The college basketball coaching carousel started slowly when some big-ticket jobs did not come open, but it has kicked into high gear this week. Among recent developments:
• Longtime Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin is talking to UNLV, as has been reported by multiple outlets. Several basketball insiders said they believe Cronin will ultimately decide to stay at Cincinnati, but a contract issue – he’s signed through 2021, but not all of it is guaranteed – could be a factor in his willingness to get involved at UNLV. Cronin has kicked the tires on other jobs several times and gotten results; the extension he signed in 2014 was the fourth he has received during his tenure at Cincinnati. If UNLV gets past Cronin, South Carolina's Frank Martin could be in the mix.
• A lot of eyes are on Georgia Tech as it plays in the NIT this week. The Yellow Jackets are at San Diego State Wednesday; when their season ends it will be up to athletic director Mike Bobinski whether to retain fifth-year coach Brian Gregory. He’s won 21 games this year, the most at Tech since 2009-10 and the third-most in the past 20 years. But the Yellow Jackets have not been to the NCAA tournament under Gregory, and there has been speculation that Bobinski will look for a big-name replacement.
• Since Jamie Dixon left Pittsburgh for TCU, speculation immediately centered on the Miller brothers – Sean at Arizona and Archie at Dayton. They’re from the Pittsburgh area and have been highly successful head coaches – but sources say Sean, a star Pitt point guard in the 1980s, has no interest and it is believed that Archie is unlikely to pursue the job, either. Where Pitt would go after that is unclear, but Dixon assistant Brandin Knight, a former Panthers standout himself, has received a lot of support internally and from the Pitt community.
• Florida Gulf Coast’s Joe Dooley has emerged as a significant candidate at Saint Louis, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports. There have been media reports that Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, a St. Louis native whose teams have underachieved in recent years, is a candidate, but that remains to be seen. Former Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford is interested in getting involved, according to sources. Other potential names: Arkansas-Little Rock’s Chris Beard and six-year Michigan assistant LaVall Jordan. The problem with Jordan: Saint Louis athletic director Chris May has said his search will focus on established head coaches.
• At Central Florida, the top candidate is former Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, sources said. However, the UCF job came open March 10 and Dawkins was fired at Stanford March 14, so there is some lag time that indicates it’s no slam dunk. Among those who could be on UCF’s radar if the search extends beyond Dawkins is Linc Darner, who took Green Bay to the NCAA tournament in his first season there. Darner knows the recruiting ground after having great success at Division II Florida Southern College, which is in nearby Lakeland.
• Milwaukee somewhat surprisingly fired 11-year coach Rob Jeter after a 20-win season – his fifth 20-win year, but he’s only led the Panthers to the NCAA tournament twice. That led to some backlash directed at athletic director Amanda Braun – particularly from Wisconsin Sen. Lena Taylor, who verbally challenged Braun during a news conference to discuss Jeter’s dismissal. One candidate for the job is Milwaukee native T.J. Otzelberger, an Iowa State assistant, but sources said the school intends to cast a wide net in its search.
• Another surprise opening in the Horizon League came at Wright State, which parted ways with Billy Donlon after his third 20-win season in the past four years. Among the potential candidates to replace Donlon are Ohio State assistants Jeff Boals and Xavier assistant Travis Steele. Another candidate could be Evansville’s Marty Simmons, whose team won 25 games this season but missed the NCAA tournament on a last-second shot by Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Conference tournament final.
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