As you may have seen this week, the rumor mill connected Rick Pitino to the Maryland job and it didn’t take long for him to shoot that down, which leaves Maryland in an awkward spot: they’re not able to spend big money to lure, say, Nate Oats or Eric Musselman and clearly they think they should be able to.
After Mark Turgeon left in the middle of the season, the general sentiment was that of course Maryland could find a great coach. There’s a dawning realization though that it’s going to be tougher than it looks - and that might go for Louisville in their job search too.
Louisville has other complications though, not least of all a horrible series of scandals and an interim AD and president.
Our go-to candidate is Ben McCollum, who has done an incredible job at D-II Northeast Missouri State but Maryland might not be a good fit for him and who knows if he’d be willing to embrace the circus that is Louisville.
The candidates we’ve seen listed for the Terps are either delusional (Pitino, who has publicly said no, and Oats) or long shots. Among those is Mike Brey.
Ten years ago, we think he would have been ideal. Now though, he’s 62 and starting over might not be appealing even if it is home.
Others we’ve seen mentioned include Wes Miller, Andy Enfield, Ed Cooley, Jim English (George Mason), John Beilein, Thad Matta and Leonard Hamilton.
Hamilton is now 74.
A resourceful AD would start looking at younger coaches including perhaps assistants. We’d make McCollum say no first, then move down the line. We can’t imagine he’d take it and it’s too soon anyway, but Nolan Smith is going to be a devastating coach. Drew Valentine is 25-7 in his first season at Loyola of Chicago and has a brilliant reputation. He’s also just 30. Or you could go after someone like Pat Kelsey.
Kelsey spent nine years at Winthrop and won every year except his first. Now at Charleston, he’s a reasonable candidate to move up.
But he’s not the only one.
Eric Henderson has done a brilliant job at South Dakota State. He inherited a strong program from TJ Otzelberger, who left a strong program. Henderson has gone 22-10, 16-7 in the Covid year and 27-4 this year. He looks pretty good.
Anthony Grant was great at VCU, not so great at Alabama and very good at Dayton. He’s a guy to look at at the least.
But the guy who might deserve the longest look?
Murray State’s Matt McMahon.
Obviously he had two years with Ja Morant but over the past four years (we’re tossing out the Covid year here) he’s averaged nearly 27 wins per season including 30 wins so far this year.
Winning at a major conference school is, in a sense, relatively easy. Winning consistently at a place like Murray State is not. So we’d absolutely put him on the list.