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13 Potential Coaching Candidates to Replace Billy Donovan at Florida

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Billy Donovan

Billy Donovan

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley is no stranger to conducting a job search in order to replace a championship coach.

He’s done it with Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer on the football side. And thanks to Billy Donovan’s brief dalliance with the Orlando Magic in 2007, he started the process to replace Donovan once before. Ironically, the likely replacement in ’07 was then-VCU coach Anthony Grant, who returned to the staff as an assistant this season.

Presumably, Donovan’s time with the Oklahoma City Thunder will be longer than his four-day tenure in Orlando, and the Gators will need to hire a new coach.

Here are a few potential candidates who might end up in the mix to replace the best basketball coach in program history.

Archie Miller, Dayton

He’s one of the hottest coaching candidates out there after taking Dayton to the Elite Eight and NCAA round of 32 in the last two seasons. The 2014-15 season was especially impressive as the shorthanded and undersized Flyers finished 13-5 in the Atlantic 10 and defeated Boise State and Providence in the NCAA Tournament. Miller, however, just agreed a contract extension through 2022 at Dayton. Is Miller waiting for a job like Florida or perhaps a bigger target?

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Alabama did all it could to woo Marshall from Wichita State, but he resisted. And to Wichita’s credit, the Shockers responded with a contract extension and a raise to a reported $3.3 million a year. Florida is a better situation than Alabama, will that be enough for the coach to both make the move and walk away from a school that did all it could to keep him. Marshall has turned Wichita State into one of the nation's premier programs, leading the Shockers to 30 wins in each of the last three seasons, including a Final Four in 2013 and a 35-1 season in 2013-14. Marshall also led Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons.

Chris Mack, Xavier

The last three Xavier coaches went to Wake Forest, Ohio State and Arizona with all enjoying success at the major conference level. Mack is just as capable to flourish at a higher level after three Sweet 16 appearances in six seasons.

Anthony Grant/John Pelphrey, Florida

The Gators are in a bind by making a coaching change in late April and early May. The carousel has slowed (in particular with Shaka Smart now at Texas and Marshall and Miller agreeing to contract extensions). Grant and Pelphrey have both won on the mid-major level at VCU and South Alabama, respectively. But they’re also back at Florida after being fired from SEC head coaching jobs.

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Richard Pitino, Minnesota

Donovan did a good job of sending assistants to bigger and better jobs, but few of them would be realistic candidates. Shaka Smart just left VCU for Texas. Anthony Grant and John Pelphrey returned to Donovan’s staff because they were fired at Alabama and Arkansas, respectively. Matt McCall is 33 and was just hired at Chattanooga. That leaves Pitino, who was a Florida assistant for two seasons in between stints working for his father at Louisville. The 32-year-old Pitino is 14-22 in the Big Ten at Minnesota but led an impressive one-year turnaround in his first head coaching gig at FIU.

Mike White, Louisiana Tech

White turned down Tennessee hired Donnie Tyndall last season. The 38-year-old is primed for a move, but no NCAA Tournament appearances despite three Conference USA regular season titles is a bit concerning. The Bulldogs are 44-8 in C-USA the last three seasons, stalling in the league tournament each year.

Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh

The star has dimmed at bit for Dixon during the last four seasons. His program was once one of the biggest overachievers in the Big East, reaching the NCAA Tournament in each of his first seven years. Pitt has missed the Tournament in two of the last four seasons and has won only three Tournament games since the heartbreaking loss to Villanova in the 2009 Elite Eight.

Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Jacobson has been at Northern Iowa since 2001 and as head coach since 2006. The entire run includes six NCAA appearances. Jacobson led the Panthers to the Sweet 16 with an upset of No. 1 seed Kansas in 2010, but this year’s squad (31-4) may have been his best team in Cedar Falls.

Steve Prohm, Murray State

In four seasons at Murray State, Prohm has coached a team that went 31-2 in 2011-12 and another that won 25 in a row en route to a 27-5 record in 2014-15. He unearthed point guard Cam Payne out of Memphis two years ago and watched him develop into a pro prospect. He’s an Alabama graduate who was not a factor in the Crimson Tide’s coach search.

Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin

The former Frank Martin assistant has been a head coach for only two seasons, but it’s been quite the run. The Lumberjacks are 61-8 in two seasons with two Tournament appearances and two conference titles. His pressure defense has finished in the top 10 in defensive turnover rate in teach of the last two seasons.

Dan Hurley, Rhode Island

Arizona State just hired Hurley’s brother Bobby, but Dan has orchestrated arguably the better programs. He’s never been to the NCAA Tournament but has led dramatic improvement at two spots already. Wagner went 13-17 in his first season and 25-5 in his second. Rhode Island improved from 8-21 in his first year to 23-10 and an NIT appearance in his third.

Larry Krystkowiak, Utah

Krystkowiak led a major rebuilding project at Utah, taking over a shell of a roster and going 6-25 in his first season. The Utes improved their Pac-12 record each season and reached the Sweet 16 in 2015. Krystkowiak also took Montana to the NCAA Tournament twice, leading an upset over fifth-seeded Nevada in 2006. He also has significant experience in the NBA, including more than a year as a head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Larry Shyatt, Wyoming

Florida might be in dire straits if the Gators get to Shyatt. It’s not that he’s a bad candidate. He was an assistant on Florida’s two national championship teams and took Wyoming to the NCAA Tournament last season. But he’s also 64 years old with a 70-84 tenure at Clemson on the resume.