The angry fans at N.C. State have gotten their pound of flesh as Herb Sendek
has taken the Arizona State job, but now the question has to be: who's
The buzz about Sendek among coaches has been, pretty basically, who needs
it? Meaning the fans, that is.
State should be a great job. It's in the nation's best conference, it
is in the Triangle, the epicenter of the nation's best conference
There are two coaches who would be logical picks who you can probably rule
out right now: Rick Barnes and Kelvin Sampson. Sampson, a native of
the state, just took the Indiana job, so he's not going anywhere. And
Barnes is a close friend of Sendek's and has gone on record as saying the fans
are basically nuts and an issue for anyone who coaches here now.
Getting a big-time coach who is doing well at his school is probably
unrealistic. So guys like Jay Wright or John Calipari - they have great
situations where they are, and State has a bit of a red flag (no pun intended),
so why move?
Getting someone who is an established coach from a power conference who may
be unhappy in his current job is a possibility. Bob Knight's name popped
up at Virginia briefly. He might not like competing against Coach K, and
he is not far from retirement, but it would be fun to watch him take on the
Another path is getting someone who has been out of the loop for awhile -
Rick Majerus, Mike Montgomery, or P.J. Carlesimo, or, conceivably, Bobby Cremins.
And the traditional ACC path is to find someone who is moving up rapidly
through the ranks, a strategy which has landed young coaches like Krzyzewski,
Cremins, and Valvano. It's been a great basic plan for years, and the
teams in our conference have done well by it.
Somewhat complicating the process is the fact that many of the same people
who essentially ran Sendek out of town - congratulations, guys, mission
accomplished! - have also vilified A.D. Lee Fowler (and his predecessor as well,
come to think of it), and will question his every move.
Also at issue here is State's very commendable insistence on ethics.
Somewhat misplaced between, oh, 1954 and the end of the Valvano era, ethical
behavior has been taken up at N.C. State, and recruiting and academics are
entirely on the up and up.
In fact, that may be Sendek's legacy at State, either way: he was
absolutely honest and above-board. It may turn out that State insists on
that, or it may turn out that Lee Fowler figures he better protect his own neck
and hire someone who will win, and if they cut corners, too bad.
Take a guy like Karl Hobbs. He has done well at George Washington, but
his recruiting has come under some scrutiny lately, since some of his guys were
apparently less than perfectly qualified.
Anyway, here are a list of potential names you may see pop up:
- Karl Hobbs, GW
- Jon Pelphrey, USA
- Derek Whittenburg, Fordham
- Sidney Lowe
- P.J. Carlesimo
- Nate McMillan, Seattle Supersonics
- Mike Montgomery, Golden State
- Bob Knight, Texas Tech
- Bob McKillop, Davidson
- Bobby Gonzalez, Manhattan
- Mark Turgeon, Wichita State
- John Beilein, West Virginia
There are problems with most of them. Hobbs and Knight we've
mentioned. Whittenburg has bobbed along at a lower level with some
success, but nothing overwhelming. McMillan, Montgomery, and probably Knight
would take significant paycuts. Turgeon is not yet a proven coach, despite
his success this season. And while Beileien would be a catch, and has five
seniors moving on, his contract has a $3 million dollar buyout. Plus his
offense would seem unhappily familiar.
Bob McKillop would do a great job at State. He is also looking at Seton
Hall. Bobby Gonzalez is a rising star, but he misled Miami when he
interviewed there. Would State care?