Is this going to be an annual thing now? Has the coaching culture in men's college basketball reached a point where searching can and will last until May? Unlikely. It's not often a to-be Hall of Fame coach chooses to surprisingly retire so late into the offseason.
Nevertheless, Gary Williams' departure has given college basketball offseason talk a lot of legs and lined up the dominoes in coaching circles across the country. Texas A&M is now a BCS-level job that is there for the taking thanks to Mark Turgeon (right) deciding to leave College Station for College Park.
So let's talk candidates. That's the next step, of course. The Aggies job isn't as good as the Maryland one (obviously; after all, Turgeon left), but it still is a fairly decent Big 12 gig. Location is an issue, and A&M is going to have to chase a guy it can give a significant raise to -- they do have some money to do this -- and lure away from a mid-major program that's in a good situation. It's not going to be easy, and I suspect the hiring process will take longer than Maryland's, which lasted all of five days, start to finish.
A&M brass isn't in the position to pluck a coach from another major conference, in my opinion. Marquette's Buzz Williams' name has been thrown out there, but he signed on for more years and money in Milwaukee six weeks ago. Williams is a Texas guy; that's the only reason he's being tossed into this discussion. I'll remove him until evidence shows he's willing to listen.
And forget Josh Pastner. Don't know when or how his name came up, but there's zero chance that guy leaves Memphis to coach in College Station. So, a list of five prospective are below, and I'll add that it's likely/possible a number of guys I don't have here could enter. There's a wide range of possibilities for this job and it could get very fluid.
- Stew Morrill. Coaches a different kind of Aggie. The Utah State poo-bah could get hired for the same reason Turgeon did at Maryland: copious amounts of winning, even if that hasn't led to success in the NCAAs. Morrill has won consistently but is a fairly stubborn man. He's not prone to challenge his team, schedule-wise, because he hasn't been able to get big boys to come play in Logan. Ironic but true: If he were to take the job he wouldn't come anywhere close to the homecourt advantage he and his Utah State team currently inherit.
- Johnny Jones. The North Texas coach is more than a dark horse, even if you're not that familiar with his work. The man has won 20 more or more games the past five years and knows the Texas recruiting scene. If they want to stay local, this is a good option.
- Scott Spinelli. Who? He's the associated head coach at A&M and has done a solid job recruiting since Turgeon took over for Billy Gillispie in 2007. An in-house hire wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing. In my opinion, Spinelli's the only non-head-coach candidate A&M should consider.
- Gregg Marshall. This man is most intriguing because many in the business -- coaching and media, both -- believe Marshall's bound for a BCS job in the next two years. Could it be the next two weeks? Marshall was considered for Tennessee earlier this year. The unfortunate coincidence here: Marshall coaches at Wichita State, where A&M plucked Turgeon four years ago. The Shockers may get pilfered again.
- Fran Fraschilla. His name didn't even flicker in my mind originally, but a few on Twitter brought him up -- and I love the possibility. The ESPN analyst is a terrific X-and-O coach who deserves another chance, one last one. He's been a coach at New Mexico, Manhattan and St. John's, but Texas is the state he calls home. It's all about him wanting and desiring to coach the college game again. He's quite comfortable in his chair at the Worldwide Leader.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE