Monday, March 16, 2015

Crimson Coaching Candidates

There are few things I find as exciting as a good coaching search.  The renewed hope, the baseless rumors, tracking of airplanes, reading between the lines, the battles of the "sources," the different factions that develop within the power structure, we're all in for a stressful but exciting and entertaining next few weeks or so.

I wanted to list some candidates and give my thoughts on all the names that I've seen mentioned here or elsewhere, but first I'd like to talk about some qualities that I believe are important for the new coach.

First, it should go without saying, but I want someone who will represent the University in a first class manner.  This was Coach Grant's strong suit, and this isn't about trading that for wins.  We can win with class.  Second, he needs to have a lot "up side."  If we can't conceivably picture the guy taking us to a final four at some point, I don't want him.  Familiarity with the region and experience recruiting the south are a plus, but I would also be open to a great recruiter with connections to a more fertile prospect base.  Finally, I want someone who understands the importance of being an ambassador to the program and actively marketing it to the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham communities.  

Without further ado, here's the list:

1. Tom Izzo- I've actually heard his name mentioned again.  Can we please stop this silliness?  Tom Izzo, nor anybody else of his ilk, is ever going to coach Alabama.

2. Brad Stevens- Sure, make the call, but he's not leaving the Celtics.  They are rebuilding, they've got a million lottery picks coming up, he's getting paid, and is not on the hot seat by any stretch of the imagination.  

3. Larry Eustachy- He's at the top of my list, and I know Bobbyjack agrees.  He's won at Iowa State, Southern Miss, and now Colorado State, so he's proven he can win in power conferences.  His "baggage" is not of the NCAA variety, but he was busted partying with coeds after away games a decade ago.  By all accounts he's cleaned up his act.  His time at Southern Miss should help him recruit this area.

4. Tom Crean- Currently rumored to be the front-runner, but I'm not sure how much stock I would put into that.  He's still coaching at Indiana, who is in the NCAA tournament, but the fans there have extremely high expectations and are getting restless with only a 10 seed this year after missing the post season last season.  He runs a more up-tempo style that may be a better fit here than in Indiana.  He took Marquette to a final Four.  He inherited a mess at IU, but after 3 bad seasons took them back to back sweet 16s and won the Big 10 in 2012-13.  My only concern would be his ability to recruit the south or pull some top midwestern prospects down here.  UPDATE:  He's obviously not the front runner, all indications are that we are going all-in for Marshall.

5. Ben Howland- The most accomplished of the somewhat realistic candidates, with two final fours at UCLA, he's proven he can win big.  He's been out of coaching for a while, and I think he would be available.  I'm not opposed to giving him a second chance, but there's a lot of NCAA baggage there not to mention the unflattering SI article about how he lost control in Westwood.  He has the potential to be a great coach, but I'm not sure he would be a great fit here.  He has no real connections to the south and his style of play is somewhat slow and methodical.  UPDATE:  Scratch him from the list, he went to $tate.  No surprise they would take a chance on a guy with NCAA baggage and losing control of the program, blatant cheating is really their only hope.  

6. Gregg Marshall- He is probably the hottest coach out there right now of the semi-realistic choices.  It's been reported that he's at the top of our list and we are going strong for him. He knows the south from his time at Winthrop, and has been very successful at Wichita State, with an undefeated regular season and final four appearance.   This would be a very good hire, but I'm not quite ready to label him a "can't miss."  Despite the level of sustained success, there's always the question of being able to make the jump from a "mid major."  Yes, Wichita State is a great program, but they're still in a mid-major conference.  Some may question if he can recruit at the necessary level in the SEC or if his  system will translate.  I would be willing to take the risk if we can get him.

7. Archie Miller- Another up and coming coach from a mid-major who had a good run with Dayton last year and has them in the play-in game this year.  I sort of worry about coaches from historically good mid-majors like Dayton, VCU, Murray State, etc, as they often have some built-in advantages that puts their coaches in a good position to win.  We would likely get a home and home series with Arizona since his brother Sean coaches there.  UPDATE:  He signed a contract extension with Dayton through 2022.  I'm not sure what the buyout is, but it seems unlikely he would make a move at this point.  

8. Brad Underwood- He is 61-7 in two seasons at Stephen F. Austin.  I really like their team and think they have a chance to make some noise this year as well.  Impressive record at a difficult place, but only 2 years head coaching experience at a mid major.  Still, I'm intrigued by him.

9. Shaka Smart- He has taken VCU to the next level after Grant left, but he inherited a good program and still hasn't won a conference championship.  His "havoc" style is fun to watch, but I'm hesitant to go to the VCU well again.  

10. Steve Prohm- Impressive record at Murray State and an Alabama alum.  He 102-27 in four years at Murray State, and rumor is he turned down the Mississippi State job last year in hopes of landing the UA job.  I have no doubt he would market the program aggressively.  He only has one NCAA tournament appearance with the Racers though.  From what I've seen, he plays a more up-tempo style, but his team's lack of defense might be hard to take.  

11.  Avery Johnson- Former NBA Coach, that and being from New Orleans I would think would give him a leg up on recruiting.  On the other hand, he has no prior college coaching experience, and I have no idea if he would even be open to the idea of coaching in college.  

12. Rich Pitino- He's way down on my list.  If his last name were Smith, I don't think we would be talking about him.  He's only 32, and won the NIT at Minnesota, but that's about it.  On the plus side, we would get a home and home with Louisville.

13. Jerod Haase- I really like what he's doing at UAB, but I think he needs more time to prove himself.  In any event, this would be politically untenable hire at this time.  

14. Eric Musselman- This is poster MSmilie's guy.  He's the top assistant at LSU, and many believe is largely responsible for their talent.  I'm not quite as high on him, as I would prefer someone with college head coaching experience.  He does have NBA coaching experience, but college is a completely different ball game.  

15. Bobby Hurley- He's 42-19 in two seasons at Buffalo and has them dancing.  Probably needs more time, but has great potential.  I mainly have him down this low because he played for Duke, and I hate Duke.

16. Tim Floyd- NO! NO! NO! HELL NO!.  He's one of the most over-rated coaches out there.  In 21 seasons he's made it to the sweet 16 twice, and never beyond that.  He definitely has a ceiling, and he also comes with NCAA baggage.  It's bad enough I had to put up with this clown for 4 years as a Chicago Bulls fan.  Yes, I know the Bulls were terrible during those years, but they weren't THAT bad.  No NBA team should start 4-22 or whatever he was when he got fired, coming off his previous 15, and 17 win seasons.  The players hated him, he butted heads with management, it was an unmitigated shit-show.  

17. Mike White-Good record but no NCAA appearances at La Tech.  Plays an up-tempo fun to watch style, but I don't think he's ready for the big time.  I watched them against UAB in the C-USA semi-finals.  I was impressed that they were able to come back from 14 down in a hostile environment to force overtime, but they looked lost defensively at times.  I also noticed a lot of confusion on the bench, he would send one player in only to grab them before they got to the scorer's table and send someone else in.  

18. Phillip Pearson- He did well when he was our interim coach, the team actually improved after Gottfried was let go.  He's a good recruiter, and is a big part of the reason UGA is having some success.  I'm surprised he hasn't got a mid-major job somewhere yet, but I think he needs some more head coaching experience before taking on a job like this.  

19. Seth Greenberg- Got fired for being a perennial bubble team at Virginia Tech.  I just don't see a lot of upside here.  Pass.

20.  John Brannen- I don't think there's much chance we offer him, unless we win the NIT AND strike out with most everybody else.  He had a successful debut as head coach, and knows the players and current recruits and prospects.  Honestly, if we have to below number 12 or so on this list, I would be okay with letting him be interim coach for next season.  If we make a good run in the NIT, it could open up some doors for him at some smaller schools.

21. T.R. Dunn- Former Alabama player and career NBA assistant.  He's a great defensive mind, but very limited experience as a head coach and has not been in the college game in over 10 years.  His only head coaching experience came in the WNBA when he went 8-24 with the Charlotte Sting.  This would be an extraordinarily lazy and disappointing hire, as much as I like TR Dunn.  

22.  Rick $tansbury-  Classless sleazeball who is rumored to be interested in the job.  He's a good "recruiter" who underachieves with the talent he buys.  If we hire that prick to coach our basketball team, you will no longer see me post on this blog, because that is the day I will cease being an Alabama basketball fan.  I will sell my season tickets and purchase equivalent seats at Bartow arena until he is gone.


CTider said...

Go hard after Marshall and Miller. After that, the second tier would be Underwood, Prohm, White, and Hurley. I'm not too high on Pitino. Like you said, if his last name was Smith, would he be on anybody's list?

RichTide said...

From source inside UA Ath Dept: A BOT member is floating to several big boosters the possibility of Tom Izzo. He and Saban have talked for years about coaching at the same school and Saban isn't going back to MSU. Izzo hears Saban talk about Southern living, warm winters, house by the lake and Izzo is willing to listen after the season. Type in EZ007 in Flight Aware to track one donor rumored to back up the bank truck.

RichTide said...

I had to do hit on all the exciting elements of DJC's post. Too big a softball.

The next few weeks will almost be as exciting as being in the Big Dance.

Drifter said...

Keep us posted.

needtoknow said...

It will be the shock of my life if this is true. He would have to be miserable at Michigan State.

Alias said...

DJC, you misspelled "$tan$field!" ;-)

Do people really think Izzo would come to Alabama or that we could afford to hire him along with paying the buyouts on both his and Anthony Grant's existing contracts?

I too hate Duke, but I like the idea of hiring Bobby Hurley. A friend of mine here in Mobile has been pushing Mike White for years. This friend has decades of coaching and recruiting experience. I have none. I'm prone to trust his judgment.

Will the University take the approach it took when Mal Moore hired Nick Saban? Mal repeatedly told people, "We could not afford NOT to hire Nick Saban!" Izzo would be our man if they take that approach. What other candidate in the upper price range would be a "can't miss" hire?

I'm guessing we go through 3 or 4 top named guys and the University decides they cannot afford to hire them along with the Grant and new coach buy out costs. That will leave us with Hurley, Pearson, Mike White and Steve Prohm. We will hire Pearson or Prohm because they are inside our price range. If things work out, great! If things don't work out, we will be able to fire him and shoot for a home run with the next hire.

I honestly don't know that Pearson or Prohm would be any less of a risk hire than the higher profile names you and others have mentioned.

Msmilie said...

While we all have our favorites, my gut feeling is that UA will go with the soft hire in someone like Prohm or White or go with someone like a Tom Crean (if Indiana bows out of the tournament early, I expect Crean becomes a frontrunner for the job). I have zero confidence in these cats to land a guy like Izzo.

DJC said...

Izzo, Few, Coach K, Roy Williams, etc are not in the discussion. It's not just a matter of us not being able to "land" them, they are unavailable.

citadeltidefan said...

I hope your right about Izzo. But I have a hard time believing its not a pipe dream. The guy is 60 years old why would he leave a place he's been all his life at that age? I don't mean to question your source I just have a hard time believing that he and Saban are such good friends that he would be willing to leave a place he's been his whole life at age 60 just to be together and enjoy southern weather and living.

Msmilie said...

No argument here. I was responding to the rumor below about a BOT member floating Izzo.

bobbyjack said...

Sounding like Crean might be the guy. And it seems like this courtship has been going on longer than a few days.
I think he'd do well here.

needtoknow said...

Yes I'm seeing his name mentioned more frequently.

finebammer said...

tom izzo: please, stop the stupid. izzo comes to Alabama, i'll kiss happy's ass and give him 30 minutes to draw a crowd. (then party like a mofo)

gregg marshall: he has another tourney run, we ain't gonna touch him.

steve prohm: who has he beat?? (just askin')

ben howland: can't get past that SI column. i'll bet Battle won't either.

avery johnson: if you don't ask, you don't know.

haase??? really?? ain't hiring nobody away from alabama/birmingham. (how's the football team doin'?)

it's my sense they'll make a run at prohm. why? low hanging fruit.

finebammer said...

the sky is full of balloons:

"To win it back, to reignite the program's pilot light, Battle has a plan. According to people close to the program, it's an ambitious plan.

It's go big or go home.

Find a coach who's won and won big, a coach who's proven himself over time, a coach whose name will resonate with casual fans as well as roundball junkies. Don't let the naysayers tell you this coach is out of your league or your price range or that coach wants no part of a basketball program at a football school."


(disclaimer: this is Scarbinsky. FWIW)

RichTide said...

um...y'all did see my post immediately after right? poking fun at DJC's opening lines

RichTide said...

Can't believe y'all didn't read the immediate post after my first one. was totally pulling DJC's leg from his opening lines about secret sources, tracking airplanes and baseless rumors...

RichTide said...

If we hire Pearson, I'm boycotting bball. Have too much information from the Gottfried regime. Can't support him.

2FromDCorner said...

I noticed you left Ex Alabama,NBA player and now Houston Rockets asst coach TR Dunn off that list. Don't forget he was an asst coach also at Alabama at one time.

Bigbad25 said...

Mike White has not been to the tournament because of the conference he plays in.....They have won 99 games since he took over 4 years ago that an average of 24-25 wins a season. Granted they do not play the toughest schedule but to keep winning like that at any level is impressive.

DJC said...

I'll add him, but he's not a realistic option, and frankly would be a horrible hire.

2FromDCorner said...

Your reasons for the terms "horrible hire"??

Andy M said...

Are you related to TR?? That's what it seems like....All due respect, but come on man....We are talking about spending $4m per year on a coach. We are trying to beat Kentucky.

2FromDCorner said...

Don't have to be related to see everyone get a fair chance. Colleges are always trying to get someone else's big-name coach. Remember someone believed in Nick Saban and give him a chance which how he because the coach that he is today. Who said pay him $4m per year, Pay him what he is worth and let him earn the $4m. You act like you can just push a button or throw enough money at it and we will win a championship. Awake from that dream please...............

Jeff Schulte said...

NC State back in the Sweet 16 -2x in 4 years. What has Bama done since Gottfried left? And you can't blame the last six years on him either. Trevor Lacey was smart. I read all these blog posts when you were kissing AG's behind because "anything was better than CMG." You got what you wanted and it was mediocrity. Any of these top tier coaches you guys are talking about would be crazy to take the Bama job. We will see I guess.

DJC said...

Honest question. If he had the exact same resume but graduated from Arizona State would he be on any body's list? This inbreeding mentality has bit us in the ass more than once.

2FromDCorner said...

Again you side-stepped my main point which was that he deserves a chance! That has been my point the whole time, give the man a chance and if he does'nt measure up or if you decide to go in a another direction, That's okay.