The polls just closed, but the masses made it abundantly clear who they wanted in this quadrant of the bracket. One matchup came with a clear consensus. The other? Not so much.
Below, you’ll see our picks, your pick, and one tiebreaker. I’ve tried to (briefly) offer a few comments on what transpired. But we can’t dwell for long. Another four coaches are up for your consideration today.
Also, thanks to every one who read, voted, and commented. Our goal is to give you a sense of the options and a chance to express your voice — even if this exercise is for fun. Thanks for playing along.
Dennis Gates vs. Jeff Linder
- Sam Snelling: Linder
- Matthew Harris: Gates
- Matt Watkins: Linder
- Fans: Linder
Are we surprised that Linder’s moving on? Not really. Buzz around him really picked up over the latter half of the season. Even if he’s at Wyoming, it’s easier to watch and track the Mountain West Conference than the Horizon League. (You have to do some hunting on ESPN+.)
Personally, I opted for Gates. He’s shown dexterity in identifying talent, whether it’s a JUCO prospect or the right mid-major addition. And while Linder could hire assistants to quickly make inroads with some regional grassroots programs, especially in the southeast, Gates spent eight years relying on them with Leonard Hamilton at Florida State.
But my sentiment was clearly in the minority. As for Gates, he’s reportedly a strong contender at Georgia. So, maybe he’ll wind up swinging through CoMO anyway.
Advancing: Jeff Linder
Kim English vs. Todd Golden
- Sam Snelling: Golden
- Matthew Harris: Golden
- Matt Watkins: Golden
- Fans: English
A split decisions was easy to predict here, and per our protocol, we’re going to throw it over to our mediator to break the deadlock.
Tie-Breaker | Jim Root | 2nd Chance Points
This is a terrific first matchup and embodies some larger narratives of Mizzou’s coaching search.
Some will gravitate to English because he is an alum. But, I am here to tell you: it does not matter. Since Norm Stewart retired, Mizzou’s best stretch of basketball came under a coach that left for Arkansas. Sure, that stung. But having a coach do well enough to leap to a better job is a good thing!
If the concern is that Golden might want to move on from Mizzou one day, well, he will be highly incentivized to succeed. We have been starved for success.
Another reason many will support English is his SEC experience at Tennessee. But most likely do not know that Todd Golden was an Auburn assistant for two seasons under Bruce Pearl. That’s the same number of seasons English was in the SEC! And remember, Kim played in the Big 12.
Both guys can get players. Both have used the transfer portal admirably. But only one of these guys has actually won games. Golden is about to lead San Francisco to its first NCAA Tournament berth since 1998. He is responsible for San Francisco’s two highest KenPom finishes in the 21st century and three of the top five. He’s only been there three years!
Golden engineered the first at-large berth for a WCC program not named Gonzaga, BYU, or Saint Mary’s since 2002. He quite literally accomplished things that have not been done in decades – did it quickly.
Final point: Golden is whip-smart. He finds the little edges in everything: non-conference scheduling (a largely unexploited inefficiency), in-game strategy, and player evaluation. Having someone who understands the value of going 2-for-1 at the end of a half would be a significant advantage! In the end, it’s Golden for me by a country mile. English may someday be an outstanding coach; Golden is a phenomenal one right now.
Advancing: Todd Golden
Next Up: Steady Risers Region
Today, we’re dropping two more mid-major themed matchups. Only the quartet of coaches is a little more calloused. Our first pairing features Colorado State’s Niko Medved and Belmont’s Casey Alexander, while North Texas’ Grant McCasland meets Murray State’s Matt McMahon.
The easy selections: Medved, McCasland, and McMahon. Their names are everywhere. The fourth spot? Man, there are bountiful options: Drake’s Darren DeVries, VCU’s Mike Rhoades, Ohio’s Jeff Boals, UC-Irvine’s Russell Turner, Furman’s Bob Richey, and so on. In the early days of a search, names are abundant. But again, three candidates were looking at appear to have the best staying power as Desiree Reed-Francois goes about her work.
We opted for Alexander, though. As the person who profiled him, I hope you’ll see why he’s attractive relative to some other options. And why he might be tough to woo.
There’s not a Shaka Smart, Brad Stevens, or Porter Moser sitting in this group. However, the lack of star power is balanced by incredible depth. Over the last decade, programs in the Atlantic 10, Mountain West, and West Coast Conference have invested at a level that’s closed the gap on a conference like the Pac 12. The Missouri Valley is smartly plucking Belmont and Murray State to replace Loyola Chicago.
Put simply, the product being put on the floor by mid-major-plus programs has improved to the point where it’s a reliable proxy for what a coach might do at a program like Missouri.