While most working Americans find their productivity grind to a halt during March Madness, a few athletic departments across the NCAA are kicking things into high gear instead. With the entire world distracted on Thursday, Indiana was the latest team to fire its head coach, joining Cal and Washington as big programs that suddenly have an opening.
The Missouri Tigers also had an opening, but quickly kicked off poaching season when they took former Golden Bears coach Cuonzo Martin. As for the other schools, they’ll take a more drawn out approach, with many outstanding candidates still in the tournament this weekend. But just because they’re waiting to make an offer, it doesn’t mean we can’t start setting odds. Here’s who we think will fill some of the biggest openings in college hoops.
Odds on Cal’s next head coach
- Dennis Gates (FSU assistant): 7/2
- Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s HC): 4/1
- Joe Pasternack (Arizona assistant): 19/4
- Eric Musselman (Nevada HC): 7/1
- Theo Robertson (LA Lakers assistant): 9/1
- Wyking Jones (Cal assistant and interim HC): 17/1
- Field: 13/2
If a Pac-12 coach isn’t originally from the west coast, odds are they’ll follow Martin’s footsteps and return home one day. So Cal will be looking to attract not only a promising bench boss, but one with local ties. Just down the road is an excellent option in St. Mary’s Randy Bennett, but with Cal athletics losing money, can they afford to woo Bennett away?
Other options from the former Bears players/assistant coaches pipeline include Florida State’s Dennis Gates and Arizona’s Joe Pasternack. The school has also been rumored to be reaching out to Lakers assistants Brian Shaw and Theo Robertson, and with Robertson never working as a head coach before, this could be an excellent opportunity.
Odds on Indiana’s next head coach
- Chris Holtmann (Butler HC): 5/3
- Steve Alford (UCLA HC): 2/1
- Archie Miller (Dayton HC): 8/1
- Gregg Marshall (Wichita State HC): 12/1
- Field: 17/2
Will the Hoosiers exert their dominance over little brother Butler by stealing the head coach who’s led them to three straight tournament appearances? That wouldn’t even be a question, if there weren’t a ton of other great routes for Indiana to go. Former Hoosiers star Steve Alford could be looking to move back home from UCLA, especially with his son currently playing out his final season as a Bruin.
Then there’s the whispers that Indiana could be the job that finally lures Gregg Marshall away from Wichita State, a program he’s revitalized over the last decade.
Odds on Washington’s next head coach:
- Eric Musselman (Nevada HC): 7/3
- Leon Rice (Boise State HC): 5/1
- Randy Bennett (St. Mary’s HC): 6/1
- Archie Miller (Dayton HC): 9/1
- Tommy Lloyd (Gonzaga assistant): 10/1
- Field: 4/1
None of the prior success Lorenzo Romar had in his 15 years at Washington could save him after missing the tournament for the sixth straight year and winning just nine games despite the presence of future first-overall pick Markelle Fultz. In search of a new coach for the first time since 2002, the Huskies will likely take a similar approach to Cal and focus on west coast standouts.
Eric Musselman should draw a ton of interest: the former NBA coach has turned Nevada around in three years, and should be looking for a new challenge. Leon Rice down in Boise could also get a look. And while he wouldn’t make for a splashy hire, Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd is due for a shot at the big chair.
If the Huskies do want to look beyond the mountains, they could offer Miller the intriguing opportunity to coach against his brother Sean (Arizona): sibling rivalry can be a very motivating factor.