Breaking down all the coaching changes

Breaking down all the coaching changes

Breaking down all the coaching changes
Jeff Goodman /

With almost all of the jobs filled, we're going to take a look at who nailed it — and who came up short — in the 48 Division I coaching vacancies that transpired this year.

Some guys went home, some landed on their feet quickly and others showed us that a DUI on your record really isn't that big of a deal.

Something else we learned is that is pays to have a relationship with Louisville coach Rick Pitino, who seems to have more "juice" in getting guys jobs than anyone else around.

BEST HIGH-MAJOR HIRE: It's hard to argue with Minnesota being fortunate to land Tubby Smith. It may not have worked out for Tubby at Kentucky, but he'll have the Golden Gophers competitive again in the Big Ten before too long. It's a terrific fit because Smith will be able to get most of the same type of players to Minnesota that he brought to Kentucky. Plus, fans in Minnesota actually want Smith around and won't get too upset if he doesn't go to the Final Four every other year.

BEST HIGH-MAJOR HIRE (RUNNER-UP): When John Beilein left for Michigan, it appeared as though the program at West Virginia was going to take a significant hit. Well, there will be changes, but one thing will remain the same — the Mountaineers will still be competitive in the Big East. Bob Huggins returned home to West Virginia after one year at Kansas State and he'll have no problem bringing in talent.

WORST HIRE: This is always a tough one to pick, but how do you go with Steve Alford over Gregg Marshall at New Mexico? Alford was basically run out of Iowa after two first-round tourney exits and failing even to get to the tournament this season, all while displaying a personality that clearly rubbed many the wrong way. All Marshall has done is lead Winthrop to the Big Dance seven of the last nine years.

MOST INTRIGUING HIRE: Can Beilein recruit in Detroit? That's a question we've heard quite a bit since he opted to leave West Virginia and take the Michigan job. The bottom line is that Beilein was successful in the Big East with a bunch of under-the-radar kids. Kids in Michigan want to play in Ann Arbor. Beilein will be able to get in-state players and also skilled kids from around the country that are more ready-made than the ones he got to come to Morgantown. If he can succeed in the Big East at West Virginia, I think he'll be more than fine in the Big Ten at Michigan.

HIRE PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY ARE QUESTIONING MOST: The decision of Kansas State to hire Huggins' assistant Frank Martin and also promote Delonte Hill to the associate head coach. Martin and Hill will make sure that everyone stays in Manhattan and that incoming freshman Michael Beasley arrives on campus. According to various sources, Hill got a multi-year deal worth in excess of $1 million — which is unreal for an assistant coach.

BEST MID-MAJOR HIRE: We're going with a tie on this one. A year ago in this space, we deemed Florida assistant Anthony Grant as the best hire of the off-season and now we're giving it to another Billy Donovan aide, Donnie Jones, who was hired at Marshall. Jones is a rising star and is from West Virginia. Jones shares the honor with ex-UConn assistant Tom Moore, who moves down the road and takes over at Quinnipiac. Moore has proven himself as one of the top recruiters in the nation and has a new venue to take advantage of.

TOUGHEST JOB TO FILL: St. Bonaventure was rejected — over and over. Vermont's Mike Lonergan, Eastern Kentucky's Jeff Neubauer and Albany's Will Brown passed on the job. And they weren't the only ones, either. Finally, Bonnies athletic director Steve Watson was able to lure Robert Morris coach Mark Schmidt and his 82-90 record to Olean. South Florida was a close second.

LUCKY BREAK: John Pelphrey will admit it. He wasn't the Razorbacks' first, second or even third choice — but the former South Alabama coach got the gig after Billy Gillispie declined and Dana Altman had a change of heart after being introduced at a news conference. Pelphrey takes over a team loaded with talent and experience. In fact, it's a team that could win the SEC West this year.

BEST WAY TO GET A JOB: Billy Gillispie was hired at Kentucky despite a pair of DUIs. Kevin Willard got the Iona gig after being arrested for a DUI a few years back. Huggins also has one DUI on his resume. What does all this mean? I'm not really sure.

RECIRCULATING: It didn't take long for guys who had been fired to land on their feet and get new jobs. Bowling Green coach Louis Orr was out for a year after being fired at Seton Hall a year ago. Tommy Amaker (Harvard), Ritchie McKay (Liberty), Dan Monson (Long Beach State), Ricardo Patton (Northern Illinois) and Stan Heath (South Florida) all bounced back quickly.

SHORT END OF THE STICK: Gregg Marshall. What more does the Winthrop head coach have to prove? He's been a mainstay in the NCAA tournament and even knocked off Notre Dame in the first round this year. He was in the mix at several places (New Mexico, Arkansas), but was passed over. Maybe he needs to go work for Rick Pitino for a year.

BIGGEST LOSER: Bill Walker. The talented Kansas State freshman went to Manhattan because of Bob Huggins and now, after tearing his ACL just six games into his career, Huggins is in West Virginia and Walker is stuck at K-State. If he transfers, he has to sit out an entire season. He'll stay and go to the NBA after next season.

BEST CREDENTIALS: It's hard to argue with Radford's hire of Brad Greenberg. He was, at one time, the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers and has helped his brother, Seth, turn the Virginia Tech program around. Brad won't even have to move as Radford is a short drive from Blacksburg.

MOST DIFFICULT DECISION: Bill Grier had it written into his contract that he's the next coach at Gonzaga — if and when Mark Few leaves. Grier was torn, but ended up taking the San Diego job — which is an indication that Few isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

SMARTEST MOVE: Billy Gillispie, who basically used Arkansas to have the choice of either A) Getting more money out of Texas A&M or B) Getting in the mix for the Kentucky job. Gillispie chose the latter after basically agreeing to the former. Good businessman.

DUMBEST MOVE BY AN AD: Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart, who didn't make a move to try and get Tom Izzo after being rejected by Billy Donovan and Rick Barnes. No offense to Gillispie, but just check out Izzo's track record — especially when it matters. Izzo is a future Hall of Famer. Despite his success with the Aggies, Gillispie is still largely unproven.

WORST RUMORS: There were plenty. Bill Self to Arkansas. Alabama's Mark Gottfried to South Florida. Duquesne coach Ron Everhart leaving to become the associate head coach for Bob Huggins at West Virginia. Rick Majerus, Steve Lavin and Fran Fraschilla to just about anywhere and everywhere.

BEST MOVE TO SIT TIGHT: A three-way tie between VCU's Anthony Grant, Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery and Washington State's Tony Bennett. When Billy Donovan leaves eventually for the NBA (which he will), Grant should be his replacement. He is already a star in the profession after just one season at the helm. Grant knows better opportunities will come along, whether it's in Gainesville or somewhere else. Lowery should have been someone's primary target, but he wasn't so he went ahead and signed a seven-year deal worth more than $5 million in total to remain in Carbondale. Bennett has nearly his entire team coming back in Pullman next season and will have plenty of opportunities next April.

CHA-CHING: How long will it take for Georgetown's John Thompson III to get a hefty raise? JT III made $500,000 this season and is vastly underpaid compared to his peers. That number should be more than doubled by the time next season begins.

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