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The Volunteers are in the hunt for another basketball coach. Here are some contenders
Stop if you’ve heard this before: Tennessee is looking for a high-profile coach. Since 2008, the Volunteers have needed to hire seven football and men’s basketball coaches.
And that doesn’t count the retirement of legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt. Bruce Pearl, now the head coach at Auburn, is the only men’s coach since 1989 to last more than five seasons.
Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart will have his work cut out for him on a number of fronts. The departure of Cuonzo Martin to Cal in mid-April is one of the latest hires in the coaching carousel. With the deadline for players to pull out of the NBA Draft approaching and recruiting for 2014-15 nearing an end, many coaches are already preparing for next season.
And then there’s the nature of Martin’s departure. Many Tennessee players congratulated Martin on leaving for Cal as the Volunteers never embraced the coach who led UT to the Sweet 16 in his third season.
So Tennessee — again — will be hiring a coach under less than ideal circumstances. Here’s a look at potential contenders:
Tad Boyle, Colorado
Boyle has led Colorado to three consecutive NCAA Tournament berths, the first time the Buffaloes have done so in school history. Last year’s team may have been his best before point guard Spencer Dinwiddie was lost for the remainder of the season.
Rick Byrd, Belmont
The Knoxville native was a contender for the job when Martin was hired. Byrd will be 61 by the time the 2014-15 season starts, and he’s never coached above the Ohio Valley level. Still, Byrd is nearing the 700-career win mark and is considered one of the nation’s top coaching minds at any level of college basketball.
Ben Howland, formerly UCLA
Tennessee could find few coaches with the ledger of Howland, who took UCLA to three Final Fours. His name has surfaced in coaching searches in the year since he’s been out, including the Marquette position this offseason. With his resume, Holland may demand more than Tennessee is willing to spend.
Chris Mack, Xavier
Mack took a phone call for the Cal job that eventually went to Martin. The Xavier coach reiterated his commitment to the Musketeers, but his willingness to listen was nonetheless eye-opening for a coach with such deep ties to Xavier. Mack has reached the NCAA Tournament four times in five seasons at Xavier, but the last two seasons included a First Four loss and no postseason appearance altogether.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Tennessee has looked his way twice already. Clearly, Marshall’s situation is different than it was years earlier, thanks to a trip to the Final Four and a 35-1 season. Marshall’s salary is approaching $2 million whereas Martin was paid $1.35 million at Tennessee. Wichita State also has plenty of fan and administrative support to be a national power. This may be too close to a lateral move, or worse, from Marshall’s point of view.
Archie Miller, Dayton
Miller watched his brother jump from Xavier to Arizona, and now Archie may be poised for a similar leap after reaching the Elite Eight in 2014. With the fan support and recruiting base for Dayton, Miller could build a successful program with the Flyers for several years. As with Marshall, there may be little incentive for Miller to jump to a second-tier SEC job.
Donnie Tyndall, Southern Miss
Tyndall picked up where Larry Eustachy left off at Southern Miss, leading the Eagles to back-to-back NIT appearances. Southern Miss is 25-7 in Conference USA the last two seasons, both years making a push for an at-large NCAA bid. Before Southern Miss, Tyndall twice led Morehead State to the NCAA Tournament, including an upset of fourth-seeded Louisville in 2011.
Mike White, Louisiana Tech
White is only 37, but he has plenty of SEC experience as an assistant at Ole Miss. He’s spent three seasons at Louisiana Tech, leading the Bulldogs to two NIT appearances in the last two. Louisiana Tech is 56-15 in the last two seasons.
A few names from deep range:
Tommy Amaker, Harvard
His name has appeared on coaching candidate lists before and will continue to appear as long as Harvard is rolling.
Derek Kellogg, UMass
The John Calipari disciple broke through after six seasons on the job at UMass. He also lost to Martin and Tennessee in the round of 64.
Greg Lansing, Indiana State
If not for Wichita State, Lansing’s record in the Missouri Valley would be more impressive. Even while battling the Shockers, Lansing has four postseason appearances in four seasons, including the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
Eric Musselman, former Arizona State assistant
Three sub-.500 years as an NBA head coach is still NBA experience. The ex-Sun Devils assistant was in the mix for the Cal job.
Richard Pitino, Minnesota
The 31-year-old son of Louisville coach Rick Pitino is a rising star in the business after one season at FIU and one at Minnesota, the latter resulting in an NIT championship. He’s also a former Florida assistant.
Steve Prohm, Murray State
Prohm hasn’t come close to matching his 31-2 campaign in his debut season, but the Racers have won 46 combined games the last two years.
Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin
The former Frank Martin assistant at Kansas State and South Carolina went 32-3 and reached the round of 32 in his first season as a head coach.