Dayton’s Next Coach
So Flyer Fans, Brian Gregory is finally gone. We’ve been thinking that this would come for some time, and many of us this season finally were fed up with BG and his so-called “system.” BG’s supporters often pointed to our fantastic record against the Big East and multiple 20 win seasons. However, during his tenure the team struggled to break .500 in the A-10, made only two NCAA tournaments (one with Oliver Purnell’s team), and failed to make the NIT a few times. While I don’t feel that UD’s fans expect to win National Championships, they do expect to challenge for A-10 titles, compete with X and Temple, and make the NCAA’s on a regular basis. So after years of watching the weave offense stumble around the perimeter, seeing a lack of inside post presence, and point guards who have no shooting capabilities whatsoever, UD has the opportunity to hit the reset button. Who will we get?
Wishful Thinking – Not A Chance
Anthony Grant, Alabama Head Coach – If this was two years ago, Grant would be the clear front runner for the UD job. But UD headed to the second round of the NCAA’s that year and Grant took the job at Alabama after leading VCU to three straight CAA titles. Grant starred at Dayton, taking them to the Elite Eight as a player. But after taking Alabama to a 12-4 SEC record this year and the semifinals of the NIT tournament, he has the program on the rise. You’re telling me he’s going to leave a BCS program on the rise to rebuild his alma mater that he hasn’t had relations with since 1987? Please. Not a chance he leaves Bama to come home.
Shaka Smart, VCU Head Coach – Many people want Smart or Larranaga to leave their posts at CAA institutions. But tell me, why would they? The CAA has sent two teams to the Final Four in the last five years and has been receiving multiple bids regularly. How exactly is the A-10 a step up from the CAA? Reputation only. Some UD fans point to Smart’s experience at Dayton, but he was only the Director of Basketball Operations for three years. That doesn’t scream “I have a love in my heart for Dayton” to me. He’s not going to leave a school with five years of established success and a Final Four appearance to rebuild a program that’s had a less successful run.
Jim Larranaga, George Mason Head Coach – Larranaga stayed at George Mason after leading them to a Final Four in 2006. It seems he wants to stay there forever. Why would he leave for Dayton when he’s had more success at George Mason over the past five years than Dayton’s had in the last twenty?
Could Work, But Do We Want Him?
Billy Schmidt, UD Assistant Coach – Pros: Keeping Schmidt may keep UD’s top two recruits (LaDontae Henson and Percy Gibson) from leaving, great recruiter, keeps stability in the UD program. Cons: Served under BG for the last few years, keeps stability in the UD program. My thoughts tend to waver on the side that just because he served under BG gives no indication that he will run the program like BG. He was an employee, not the boss. Xavier and Butler have had success churning through top assistants when head coaches leave, so why can’t UD do the same? If Schmidt will just run the damn weave offense and keep the program middling for A-10 respect, I don’t want him. But if he changes the attitude that comes with being a Flyer, keeps recruiting hard, implants a real offense into the system, and keeps the defensive mentality that BG instilled in the program, he may be our guy.
Pat Knight, Ex-Texas Tech Head Coach – I actually tend to think that this could be a great hire. Pat was under a massive amount of pressure by stepping into a BCS program by following in his father’s shadow. No one wants that kind of pressure. He has a 50-61 head coaching record, but Texas Tech is a traditional bottom dweller in the Big 12 (with the exception of his dad’s years at the helm). Maybe he needs a fresh start, and where better than in his home area of the Midwest, and has to have great recruiting ties to the area. UD needs a fresh start, and so does Pat Knight. It could be a match made in heaven.
Love The Idea, But Probably Not Happening
Paul Hewitt, Ex-Georgia Tech Coach. I know, I know, the ol’ coaches swap. But look at it. Hewitt wore out his welcome at Georgia Tech, but he had limited success there taking the team to the 2004 NCAA Championship game. Coaching the tough ACC, Hewitt never seemed to work out long-term, but I like his style of coaching for our program. He runs a high octane offense with an emphasis on guard play, and loves to press. That style of play suits our players’ skill sets, and may help to ease the transition into the future. I would like to see him get a shot, but I don’t know if UD wants to hire the guy BG is following.
Bruce Pearl, Ex-Tennessee Coach – Some people are skeptical of coaches with troubled pasts, but I believe in second chances. Pearl is obviously a fantastic coach, bringing a Tennessee program from obscurity in the SEC into an annual national title contender. For me, the problem hinges on whether Pearl’s transgressions could result in discipline for Dayton (ala the Kelvin Sampson situation at Indiana). If so, I don’t want him. If not, I say give the guy a chance to build back his reputation by bringing some national attention to the UD program. But something tells me that UD’s priority on bringing in upstanding players and coaches will prevent this from going anywhere.
Rick Byrd, Belmont Head Coach – Belmont’s had some success the last few years under Rick Byrd’s helm, with four NCAA appearances in the last six years. He runs a high-octane offense that shoots a lot of threes, so Chris Johnson, Paul Williams, Josh Parker, and Kevin Dillard will love playing for him. But he’s not leaving Belmont. He’s 57 years old, and has been at Belmont since 1986. He grew up in Tennessee, and I just don’t see any reason (other than his and UD’s religious affiliations) for him to uproot after all that time.
Hate The Idea, And I’ll Be Pissed If It Happens
Bobby Knight, ESPN Analyst – Look, a lot of Flyer fans are pushing Bobby Knight, but why? Sure, he’s one of the greatest coaches of all time, but he would be a temporary solution. He’s too old. And what’s his incentive? UD is a great place to play and coach, but why would a guy with the resume of Bobby come to take over a rebuilding process? He won’t. So forget about it Flyer Fans, Bobby Knight will not be coaching the Red and Blue next year.
The Stop-Gap Solutions – Gone in Three Years
Jeff Capel, Ex-Oklahoma Head Coach – Fired after two consecutive losing seasons at Oklahoma, Capel may be a fantastic solution to the UD coaching quandary. He took Oklahoma to 2 NCAA appearances and an Elite Eight after a successful run at VCU (3rd coach on this list with VCU experience). He has a 61.4 winning percentage, but considering Capel’s reputation as one of the hottest names out there, any semblance of success at UD could see him leave for greener pastures. It’s obvious he can recruit, having gotten Blake Griffin to play for him, as well as McDonald’s All-American Willie Warren. While Capel may be a hot name that could bring short term success to Dayton, the question is whether we want a Mark Few/Brad Stevens long term solution.
Sydney Johnson, Princeton Head Coach – Having coached at Princeton since 2007, a step up to the Atlantic 10 seems to be a logical next move for the coach. I question his desire to leave the East Coast as he grew up in Baltimore, played at Princeton, and assisted at Georgetown. He took the Tigers from a 6-23 record to a 25-7 team that almost beat Final Four participant Kentucky in this year’s NCAA’s. He runs the always dangerous Princeton offense, and the back door cuts and slick passes could fit the athletic, jumping Flyers we have left on board. I like this hire, but if he takes the move to the Midwest he’ll probably be gone within a few years to a BCS program.
Realistic Candidates, And May Stay Awhile
Blaine Taylor, Old Dominion Head Coach – This guy has an established reputation as a solid coach at the NCAA level, taking ODU to a 215-110 record over the past 10 seasons. He only makes $212,000 at ODU, so UD could offer him a substantial increase in salary. Seeing ODU play a few times this year, I really like the hard nosed, defensive type of basketball that they play, and would love to see UD transition to that type of play. But since he’s 52 and has been at ODU for 10 years, there has to be concerns over whether or not he would leave a very comfortable situation.
Dan Hurley, Wagner Head Coach – Bear with me here. This could be the golden ticket hire to success that UD is looking for. Hurley made the jump to D1 last year at Wagner College, and led the team to a 13-17 record. But looking a little deeper, some things stand out. Dan is the son of legendary high school coach Bob Hurley, and is the brother of NCAA legend Bobby Hurley, who coincidentally serves as Dan’s assistant coach. Having Bobby Hurley on your staff helps with notoriety and recruiting, and Dan obviously knows the X’s and O’s of college basketball with a pedigree like his. Dan is a young coach with a long career ahead of him, and if his background is any indication, loyalty is something that he holds near and dear to his heart. If UD could pry him away, Hurley may be a great hire now and well into the future.
Dark Horse Candidate
Steve Wojciechowski, Duke Assistant Coach – I hated this guy when he played for Duke, but I think he could be a hell of a coach. He’s studied under Coach K for 11 years now, and seems to be the frontrunner to take over the Duke program after Coach K retires. But in the off chance that Wojo wants to take a head coaching job and then wait for the Duke job to open, why not Dayton? He was intense as a player, and likely is as a head coach and recruiter. I would love to see this guy on Dayton’s sideline, even if it would be temporary until Coach K’s retirement. Tim Wabler would serve well to see if he would even interview.
Damon Goodwin, Capital University Head Coach – While Goodwin played at UD and has ties to the Dayton program, I don’t want to see UD hire a Division III head coach to helm to Flyers. His record is impressive, but if UD hires him, the program could be in for a rough few years.
I have no clue. Many of these people are great selections, and I think the best option listed above is Anthony Grant. But since I don’t believe he’s coming, I think that the most sense for right now as a realistic option may be Jeff Capel. If not him, then I’d love to see UD give Pat Knight a shot to start a program from scratch outside of his father’s shadow. Here’s hoping that UD makes a good hire and gets the program back on the right track.