Can you remember a time this late in the summer when there was this
much discussion about college basketball coaching changes? Usually
heading into the summer recruiting period all the talk is about which
players are going to which camps and how well those players are
playing. So, why is there so much buzz this summer about coaches?
Well, it’s pretty obvious. When the head coach at one of the most
prestigious college basketball programs resigns and his likely
successor is the head coach of another prestigious college basketball
program, people are going to talk. Throw in the timeframe and the
importance of having a coach during the summer recruiting period and
you have people buzzing.
Unless you’ve been basking in the warm summer sun too long, you know
by now that Bill Guthridge has resigned as the basketball coach at
the University of North Carolina. You also know that UNC wants
current Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams to be Guthridge’s
successor. You should also know that Williams has formally stated
that he will talk to UNC but he needs some time to think about this
So, where do they go from here?
First for Carolina, they have made the most logical choice for their
next coach. You can count on the fact that Roy Williams has the
blessings of Dean Smith and Bill Guthridge. His selection keeps the
coach at North Carolina in the “Dean Smith Family.” So, what happens
if Williams turns down the good folks at Chapel Hill? You can bet
that the job will go to someone in the “Dean Smith Family.” As long
as Dean’s name is on the building (I haven’t seen a movement to have
it removed), Dean Smith will be involved with who coaches the Tar
Heel Basketball Team.
There’s Eddie Fogler out there at South Carolina. He’s a good coach
but his lack of national success may be a concern for the Tar Heel
faithful. Then there’s Matt Doherty, the up-and-coming coach at Notre
Dame. He’s had success in only one season at Notre Dame and is a
popular figure in North Carolina. He’s a possibility but his
inexperience (just one year) as a head coach could hurt his chances.
Then there are the NBA guys – Larry Brown and George Karl. George
Karl would love this opportunity. As a former player he has stayed
close to the Carolina program and he is aching to get out of the pro
game. Coaching Shawn Kemp and Glenn Robinson will do that to you. He
is definitely a strong contender but the overwhelming favorite would
have to be Larry Brown. Logic would dictate that if Roy Williams
doesn’t take the job then it’s Larry Brown’s job to take. A former
Tar Heel player himself, Brown has coached all over the globe – or so
it seems. He has lead powerful programs at both UCLA and Kansas, as
well as several NBA jobs. His current stint as the Philadelphia
76’ers Head Coach has pitted him against the strong-willed Allen
Iverson and Brown may be looking to get back to the college game
where he has more control. It would be the most logical place for him
to end his coaching career.
Of course, all of that hinges on whether or not Roy Williams doesn’t
take the job. A scenario that seems unlikely. Most betting people
have their money on Roy going back to Chapel Hill (see related
stories: Roy’s Dilemma and Nevada Schools Take A Stand Against NCAA’s
Anti-gambling Bill). Which brings us to..
If Roy goes to Carolina, then who goes to Kansas?
This is a little more complicated than the Carolina decision. That’s
because the Carolina selection will be a former player and/or
assistant to Dean Smith. Kansas’ pool of candidates will not be as
limited. Although you can be sure that if Coach Williams does leave
he will have some say as to whom his successor would be, the list
could reach beyond Williams’ circle of former players and coaches.
The list of possible candidates for the Kansas job is long and
diverse. First there’s Eddie Fogler. Yeah, I know we already talked
about him. He would probably one of the guys that Williams would push
to get the job but for the same reason that we pointed out before he
probably won’t be the new coach at Kansas. What about Larry Brown?
This would be an interesting choice but it’s not likely this would
Now Rick Pitino is someone that Bob Fredrick would definitely love to
have in Lawrence. Pitino can recruit and build a big-time basketball
program. He’s proven it before. He’s making a mint right now with the
Celtics but that could actually work in Kansas’ favor since he’s
already made a ton of money he may be willing to work for less. After
all, how many racehorses can one buy? An interesting choice but some
serious recruiting would have to be done.
Another interesting choice would be Rick Majerus. Can you imagine
Majerus with the type of talent that he could recruit at Kansas? On
the floor, he would be excellent. He could win a lot of games at
Allen Field House. Fredrick could shy away from Majerus because his
personality may not be the best suited for dealing with boosters. You
would also have to live with the fact that he may not stay long, as
he has often mentioned that coaching in the NBA has intrigued him.
With only 7 coaches in the history of the program, that may be
something that Fredrick doesn’t want to go through.
There is a long list of former Williams’ assistants and current head
coaches that will draw some interest. Matt Doherty at Notre Dame,
Kevin Stallings at Vanderbilt and Steve Robinson at Florida State
will all be viable candidates for Fredrick if the situation develops.
It could be tough for Doherty to get the call after only one season
at Notre Dame. Robinson could get a serious look. He has found things
a little tougher at Florida State after making a big splash for the
Golden Hurricanes at the University of Tulsa.
Kevin Stallings is the odds on favorite at this point. He has had
success at Illinois State and helped Vanderbilt this past year have a
solid season in a nice turnaround. He also has Bob Fredrick’s son
currently working for him at Vanderbilt, so Bob can get plenty of
inside information on this candidate.
Other names that have an outside chance but aren’t likely to end up
as main candidates are Seton Hall’s Tommy Amaker, Iowa’s Steve Alford
and Illinois’ Bill Self. Self would have been a good fit if he had
not just taken the Illinois job. Alford is in the midst of building a
pretty good program at Iowa, although Alford leaving there may not be
as far-fetched as some would think. Amaker may not be a serious
candidate because he is part of the “Duke Family.” Which means he
would have to coach against fellow “Family” member Quinn Snyder and
he is probably not high on Roy Williams and the “Dean Smith Family”
The only certainty is that Kelvin Sampson will not get either job. In
fact, rumor has it that he has pulled his name out of consideration
for both jobs. Something about it becoming a habit whenever there’s
another job opening.