Ranking the top coaching hires of the 2014 offseason

1.) Bruce Pearl, Auburn – Duh, right? From the moment he stepped on campus, Pearl has started to stock the program with talent now (Cimmeon Bowers, K.C. Ross-Miller) and later (Kareem Canty, three four-star recruits in his 2015 recruiting class). He’s got the fire to coach again after the show-cause. This team could sneak into the NIT.

2.) Kim Anderson, Missouri – If not for Pearl, this would be my top hire. I know a few Mizzou alums, and I got the same response from all of them, “we’ve tried the big names like Haith and Mike Anderson. We’ve tried the hot assistants in Snyder. Why not try this?” Anderson is a Mizzou alum, a Missouri native and a long-time DII coach in the state with a national title to his name. Why not?

3.) Buzz Williams, Virginia Tech – Kudos to the Hokies for showing their commitment to their basketball program. Williams is already getting commitments himself (three four stars for 2015), it’s just going to take time for the program to develop. And this just won’t be the year, more than likely.

4.) Danny Manning, Wake Forest – I was skeptical about this hire. Then I thought about it. Manning isn’t too far removed from his playing days, and his name also endures with the older folks who know him from his “Danny and The Miracles” days at Kansas. If he can recruit, he’ll do fine.

5.) Wayne Tinkle, Oregon State – Tinkle is a Montana guy. Somehow, the Beavers’ brass got him to Corvallis. It doesn’t hurt that Tinkle locked up his prep star son, as well as his assistants’ kin, who is a great prep player himself. Time will tell of his enthusiasm translates to wins in the Pac-12.

6.) Steve Wojciechowski, Marquette – This is a solid match. Woj (I’m not spelling his name more than once unless required) loves basketball tradition coming from Duke. Marquette has a lot of that tradition stuff. If he can recruit, look out.

7.) Kelvin Sampson, Houston – We all forget, Sampson went to 13 NCAA Tournaments in his final 14 college coaching seasons before burying himself in a show-cause penalty at Indiana. He’s off to a good start with the Cougars getting Chicken Knowles to stick around and recruiting Devonta Pollard out of junior college.

8.) Donnie Tyndall, Tennessee(DISCLAIMER: This is without including the NCAA investigation, it’s too early to factor it in) Tyndall has just won on the low major level of Morehead State — while finding and developing Kenneth Faried — and on the mid-major level at Southern Miss, where he maintained what Larry Eustachy left him. Now? He just has to do it on the high level stage.

9.) Orlando Antigua, South Florida – Antigua was able to recruit to Kentucky. Now, he has the Sun Dome to use, not Rupp Arena (which isn’t exactly a downgrade) and a major city like Tampa. If he can keep that recruiting going for USF, he’ll be fine in the AAC.

10.) Cuonzo Martin, California – Martin wasn’t appreciated in Knoxville. Still, in his one season with his players (two seasons cleaning up the mess left after Pearl was fired) he made the Sweet 16 after underachieving in the regular season. With Jabari Bird to build around, Martin could thrive in Berkeley.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ernie Kent, Washington State – Once upon a time, Kent rebuilt Oregon into a team that made seven postseason appearances in his 13 years in Eugene, including two Elite Eights. He’ll have to rebuild in Pullman the way he did with the Ducks.

Best Value For Their Contract – Sampson: It maxes out at a total of $4.5 million over five years. For a coach with his resume at a place like Houston, that’s a steal.

Best No One Is Talking About – Kent: As the afforementioned blurb stated, Kent has rebuilt before. He can do it again. And in the same region. Which means he’s familiar with everything around him.

Best, Considering the Talent on the Roster – Antigua: He has nine freshmen, redshirt freshman or sophomores on the roster. Add in two junior college transfers, and that’s 11 inexperienced players on the roster. Tyndall feels his pain, and is narrowly edged out here. He’ll have a tough road to travel as well.

Other notable coaching hires: Doc Sadler, Southern Miss; Jim Christian, Ohio; Bob Walsh, Maine; Frank Haith, Tulsa; Jason Gardner, IUPUI; Mike Dunlap, Loyola Marymount; Mike Rhoades, Rice; Heath Schroyer, Tennessee-Martin;Earl Grant, College of Charleston; Kevin Keatts, UNC-Wilmington; Scott Padgett, Samford; Mike Maker, Marist; Saul Phillips, Ohio; Tic Price, Lamar; Dan D’Antoni, Marshall.

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This is why you can’t have nice things, College of Charleston

First off, this isn’t a difficult thing, Joe Hull. When you fire a coach — with cause — you have to have an idea of what direction you’re going before you drop the axe.

Players told the administration that former coach Doug Wojcik had harassed them to the point where they felt he went across the line. In two seasons, the former Tulsa coach went 38-29 and hadn’t really generated any momentum with a program (the same problems he ran into in his final seasons with the Golden Hurricane) that experienced a bit of a rebirth under legendary coach Bobbby Cremins.

So, with all the current public information in hand, Hull, the athletic director, fired him.

That was on August 5. Which is, obviously, a horrible time to be forced to fire a college basketball coach. Freshman are arriving on campus to start summer term with the program. The summer recruiting period is over and for the most part, coaches are starting to turn their focus onto the upcoming season. But now, there’s no coach to be able to focus on the College of Charleston’s season.

Three weeks later, not only is there no new head coach on campus, the top two reported coaches for the job have publicly pulled their names from consideration.

Normally, when one coach does it, you can sometimes pin it to the fact that he was told, privately, that he was no longer being considered. But when three do it? Something’s off. And there’s no information out to prove that it’s something that’s on the administration.

So, for now, here’s how Joe Hull, you should handle the next week. Because that’s the time frame it should take to get your new coach into place.

  • Take a day and try to get Anthony Johnson back in play. It’s a risk, but you assumed a larger risk when you fired your head coach in August. He’s the best candidate for the job as one of the best players in program history and a man who can actually get folks excited about the program again.
  • If that doesn’t work, for the next few days, do everything in your power to be open about the search with the media. It’s the best way to get others to see what you’re dealing with. Transparency is key. Obviously, this has to be done while getting in the next few candidates.
  • Then get the best two remaining candidates and bring them in for an interview. They’re former Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz, who had some great days as head man of the 49ers, and Clemson assistant Earl Grant, who has tremendous ties to the state, with coaching stops at The Citadel, Winthrop and, (of course) Clemson.
  • Make a damn hire.

Hires for programs like the College of Charleston’s shouldn’t normally be big news. Only when there’s an egregious error in the process, as their have been many. Some that may have been avoidable.

We can’t sit here and say we have all the information, but short of something criminal, I’d have to say that there can’t be much holding up the hire of the best candidate (who accepts the position) for the program. Except those within the College of Charleston camp.

Make the hire and get on with the season. It’s not that hard.

Right? Wrong? Think this is nuts? Email at tbbchronicles@gmail.com or find me on Twitter at @David_Harten.