Friday, March 23, 2007

And The Coaching Carousel Begins in College Basketball ...

Yesterday, Tubby Smith made waves by pulling a pre-emptive move in trading Kentucky for Minnesota ... the university and not the Timberwolves. Like many, I was not shocked by his departure but was by the destination. Frankly, I'm stirred by the names associated with this job -- namely, Flip Saunders of the Detroit Pistons and Chris Lowery of Southern Illinois. Tubby Smith wasn't even on the radar. I'm aware that Minnesota is a basketball state, but this is what I find shocking. Can Smith turn around the Golden Gophers? Early indications are that he'll change it to a degree, signifying that they won't be a doormat in the Big Ten. But, are the Golden Gophers going to be national title contenders? Not by a longshot, and I'll be hard-pressed to find that spending $1.8 million per year on a fading coach is a good business decision.

In other surprising news, Steve Alford has left Iowa, a BCS school, for New Mexico. Was it a realization that with Tubby Smith in the Big Ten, it would mean another high-profile coach to battle against in the recruiting wars? That means he'd be going against Thad Motta, Tom Izzo, Bo Ryan, Kelvin Sampson, Bruce Weber, Matt Painter, and whomever Michigan hires as their head coach. Not to mention, he would have to compete against surging Missouri Valley programs. Rebuilding is no fun when you have that kind of competition. Little does Alford know that the conference he's stepping into is no walk in the park.

Who is the next Kentucky head coach?
The early rumors include Tom Creen of Marquette, Mark Few of Gonzaga, and Billy Gillespie of Texas A&M. Travis Ford of UMass and John Pelphrey of South Alabama are former UK players who have an outside shot at being the next Wildcats head coach.

Here is some speculation on recent coaching vacancies.

Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, Xavier's Sean Miller and West Virginia's John Beilein, and Michigan State assistant Jim Boylen. (source: Yahoo! Sports)

Georgetown assistant Sydney Johnson and Brown's Craig Robinson.
(source: Newark Star-Ledger)

Winthrop's Gregg Marshall, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery, Butler's Todd Lickliter, and Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor and Kent State's Jim Christian. (source: Yahoo! Sports)

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