Ben Howland emerges as serious candidate at Mississippi State

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Ben Howland has emerged as a serious candidate to be the next head coach at Mississippi State, multiple sources told NBCSports.com.

If hired, Howland would replace Rick Ray, who was fired by the program on Saturday afternoon after three seasons.

Howland has been the head coach at three different schools in the past 20 years. Most recently, he spent nine seasons at UCLA, where he led the Bruins to three straight Final Fours from 2006-2008. He was fired in April of 2013, ironically enough after he led UCLA to the Pac-12 regular season title, the fourth of his tenure.

Prior to UCLA, Howland also coached at Northern Arizona and Pitt, winning league titles at both stops. He didn’t coach either of the past two seasons, instead working as a color commentator for both Fox Sports and NBC Sports college basketball broadcasts.