It starts at some point every College Basketball season. The ‘Hot Seat’ list before the season starts, the losing streaks, falling short of expectations, and roster fallout. Or in the case of the Texas Longhorns, an ugly domestic abuse situation forces the University to fire a successful coach.
Missouri is all too used to being involved in the coaching carousel, having hired six coaches since Norm Stewart retired after the 1999 season. When they hired their sixth, Dennis Gates, just this past spring, a lot of Mizzou fans hoped they would be able to stay off the carousel for a while. But staying off the Coaching Carousel doesn’t mean you won’t get dragged into conversations about it, and TheAthletic.com’s Seth Davis is already name dropping Dennis Gates as someone who might immediately flee the confines of Columbia, MO for the sidelines in Austin, TX:
Dennis Gates, Missouri head coach. Gates’ name wouldn’t have been on this list even two weeks ago, but now that he has the Tigers back in the Top 25 following blowout wins over Illinois and Kentucky, he has to merit some consideration. Whether he actually takes this job will depend mostly on whether Missouri can keep it rolling for the remainder of the season, but also on how deep Gates’ desire is to succeed Leonard Hamilton at Florida State, where Gates served as an assistant coach for eight years. Gates is in Year 1 at Missouri after taking Cleveland State to the NCAA Tournament.
First things first here, I don’t think Gates leaves Mizzou for Texas this offseason. I wouldn’t say it’s a 0% chance, but I’d just call those odds long. For one, I’d be very surprised if Gates left Missouri after one season to go anywhere. But also, Chris Del Conte, the Texas Athletic Director, is basically obsessed with making a very strong and very splashy hire. He hired Jamie Dixon away from Pitt, while at TCU. He also lured Vic Schaefer away from Mississippi State after leading the Bulldogs to multiple Final Fours. And he also hired the wildly successful Beard to Texas from Texas Tech. I’d have to think for Del Conte to get to someone like Gates, he’d have already struck out on names much higher on the list. Names like Musselman, Calipari, maybe Cronin. Think about some of the biggest names in College Basketball and go from there.
I also think, and this is strictly me reading the situation, that the “successor to Leonard Hamilton” angle is a bit overplayed. Not that I can’t envision Dennis Gates going back to Tallahassee at some point; it’s entirely possible. I just don’t get the impression that it’s some kind of career goal for him or for Hamilton, for that matter.
Now to get to the point. When things are going well for your program, other programs are going to want what you have.
We’ve seen this before with Mike Anderson, when he flirted with both Georgia and Oregon, and eventually left for Arkansas. But those were also leverage plays for Anderson. Mike Alden was historically cheap. Oregon and Georgia were not. By talking to Oregon and Georgia, Anderson could leverage wealthier schools into forcing Mizzou to step up its game. And as we’ve written time and again on this site, it’s rarely about what the head coach makes, and more about what other money he has to work with for his staff.
But Mizzou has several things working in its favor at this point, besides the fact that Gates has just 14 games under his belt at the high major level. When Desiree Reed-Francois hired Gates, she gave him a nice staff pool to work with. The support staff around Dennis Gates is a deep one. There is the Whitten Family Endowment gifted to the program last year, which should help boost the budget on an annual basis. And then, with the recent success of the program, they’re selling out a big arena. And without being accused of blaming the fans for past Mizzou struggles, having paying butts in seats generates revenue…which helps boost budgets. People showing up and filling 15k seats on a regular basis is money into the pockets of the AD. And with Mizzou Athletics not being a business, they’re going to put that money back into Athletics.
So if another program comes calling for Gates, it is a good sign as it means Mizzou is successful, and Reed-Francois and the Athletics Department have an opportunity to show what they’re about. I have a hunch that DRF will step up. I think she believes she has the guy she wants in place in Dennis Gates. Maybe there are some jobs you can’t turn down, but I’m not sure Texas is that job, and I’m skeptical Florida State is one as well.
I hope other programs say they’re interested in hiring Dennis Gates because that means he’s doing a good job. But if things continue on their path, I also think Missouri can build the kind of leverage needed to ward off any other suitors. Maybe not forever, but for a while at least.
What to watch in CBB: Jan 7, 2023
|11:00 AM||Creighton||UConn (4)||-7.5||147.5||FOX|
|11:00 AM||Texas (6)||-3.5||Oklahoma State||135.5||ESPNU|
|11:00 AM||Vanderbilt||Missouri (20)||-8.5||147.5||CBS|
|12:00 PM||Kentucky||Alabama (7)||-5.5||147||ESPN|
|12:00 PM||Duke (16)||-8||Boston College||131||ACCN|
|12:30 PM||Wisconsin (14)||Illinois||ESPN2|
|1:00 PM||Iowa State (25)||TCU (17)||-5.5||133||ESPNU|
|1:00 PM||Ole Miss||Mississippi State||-5.5||126||CBS|
|2:30 PM||Tennessee (8)||-17||South Carolina||127.5||SECN|
|3:30 PM||Xavier (18)||Villanova||-2||145.5||FS1|
|4:00 PM||Washington State||Arizona (5)||-12||150.5||PAC12|
|4:00 PM||Syracuse||Virginia (11)||-12||127||ACCN|
|4:00 PM||Delaware||Charleston (23)||-13||148.5||CBSSN|
|5:00 PM||Kansas (3)||-2||West Virginia||145.5||ESPN+|
|5:00 PM||Kansas State||Baylor (19)||-6.5||146||ESPN+|
|5:00 PM||LSU||Texas A&M||-5.5||138.5||SECN|
|7:30 PM||Arkansas (13)||Auburn (22)||-2.5||141||SECN|
|8:30 PM||UNLV||New Mexico (21)||-5.5||149.5||CBSSN|
|9:00 PM||Gonzaga (9)||-8.5||Santa Clara||159||Stadium|