We spent some time already talking about Kevin Keatts, Will Wade, Dan Muller and Dan Hurley. Those four are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to coaches who are in the discussion of being ready to take the next step up into the realm of Power Conference gigs.
Some guys are clearly ready to take the step, but not all of them who probably need a bit more seasoning before they make that jump.
- KenPom Before: 202
- KenPom Now: 41
The Blue Raiders were last seasons NCAA darlings after defeating Michigan State in the first round, and people starting paying attention to the job Kermit Davis was doing in Murfreesboro. Davis was one of the youngest coaches in Division 1 history when Idaho hired in way back in 1988, he got a little big for his britches and was served a show-cause penalty from the NCAA for recruiting violations at Texas A&M in 1991. Since then it’s been a long road back to this point.
Davis took the job at MTSU (now just Middle Tennessee) in 2002 and has done a good job maintaining a good program out of both the Sun Belt and Conference USA.
With his past discretions, Davis could see hesitancy from some Power Conference schools but the reality is his NCAA issues were a lifetime ago. Davis was always good at the job of coaching, and he’s paid his dues over the years. Stops at Chipola Junior College, LSU, Idaho (again), Utah State... at the same time it wouldn’t surprise me to see Davis stay put.
- KenPom Before: 271
- KenPom Now: 70
I gotta admit I like Eric Musselman a lot. He’s a little guy who isn’t afraid to get after his much larger players, and in turn make fairly silly faces. Plus he’s a good basketball coach.
Musselman’s bio on Wikipedia reads like an essay. Musselman is the son of former NBA head coach Bill Musselman, and like his father never seems to stick around anywhere for very long. His longest tenure was four years as the head coach of the CBA Rapid City Thrillers in the early 90’s. Eric was also the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and the Sacramento Kings, before finding his way onto Johnny Jones staff at LSU, and now at Nevada.
And Musselman has quickly turned around the Wolf Pack (should I capitalize the ‘p’?) and is drawing some nice ‘croots. Seeing as how he’s been in Reno now for two years, there’s good reason to think that Musselman might catch the next train out of town and jump on a Power Conference gig if it’s offered.
- KenPom Before: 166
- KenPom Now: 93
If a former student manager turned Director of Basketball Operations, turned full time assistant is your thing, Will Wade isn’t your only option in that category. Matt McCall got his start at Florida by managing the team, hustled his way to be Billy Donovan’s DoBO, and returned to Florida after a few years at Florida Atlantic. While at Florida (the second time) McCall earned his reputation as a hard worker on the court and a dog in recruiting. He went hard after big targets and helped land some huge recruiting classes before taking over for Will Wade at Chattanooga.
The transition from assistant to head coach was a fairly smooth one for McCall as he was blessed with a pretty stacked roster, and a program trending solidly upward. He maintained that momentum and will likely parlay that success into a coaching gig soon.
If I were a Power Conference Athletic Director, I’d wait on McCall. I know a lot of Missouri fans like him a lot but the reality is he was a good recruiter while under a legendary coach and took over a ready to win situation in Chattanooga. He’s still a good coach but the experience factor is a big concern and you have to wonder if a Power job might be a bit too much too soon for him.
East Tenn St
- KenPom Before: 217
- KenPom Now: 60
Forbes is a very intriguing coach. He’s been all over the place, coaching as an assistant or head coach in Iowa, Kansas, Idaho, Louisiana, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee and Florida. He’s coached at three Junior Collleges and seven four year colleges. He was at Texas A&M with Billy Gillispie, Tennessee with Bruce Pearl and Wichita State with Gregg Marshall. Forbes has been a member of some fantastic coaching staffs, even if they’ve been a little loose with the rules. And he’s parlayed that into the job at East Tennessee State.
East Tennessee State, the Buccaneers (representing all the pirates of Appalachian Tennessee I guess?), has a pretty good history with a school winning percentage of .532. They’re accustomed to winning, but only one other time in the short history of KenPom has ETSU been in the top 100 and that is where they are now. The 60th rated Bucs beat Mississippi State this year, and have topped Matt McCall’s Chattanooga team twice. They’re 12-3 in what has amounted to be a VERY difficult SoCon league.
I don’t know that Forbes is a realistic option for a place like Missouri, but a lower level job that would open up because of Missouri he could jump into. Either way it’s easy to see Forbes star on a bit of a rise.
I could get talked into each of these guys, but none of them really excite me. Musselman would probably be the safest hire, his experience in the NBA and at the power conference level as an assistant would place him at the top of a lot of lists. His lack of longevity at any of his stops would be an area of concern if you’re wanting somebody who might stick around a while. Plus he’s spent the majority of his career on the west coast, so a better fit is probably had out west.
I’d be surprised if Davis left MTSU, he seems to be happy there, he’s been there a while and there’s safety and security after a tumultuous beginning to his career. McCall is so young, so so young.
Forbes is a wildcard. He ticks off a lot of boxes, but it’s a big jump from the SoCon to the SEC.
I’ll state again, I don’t think any of these guys are Missouri’s target because I think Sterk is going to target a sitting high major coach. Still, these four are going to be up for a lot of jobs and soon.