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Who are athletic directors looking to hire under the pressure of a fan base that had likely been clamoring for change? Is it an under-the-radar but well-respected assistant from a major program? Or could they, in fact, be wooed by the sparkle of a mid-major coach who appears to have a world of promise after leading his small program on a Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament?
That is the topic Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis explored in an interview Tuesday on The Dan Patrick Show, days after UCLA fired head coach Ben Howland and Minnesota fired head coach Tubby Smith.
There is a certain degree of instant gratification that comes along with chasing the hottest commodities. In this go ’round of the coaching carousel, that is likely Butler’s Brad Stevens and VCU’s Shaka Smart, perhaps with Memphis’ Josh Pastner added in for good measure. Athletic directors will try to score early points, regardless of whether or not that is the best long-term fit for the program. As Davis terms it, “winning the press conference.”
Not to say Stevens and Smart in particular are not quality coaches, but there is a difference between a secure mid-major job with a near guarantee of an NCAA tournament every season and taking a job like the one at UCLA. Smart and Stevens can do no wrong at their respective schools right now. The recruiting pipeline continues to pump in talent that can developed over a full four-year collegiate career and there is less overall media attention.
In moving to a job like UCLA, there will be an initial honeymoon period, but eventually any coach hired will be subjected to the same level of scrutiny that got Howland fired after three Final Fours in Westwood.
So the question some coaches will have to answer in the coming months is: will it be worth it?
Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_
Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.
On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.
One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.
As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).
And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.
While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.
And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.
St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.
Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.
St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.
The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?