that is more near to his stomping grounds of Chicago (where he had been an excellent recruiter for the Phoenix). He led the Phoenix to back-to-back 24-win seasons in 2014 and 2015, bowing out in the first round of the NIT each time. At 35, he's one of the younger coaches in America, but he's got a good track record of success to this point and will likely continue to succeed in his new position. Green Bay might look to former IUPUI coach and current Michigan State assistant Dane Fife, as he'd be a pretty strong hire there. Also, longtime Wisconsin assistant Greg Gard was a finalist for the job when Wardle got it in 2010, and could similarly be in the same position this time.
In: Linc Darner. Darner's Florida Southern won the Division II national championship this season with a 36-1 record. He was with the Mocassins since 2006, where he accumulated a 218-73 record and transformed the program into a power on that level by reaching eight straight D-II NCAA Tournaments. He played at Purdue under Gene Keady, and will try to lead the Phoenix back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1996. A hire that still has some questions, but ultimately could really work out.
Out: Dave Paulsen. After an incredibly successful seven seasons that saw him win four regular season Patriot League titles and go to two NCAA Tournaments, Paulsen is departing to become the coach at George Mason. It's a step up for the coach, and it'll be interesting to see where the Bison go from here. This has been the most successful Patriot school in the past decade, and being as close to Philadelphia as it is there are a bevy of candidates that could fit. It's tough to guess what direction they'll look in though, given they've only had to hire one coach in the past two decades, and they went down to Division III Williams to find that man in Paulsen.
In: Nathan Davis. Davis has been a tremendously successful coach on the Division-III level for the past six seasons at his alma mater Randolph-Macon, winning 141 of his 180 games coached and leading his team to a Final Four in 2010. Prior to that reign, he was an assistant at Bucknell under former coach Pat Flannery, so he knows the area well and should be able to recruit the right type of guys to the Patriot League power. This should be a pretty strong hire.
Out: Steve Lavin. Despite leading the Red Storm back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since his initial season back in 2011, Lavin and he university parted ways after contract extension negotiations broke down. It's not a total surprise, but Lavin won 81 games in five seasons at the university (really only four, after he missed the majority of the 2011-12 seasons due to treatment for prostate cancer), so he was actually fairly successful. However, the team will be going through a year of transition next season, and could potentially lose all of their top-six leading minutes getters. There's a very distinct chance this ends up being the most talent-bereft roster in all of the Big East next year, and that does fall on Lavin. Still, I'd have given him another year.
In: Chris Mullin. Despite seemingly having the pick of the litter of terrific northeastern basketball coaches like Dan Hurley, Bobby Hurley and Steve Masiello, the Red Storm administration has decided to roll with a first-time head coach in order to attempt to hit a home run. Mullin is the best player in St. John's history, and is a really good basketball mind that has been plying his trade in NBA front offices since his playing career ended. Still, he has never been out on the recruiting trail and had to sit in a kid's living room and convince him to come to his university. In all honesty, this one could totally go 100 percent in either direction, and hiring a strong coaching staff around him is going to be essential. Could he become the next Fred Hoiberg? Maybe. But he just as easily could be the next Eddie Jordan at his alma mater.
Out: Herb Sendek. Sendek had a 154-138 record in nine years at ASU, with only two NCAA Tournament appearances. The administration was apparently turned off by the way the Sun Devils finished up the season, dropping games to USC and Richmond in two of the final three. Sendek's only 52 and already has over 400 career wins, so it seems likely he'll pop up somewhere else. He's a solid coach that's been to the NCAA Tournament eight times with three different schools. As far as where Arizona State goes from here, CBSSports.com's own Gary Parrish is reporting that the job is Duke assistant Jeff Capel's if he wants it. Capel's considered a terrific recruiter and has taken two teams to the NCAA Tournament as a head man prior to becoming an assistant at his alma mater.
In: Bobby Hurley. After being turned down by Capel for the job, the Sun Devils looked in the direction of another Duke graduate in Hurley. Can Hurley turn around a program that has some solid potential and turn it into a powerhouse nextdoor to Arizona? It'll be tough, but he's about as good a coach as they could have hoped for. Hurley went 42-20 in his two seasons at Buffalo after learning for a couple of years under his younger brother Dan, a terrific candidate for a big job in his own right. And of course, he's the son of high school coaching legend Bob, who has led St. Anthony's to a remarkable 27 state titles and is now a member of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Hurley has coaching in his blood, and it seems Arizona State is betting that it'll show through.
Out: Jeff Neubauer. Neubauer was hired by Fordham, an interesting choice in itself given the high number of solid candidates in the Northeast. But Neuabuer proved his chops for 10 years at Eastern Kentucky, winning 188 games during his time and reaching two NCAA Tournaments. The Colonels lose their top two players this season in Corey Walden and Eric Stutz, but return everyone else to a team that finished second in the OVC.
In: Dan McHale. McHale had been an assistant under Richard Pitino for two years at Minnesota, and before that he was an assistant under Kevin Willard at Seton Hall. McHale has roots in Kentucky, as he graduated from the university in 2001. He'll look to replace the most successful coach in school history in Neubauer, but given his lack of experience it's tough to say how this one will go.
Out: Geno Ford. It hasn't been the best year for Ford. First, an Ohio appeals court upheld a ruling that Ford was in breach of contract when he accepted the role as Bradley coach back in 2011 while he was still the coach at Kent State. Then he scuffled to a 9-24 mark this season with the Braves, including a 3-15 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play. At only 40 years old, my guess is we'll see Ford pop up again somewhere, likely in Ohio where he is a high school legend as the state's third all-time leading scorer. It's unknown what kind of direction the program will go in for a multitude of reasons. To begin, the school has a new athletic director in place. Second, the school is going through a shift in presidency beginning in May, and there is still no replacement in place. This could go a number of different ways.
In: Brian Wardle. Wardle was the coach at Green Bay in the Horizon League, leading the Phoenix to a 95-64 record in his five years as head man at the university. Prior to that, he was an assistant for five years at Green Bay. Wardle is a pretty solid hire for the Braves' program, as he's from the Chicago area and has recruited well within the confines of the city (Keifer Sykes, Alfonzo McKinnie and Greg Mays, among others, were Green Bay starters from Chicago). This is about as strong a hire as the Braves could have been expected to make.
Out: Dickey Nutt. The brother of Houston Nutt, former Mississippi and Arkansas head football coach, Nutt has been a headcoach on the mid-major level for 19 years and has a record of 279-304 with only one NCAA Tournament appearance to show for it. But on the plus side, Nutt led the program out of a period of NCAA sanctions and brought them through a dark period to where the job is no longer as ugly as when he was hired. Still, athletic director Mark Alnutt stressed that there hadn't been enough of a climb in the Ohio Valley Conference standings for his liking, and let Nutt go in order to go in a new direction.
In: Rick Ray. Well this is a familiar face. After being unceremoniously dumped for Mississippi State following his third season with the program in favor of Ben Howland, it didn't take long for Ray to pop up somewhere else. Ray's time at Mississippi State never translated in the win-loss column, but he was responsible for cleaning up what had been a wayward program prior to his hiring. He's a coach that will demand respect at the Ohio Valley Conference school, and it's hard to envision this type of program making a better hire than Ray.
Out: Luther Riley. Riley won 37 games in four years at Alcorn State, which isn't great. It's worth noting though that it's not just him that wasn't successful at the school though, as Alcorn has now had three separate coaches in the past 12 years, and none have been able to crack the KenPom top-300 or have so much as a season within five games of .500. This season, it went 6-26 with a KenPom ranking 346th nationally. So yeah, this isn't exactly what I would call an easy job, and I don't think there's an easy fix here.
In: Montez Robinson. Robinson has been an assistant at Bethune-Cookman for the past four years, prior to which he was at Kennesaw State during their transition from D-II to D-I. He'll be charged with turning around what is one of the tougher jobs in America, so its not exactly an attractive job that had people beating down the door to have a crack. He's as strong a hire as could have been expected.
Out: Rick Ray. Ray was only afforded three years to try to and turn around a program that had some major problems following the "retirement" of Rick Stansbury. And in a lot of ways, he did an excellent job in fixing the off-the-court stuff and making the program better in that way. However, that hadn't shown up yet in the win-loss department, as Ray went 37-60 as coach of the Bulldogs. Still you would have thought the program would have given him some more time unless they had a better option immediately in sight...
In: Ben Howland. And the program did have a better option immediately in sight. The former UCLA and Pittsburgh head coach has been itching to get back into the game, and in the Bulldogs he's found one heck of a resurrection project. He'll be joining what could be rapidly becoming an excellent conference of coaches depending on who the Alabama hire is with John Calipari, Billy Donovan and Bruce Pearl, among others. Howland is 401-206 in his career as a coach with three Final Four appearances at UCLA and two Sweet 16 appearances in four years at Pitt. If anyone can turn around the Bulldogs' program, it's him. This is basically a home run hire.
Out: Tom Pecora. This one was a pretty difficult choice. On one hand, Pecora never won more than 10 games with the Rams and never finished higher than this season's 12th in the Atlantic-10 standings. On the other hand, he had recently brought in a stellar recruiting class last season, and we're already seeing reverberations as the Atlantic-10's freshman of the year Eric Paschall has decided to consider a transfer. Attempting to lure back Paschall will likely be first on the new Rams' coach's agenda. A couple of America East candidates would make sense for me, as Albany's Will Brown has reached the NCAA Tournament each of the last three seasons and has gotten there five times already at only 43 years old. Also, Stony Brook's Steve Pikiell has either won or finished in second in the America East in five of the last six seasons. Either would make sense, as would Robert Morris's Andy Toole. Still, the degree of difficulty at Fordham in the Atlantic-10 is off the charts, so the administration really needs to knock out this hire in order to return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 23 years and the second time in 45 years.
In: Jeff Neubauer. Neubauer has been the coach at Eastern Kentucky for the last 10 seasons, winning 188 games with five 20-win seasons and two NCAA Tournament berths. It's a bit of a strange hire on the surface, but Neubauer played at La Salle so he knows the northeastern area pretty well. His hire comes on the heels of the Rams nearly agreeing with Robert Morris coach Andy Toole before Toole backed out at the last second to stay with the Colonials. Regardless, Neubauer is a sharp guy that comes from the John Beilein tree of coaching, so he defintiely knows his stuff. The question is more just going to revolve around whether or not he can get a stagnant program rolling, as the Fordham job is certainly one of the tougher ones in the country.
Out: Jimmy Lallathin. This program is an absolute train wreck with a complete lack of stability. The next coach will be the Owls' fourth in six years after Lallathin was let go by the athletic department three and a half weeks after the season ended for the Owls. There's not really an indication at this point as to why that was the case. Lallathin, for what it's worth, had actually shown a fair amount of promise after taking over for Lewis Preston in the middle of the 2013-14 season. He led the Owls to their first double-digit win season since 2010 under Tony Ingle. My guess is that there is some other shoe that is going to drop here that explains something a bit more, but it doesn't look great for the Owls right now.
In: Al Skinner. No seriously, that Al Skinner. The former longtime Boston College and Rhode Island coach is now going to take his talents south to Georgia despite having never coached anywhere further south than the state of New York. It's a high-profile hire for a school that could use one, but it's also one that could really backfire depending on the type of assistants he's able to bring in. He'll need guys who know the area well and can pick up the slack for him in recruiting. The jury is out on how this one will go down.
Out: Paul Hewitt. Hewitt was moderately successful in his first two seasons after replacing Jim Larranaga, winning 46 games on a CAA scheudle. However, George Mason moved to the Atlantic-10 two years ago, and has struggled mightily, winning only 20 games combined in the two seasons and finishing no better than 11th place. It's tough to say how preferable this job is for a prospective candidate. The Virginia area is a somewhat fertile recruiting ground, but the Patriots have to battle with Virginia, VCU, Richmond, and now even Virginia Tech under Buzz Williams for those players. Plus, they may be punching a bit above their weight in the Atlantic-10 (although as Davidson showed this year, if you have the right coach it's entirely possible to succeed).
In: Dave Paulsen. Paulsen is a three-time coach of the year in the Patriot League at Bucknell, and he could end up being a pretty solid hire here with the Patriots. He went 134-94 in his time with the Bison, reaching the NCAA Tournament twice in seven seasons and winning four regular season titles. Prior to that he was at Williams College in Massachusetts, his alma mater, where he led the Ephs to a Division III title. At the very least, George Mason has hired a successful guy that could really work out.
Out: Bill Grier. Grier was at USD for eight years, accumulating a 117-144 record over that time. He did make one NCAA Tournament appearance in his time there, but it was in his first year when the Toreros won the WCC Tournament. Since then, he made one other postseason appearance, last season. This job is actually a pretty good mid-level one in my opinion, and a guy who succeeds here could leap rather quickly into higher-level job. The obvious candidate is Eric Musselman from LSU. The former Golden State Warriors' coach is currently on Johnny Jones' staff, but is a San Diego alum and has experience coaching basketball at literally every single level. He'd be a solid hire, and he'd fit well within the recent tradition of WCC schools looking for an alum (Mike Dunlap, Marty Wilson).
In: Lamont Smith. Smith does indeed fit well within the WCC tradition of looking for an alum to coach the team, as Smith was a Torero back from 1994-1999. At 39, he'll be the youngest coach in the conference, and he's a first-timer. Previously with New Mexico, he was the associate head coach under Craig Neal. He's known as a defensive coach, and he's also made stops at Arizona State, Saint Louis and Washington, among others.
Out: Steve Shields. Shields is the winningest coach in school history with a record of 192-178. However, he's had losing seasons in three of the last four years after leading the school to its first NCAA Tournament in 21 years. Despite the fact that it might be tough to replace the most successful coach in the school's history, the administration is banking on a change breathing life into a program that could probably use a bit of a switch up.
In: Chris Beard. Beard's had a long 20-year coaching career despite his relative youth at 42. Basically, he's been everywhere. He was an assistant at Texas Tech for a long time under the Knights, as well as a head man in Division II at McMurry State and his most recent stop, Angelo State. He took Angelo State to the D-II Sweet 16 this year, and had a record of 47-15 there in two seasons.
Out: Dave Bezold. Bezold was there for 11 seasons, compiling a 194-133 record with the Norse. However, his team really struggled since making the transition to Division I, going only 33-54 since moving up. Still, there seemed to be some real progress this season, as the Norse went 13-17 overall and actually finished at .500 in the Atlantic Sun. Given that momentum, it's a bit odd that he was shown the door, so I'll be interested to see if there is another shoe to drop here. Given the university's proximity to the city of Cincinnati, maybe taking a run at Larry Davis of UC would be a good idea. Davis was terrific in getting the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament, but he'll be forced to take a back seat to Mick Cronin when he returns next season. If they wanted to go younger, Xavier's Travis Steele also might not be a bad candidate.
In: John Brannen. Brannen had been an assistant under Anthony Grant for all six years that Grant was the head man at Alabama. Before that, he'd been an assistant at VCU, St. Bonaventure, and Eastern Kentucky. He'll take over a program that is still transitioning to Division I this season, but he'll have a decent enough shot to turn them around. This is pretty much as strong a hire as could have been expected for this program.
Out: Alan Major. This one seemed to be inevitable this offseason, as Major has struggled with health issues over the past year that have limited his time on the sidelines. But even before those complications came up, he was on the hot seat for his performance on the job. Major will finish his tenure at Charlotte with a 67-70 record overall and an abysmal 22-43 mark in conference. My guess is that the former Ohio State assistant under Thad Matta will have a landing spot there when he decides to get back into coaching. As far as Charlotte is concerned, Gary Parrish noted on the Eye on College Basketball Podcast to look out for Chattanooga's Will Wade on this one. Wade is a 32-year-old former VCU assistant that has led the Mocs to a 40-25 mark in two seasons on the job.
In: Mark Price. No seriously, that Mark Price. Price was an assistant with the Charlotte Hornets during the 2014-15 season, his second as a true bench assistant after years of being on staffs as a shooting coach. At Charlotte, he's been responsible for working with the guards, especially Kemba Walker. Price was a college coach all the way back in 1999-2000 with his alma mater Georgia Tech. There's literally no way to know how this is going to work out for all parties involved simply because there's past work to base his success on. Also, there's the specter of the Georgia Tech job opening soon if Brian Gregory doesn't turn things around in a major way. It's not totally out-of-the-blue, but it's certainly still a bit a surprise.
Out: Anthony Grant. Grant only made the NCAA Tournament once in his four years with the Crimson Tide after coming over from VCU, where he was the coach before Shaka Smart. His record was a 117-85, and he did have a winning conference record, but ultimately it just wasn't quite enough. The program wasn't really showing any positive signs of momentum, and the recruiting class this year is shaping up to be relatively weak despite losing three seniors. All eyes will now turn to Murray State's Steve Prohm, who will likely be the frontrunner for this job. He's an Alabama grad that is coming off of yet another successful season with the Racers, this time going 27-5 before being left at home from the Big Dance. His record in four years at Murray is 102-29, and I just don't see how the Crimson Tide would be able to lure a stronger candidate than this right now.
In: Avery Johnson. They did indeed lure a more attractive candidate in Johnson, the former NBA coach of the year and NBA finalist with the Dallas Mavericks. Typically, these NBA hires go one of two ways. They flame out quickly after not realizing the differing responsibilities of the college job vs. the NBA job, or they are wildly successful. Johnson already has a leg up on becoming one of those latter examples, as he's very familiar with the AAU scene in the southwest due to his son Avery Jr. If he can leverage some of his relationships there into luring legitimate recruits, then this should end up being a successful hire. If not, the Crimson Tide could be back to square one in five years. Regardless, it's the type of gutsy hire that you'd hope a program like this would make.
Out: Oliver Purnell. Purnell resigned from his position as DePaul's head coach after the Blue Demons' season ended. Purnell spent five seasons in Chicago trying to rebuild this program, and it just never happened. He'll leave with a 54-105 record at DePaul, having never finished higher than the seventh-place he did this year. This was actually his best season in Chicago, with a 12-20 record. This resignation also continues one of the most remarkable streaks in all of sports: Purnell, in his 27 consecutive years as a head coach at five different schools, has never been fired. This actually may be a better job than it gets credit for. The Blue Demons have some pretty solid talent on the roster already, and also have a pretty solid recruiting class coming in. Plus, they have a new arena coming in. If the administration makes the right hire, this could really be a decent job. The key here will be an excellent recruiter that can be aggressive within the city of Chicago.
In: Dave Leitao. Well, this was certainly a surprise. After flirting with some of the better up-and-coming coaches in the country (and apparently being denied by Bryce Drew and Bobby Hurley), the Blue Demons have decided on the blast from the past strategy and gone for the most successful coach in their recent history in Leitao. Leitao went to the NCAA Tournament once and the NIT twice in three seasons before bolting to Virginia and having one good season in four before being replaced by Tony Bennett. Some are pretty down on this hire, but ultimately the jury is still out here. Leitao very well may be able to replicate the success of his first go-around, as he's a good coach, but DePaul is an awfully tough gig until they get a new arena.
Out: Murry Bartow. Bartow has been a head man for 18 years, spending the first six at UAB and the next 12 at ETSU. The son of the legendary Gene Bartow (winner of 627 career games), Murry's firing came as something of a shock. He led the Buccaneers to the NCAA Tournament three times, to five 20-win seasons, and had only two losing seasons in his tenure. That's typically not the resume of a guy that gets fired in a smaller league, even though expectations were a bit higher than this year's 16-14 final mark. It's going to be tough for the athletic department to find a guy better than Bartow.
In: Steve Forbes. Forbes was an assistant at Wichita State under Gregg Marshall prior to taking the job at ETSU. He's been around the block a bit as the former head coach at Northwest Florida State prior to his successful run at Wichita. The connection here is that he was an assistant under Bruce Pearl at Tennessee for five seasons, so he knows the area well and shouldn't be new to recruiting there. This one seems like a strong hire for the program.
Out: David Carter. Carter had been in Reno for the last 16 seasons, the first 10 of which had been as an assistant under Mark Fox and Trent Johnson — both of whom have moved on to greener pastures. However, Carter could not replicate the success of his predecessors in his six seasons. He was able to make the NIT in two of his first three seasons with the program, but was thoroughly unsuccessful in the three following years following Nevada's move to the Mountain West Conference, including a 9-22 overall mark this season (5-13 in league). Carter will finish his tenure in Reno with a 98-97 mark as a head coach, but a 36-58 one over the past three seasons. This is a program that is teetering on the brink of becoming nationally irrelevant after a near-decade of success that included four NCAA Tournament appearances and six NBA Draft picks. A strong hire here is absolutely essential to the well-being of Nevada hoops.
In: Eric Musselman. Musselman, for a guy that's only 50 years old, has really been around the block. He was the head man for both the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings in the NBA, an NBA D-League coach, the coach for the Venezuelan national team, and has been an assistant at both Arizona State and LSU in each of the past two seasons. This is something he'd been gearing up for each of the past two seasons, and he's considered a terrific teacher of basketball. It'll be interesting to see if he can get recruits into Reno. If he does, this should be a very successful hire.
Out: Howard Moore. Moore was let go for a lack of on-court success, according to athletic director Jim Schmidt. And honestly, it's not a huge surprise. UIC never really showed any consistent modicum of success under Moore, going 49-111 in his five seasons at the helm with only one winning season (2012-13). The Flames went 10-24 this year with an upperclassman-laden roster, and didn't show a ton of progress following the winning year two seasons ago. One other thing worth mentioning: the Flames do have three top-400 recruits coming in next season according to 247Sports. That's an impressive haul for a school the size of UIC, and it'll be interesting to see if they stick around with the switch.
In: Steve McClain. McClain is the former head man at Wyoming, where he compiled a 157-115 record back in the early-to-mid-2000s. Immediately prior to being hired, McClain was an assistant under Tom Crean at Indiana. He's known as a guy who brings enthusiasm and exuberance onto the floor, so that should do well to energize a collegiate hoop scene in Chicago that is in desperate need of it.
Out: Chuck Driesell. The son of legendary coach Lefty Driesell, Chuck struggled to establish himself at The Citadel. He had a record of 42-113 in five seasons, and only won one-quarter of his conference games in the SoCon. He never finished higher than 5th in his division in the split-league, and ended his run with an 11-19 season that saw the Bulldogs finish 7th overall in the league with the ignominious honor of having the worst defense in the entire country, according to KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency metric. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the administration go in that direction, given that the school has been in the bottom-six teams nationally in that metric for each of the past three seasons.
In: Duggar Baucom. Well, at the very least Citadel hoops just got fun to watch. Baucom comes from VMI, where his teams have traditionally been among the most uptempo teams in the coutnry. This season, the Keydets averaged 76.5 possessions per game compared to the national average of 64.8. That led the nation by two full possessions, which is quite a bit. While Baucom's teams have a tendency to get into a lot of shootouts in his "loot and shoot" scheme, it hasn't exactly translated to great records as he went 151-159 in 10 years at VMI. I don't hate the hire though despite that record, as it'll at least bring some excitement to a program that has only made one postseason appearance in 115 years.
Out: Jerome Allen. Allen was something of a Penn and Ivy League legend, winning Ivy League Player of the Year in both 1992 and 1993 for the Quakers, even getting drafted by the Pacers in 1995. However, his coaching career hasn't quite gotten on track yet, as Penn only finished higher than fourth once in his five-plus years in charge after Glen Miller's firing. The Quakers also didn't reach double-digit wins in four out of Allen's six years. It'll be interesting to see where Penn goes on this one. There are quite a few candidates around the northeast that have been successful recently, but will they go for someone with a Penn background given what happened with Miller and Allen?
In: Steve Donahue. He seems to have been the Quakers first choice hire. Prior to leaving for the Boston College job, Donahue coached at Cornell for 10 seasons with a record of 146-138, including first-place finishes in each of his last three seasons and a Sweet 16 appearance in the final season, 2010. And before that even, he was a 10-year assistant at the school he takes over at now. Can he turn around the program that Jerome Allen is leaving? It's up for debate. On one hand, he has a proven track record of success in the Ivy. On the other, the Ivy he enters now is a stronger league than it was when he left. Only time will tell on this one.
Out: Lennox Forrester. Forrester helped the program transition from Division-II to Division-I, but unfortunately never had the success necessary to stick around over the long haul. In seven years at the D-I level, the Cougars' record under Forrester was 66-138, with this season's 12 wins being the most he could muster. The Cougars need someone who can bring the program momentum that it desperately needs. The new coach will also be coming into something of a barren roster, as four of the Cougars' top five scorers this season have exhausted their eligibility as seniors. It's tough to guess what direction this program will go in.
In: Jon Harris. Harris has been an assistant under Cuonzo Martin for many years at all three of his stops, Missouri State, Tennesssee and California. So he knows the area well, plus he has an added advantage here as an Edwardsville native. Edwardsville is a tough job, but with a good recruiter like Harris it's not really tough to see a circumstance where he turns the program around. A very solid hire by the Cougars' administration.
Out: Dale Layer. Layer led the Flames to an incredible, shocking Big South Tournament championship and NCAA berth in 2013 despite a 15-20 record, but beyond that there wasn't been much to write home about from the six-year coach. He ended this season 8-24 with a 2-16 mark in conference, and he'll finish with an 82-117 record at Liberty, with only one winning season under his belt and only one season with a league finish higher than fifth. This is now the second wash out at a school for Layer, as he was fired in 2007 at Colorado State. There are quite a few excellent coaching candidates in the Virginia area, including UVA assistants Jason Willimon and Ron Sanchez, who the athletic staff could look to in order to replace Layer. Also, another UVA assistant, Ritchie McKay, was the head man at Liberty prior to leaving in 2009 to join his friend Tony Bennett's staff. Any of those three would be a great hire.
In: Ritchie McKay. Another blast from the past, as McKay was the Flames' coach for two years from 2007-09. In fact, despite only being 49 years old, McKay has been a head man at five different schools already, with a record of 204-186. However, this does strike as an odd decision, given that he left Liberty six years ago to become an assistant with Tony Bennett at Virginia. Things change obviously though, and he should succeed there. He knows the area well from his time at both schools, and should be able to recruit.
Out: Dick Hunsaker. Hunsaker has not been fired, but rather is stepping down in order to spend more time with his kids and grandchildren. The former Utah and Ball State head man that was twice an assistant under Rick Majerus is leaving after 13 years at Utah Valley, where he won 198 games overall, including 96 games in Division-I after Utah Valley rose from the ranks of junior college to the highest level. Overall throughout his career, Hunsaker won 211 games on the D-I level, including winning regular season conference championships in six of his 11 seasons. UVU won the WAC's regular season last year, but stumbled to a 11-15 mark this season. They'll be the No. 6 seed in the WAC Tournament this weekend. It's unknown what direction the school will go this time around. However, both Utah (Tommy Connor) and BYU (a bevy of younger coaches) have pretty decent candidates if they want to try to lure someone in-state.
In: Mark Pope. UVU did decide to go in the direction I figured. Pope was an assistant on BYU's staff for the past four seasons, and this will be his first head coaching job. The former Kentucky Wildcat player was in charge of the Cougars defense, which largely struggled this season. However, having sat next to him while covering games, the Cougars defensive struggles were almost certainly not his fault. Pope yells out defensive commands and rotations basically before they happen, and is clearly a sharp guy. This could work well for the Wolverines.
Out: Milan Brown. Brown was at Holy Cross for five seasons, going 69-83 during that time and 40-38 in Patriot League games. Athletic director Nathan Pine said after making the switch that he felt Holy Cross's success wasn't quite adequate enough, making this the right time for a switch. It does come just one season after Brown got the Crusaders to 20 wins and a CIT appearance; however, this year the Crusaders fell back to earth, going 14-16 and finishing tied for sixth in the conference. No indications yet as to where CoHC will look for a replacement, although every single school with an opening in the northeast should be calling Jim Engles from NJIT to try to poach him from the conference-less Highlanders.
In: Bill Carmody. The former longtime Northwestern coach had success at Princeton prior to being hired with the Wildcats. He was a longtime assistant under Pete Carril at Princeton, and obviously runs a Princeton-type offensive system. The biggest thing though that he'll bring is experience in dealing with high-level academic institutions, which is something Holy Cross prides itself on being. This seems like a solid hire on the surface, and should work out well despite the fact that Carmody is 62.
Out: Stew Morrill. Morrill is retiring after a long coaching career that began all the way back in 1974 with Gonzaga. His first head coaching job was with Montana in 1986. He parlayed that job into one with Colorado State, then went to Utah State where he stayed for 17 years. Morrill led the Aggies to 14 consecutive 20-win seasons from 2000-2013, and overall won 620 games in career that included nine NCAA Tournament appearances (although he only went 1-9 in tourney games). Morrill is a legend and will be extremely difficult to replace. Tommy Connor at Utah is a pretty terrific assistant, and he'd be a solid candidate in-state to replace Morrill.
In: Tim Duryea. After apparently trying to convince Herb Sendek to take the spot after he was let go at Arizona, the Aggies have settled on an in-house hire to take over for the departing Morrill. Duryea was an assistant at Utah State for 14 seasons under Morrill, and should give the program some stability following the school icon's departure. It'll be interesting to see how successful he is, as Duryea has no prior head coaching experience.
Out: Benjy Taylor. If there's one decision this offseason that didn't make a whole lot of sense to me, it's that Hawaii decided to let Taylor go. Thrown into an awful circumstance to start the year following Gib Arnold's firing in October and Isaac Fotu's departure, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Warriors fold and struggle in 2014-15. However, that's not what happened at all. In fact, Taylor got the Warriors playing way harder on defense with a high-pressure scheme, and led them to 22 wins on the year. They were just a single win away from the NCAA Tournament after reaaching the Big West championship. A puzzling decision to let him go.
In: Eran Ganot. Now, just because the Warriors made a strange decision in letting Taylor go doesn't mean they didn't go out and get a quality coach to replace him. Ganot is 33-years-old, and began his coaching career at Hawaii back in 2006, where he stayed until 2010. Ganot then took an assistant job at Saint Mary's, where this season he had risen all the way to the level of associate coach under Randy Bennett. This is a good hire, and he should be successful at Hawaii.
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