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Turgeon Out At Maryland, Danny Manning The Interim, And Who Will Get The Job?

A sudden and shocking exit opens up a major job, and it’s barely December

Tulsa v Maryland
Mark Turgeon has always looked up to Danny Manning

It’s been clear for a long time that Maryland and Mark Turgeon were a bad match and the fans have been frustrated for some time. After losing to Virginia Tech this week, the fans booed and chanted ‘fire Turgeon!”

And maybe he had just had enough.

Gary Williams was a great match for the Maryland fans because he was just as boorish as most of them and never hesitated to tell anyone, even his boss Kay Yow, to kiss off. They loved him for that.

Turgeon, by all accounts we’ve seen Friday, is a very decent man and not nearly as demonstrative as Williams was. In the end, John Feinstein suggests that he was just tired of it, tired of the fans and the relentless pressure, and decided, more or less, to see what it would be like to be happy again.

Now the punch line.

We’ve always respected Danny Manning as a player and as a man but his natural reserve has made it hard for him to be successful as a head coach. He was an excellent assistant, perhaps because his introverted nature works better in one-on-one situations where he can mentor young big men. And he’s really had a lot of success doing that.

But when it comes to leading a group? He did well as a player at Kansas. As Tulsa’s head coach, he was ok, posting a 17-16 and 21-13 seasons before moving on to Wake Forest.

And at Wake, we thought he ran into his limits as a coach. He is by nature quiet and reticent and teams tend to take on their coach’s personality. He wasn’t as hated as his predecessor Jeff Bzdelik - we’ve honestly never seen a fan base get uglier towards a coach - but he wasn’t much more effective.

In his piece on Turgeon’s departure, Feinstein suggests that Manning could earn the job if he finishes the season well.

To which we say: did he pay any attention to Manning at Wake Forest?

And if he thought Turgeon had trouble with the Maryland fans, what’s it going to be like for Manning, who is far more introverted and sensitive than Turgeon ever thought about being?

It’s possible that the worst thing that could happen would be for Manning to do well this year with a fairly talented roster and then to revert to his Wake Forest mode.

They’ll rip him to pieces. We’ve been critical of his coaching but not of his fundamental decency. It’d be a terrible situation.

And needless to say, it won’t make a great impression on whoever the next coach will be.

Speaking of that, they’ll certainly draw interest. Lots of coaches will want that job. When Lefty Driesell said it would be the UCLA of the East...well it could be. Still. John Thompson came close at Georgetown and Maryland, in many ways, is an easier job. You can recruit from your car because there is so much talent within 50 miles of campus. It’s the greatest talent bed in the US. The right coach at Maryland will just kill.

Rick Pitino’s name has already been tossed out but we can’t see it. We think he’s sincere when he says he’s sick of the big time circus and a Catholic school is a good home for him near the end of his career. Plus he’s shown that he can do it from there. Why not stay?

So who else?

Nate Oats has popped up. St. Bonnie’s Mark Schmidt? Maybe. But he's almost 60 and that imposes a hard limit on how long he might stay. Andy Enfield’s name has come up too and he’s bound to be intriguing. Mark Pope of BYU has as well.

George Mason’s Kim English is a very new head coach - just eight games in - but he beat Maryland.

He’s also young, Black and a native of Baltimore. Our guess is that he’d be an absolutely devastating recruiter at Maryland. He might lock Baltimore up. As for experience, he can hire an elder statesman/mentor like Juwan Howard did at Michigan with Phil Martelli. There are plenty of guys out there who wouldn’t mind a few more years in the game who could help him establish himself.

Juan Dixon’s a possibility too but he’s just not done well at Coppin State, winning less than 30 percent of his games.

But there is one other name that hasn’t popped up and almost certainly won’t because his fall was too dreadful. Rick Pitino at least has a job now. But Gregg Marshall?

That’s a tough one.

He did it to himself but as far as Maryland is concerned, it’s too bad. The pre-scandal Marshall - as we knew him - would have been a great fit for the job. He’s as combative as Williams was and probably a better game coach.

But he’s an execrable human being and his wife presents challenges of her own.

If all the negatives could somehow go away though, that guy would kill it in College Park. And they’d love him to the moon and back.