Coaching tenures don't work out for various reasons. Sometimes it's a bad fit. Sometimes there's bad luck involved. Sometimes coaches just aren't ready for the challenges. Well, the decision-makers at Grand Canyon, Evansville, and Tarleton State (joining the Division I ranks in the WAC this season) are counting on turnarounds from three coaches who went a combined 5–49 in their final seasons at the power-conference level.
Surprising Second (Or More) Chances)
Bryce Drew, Grand Canyon
After a successful run at Valparaiso, Drew took over at Vanderbilt — a program that had made the NCAA Tournament six times in the previous 10 seasons — in 2016 but lasted only three years in Nashville. He was fired after going 0–18 in the SEC in 2018-19.
Billy Gillispie, Tarleton State
The last time we saw Gillispie as a Division I head coach was at Texas Tech in 2011-12. It did not go well. The Red Raiders went 1–17 in the Big 12, and Gillispie resigned after the season citing health reasons. He's been a junior college coach the past five years.
Todd Lickliter, Evansville
Lickliter was given the job at Evansville despite going 0–13 as the Purples Aces' interim head coach last season. His three-year run at Iowa ended in 2009-10 with a 4–14 record in the Big Ten.
But for every recycled head coach who gets another chance at a small school, there is also the story of new head coaches who come from unusual backgrounds. Whether it's a high school coach moving to the collegiate level, a former NBA player, or the son of a famous coach, there are plenty interesting hires at the lower levels.
Top 5 Intriguing Hires
Bucky McMillan, Samford
Samford is rolling the dice on a 37-year-old whose coaching resume consists of 13 years (12 as the head coach) at Mountain Brook (Ala.) High School.
Will Ryan, Green Bay
The son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan gets the job at Green Bay after one season as the head coach at Division II Wheeling (W.Va.) University. Ryan played collegiately at Milwaukee, Green Bay's Horizon League rival.
Jason Shay, ETSU
Shay was on Bruce Pearl's Tennessee staff with Steve Forbes, a group that was dismissed for NCAA violations. He now replaces Forbes as the head coach at ETSU.
Mo Williams, Alabama State
The former Alabama star was playing in the NBA as recently as 2017. He was on Mark Gottfried's staff at Cal State Northridge the last two seasons.
Luke Yaklich, UIC
A highly regarded defensive specialist, Yaklich gets his first head coaching job after recent stints as an assistant at Texas and Michigan.
(Top photo courtesy of @TarletonMBB)