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ESPN: Wake Forest Canning Manning

And the first major search in the pandemic is on!

Wake Forest v Notre Dame
 SOUTH BEND, INDIANA - JANUARY 29: Head coach Danny Manning of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons talks to an official in game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion on January 29, 2020 in South Bend, Indiana.
Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to ESPN, Danny Manning is toast at Wake Forest. Jeff Goodman had the story first.

He’s been there for six years with minimal success and no signs that things will improve. However, given the pandemic we’re all dealing with, it began to look like Wake Forest, like a lot of schools, had decided to just not bother with replacing their coach.

The timing is a bit odd. They could have easily fired him right after the season ended. This suggests that they already have a replacement in mind and perhaps the time in between the end of the season and now was a longer-than-normal search required by the virus which limited travel and has affected budgets (Louisville has laid off or furloughed workers, for example). Or it could be the large buyout Manning has, reportedly $15 million.

Whatever the obstacles were, Wake appears to have surmounted them and has made a move. Which leads to the question: who’s next? Could they have negotiated with UNC-Greensboro’s Wes Miller, who after all is only a few miles away? Or does AD John Currie have someone else in mind?

As we have mentioned before, Currie, who bears a slight resemblance to actor Jon Hamm from the show Mad Men, was at Tennessee when the fiasco over hiring football coach Greg Schiano cost him his job. Only an idiot would not have learned from such a traumatic experience so we’re sure Currie has proceeded quite carefully.

Another guy to keep an eye on is Pat Kelsey, who checks a lot of the boxes: he’s successful (163-93), he’s young, and unlike Manning, fairly charismatic.

East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes has also come up as a possibility. On Twitter, Goodman mentions Miller, Kelsey Forbes and Ryan Odom, who of course is the son of former Wake coach Dave Odom. John Beilein is probably ready to do something too and it’s not like jobs are growing on trees right now.

Our favorite is still Ben McCollum of Northwest Missouri State. He’s done a brilliant job at the D-II school, might’ve won another national championship this year had things been different and as it was, finished 31-1. He’s lost five games in the last four years and two national championships in the last three years.

And he’s just 39.

Whoever hires him in D-1 is going to be very happy.

Update - Evan Daniels reports that Wake Forest is using the search firm Ventura Partners, which means that they are probably pretty close on a replacement.