With a couple of jobs left to be filled – Tennessee and Missouri most notably – the coaching carousel is all but over already for the 2014 offseason. As is the case every year, some coaches and programs really helped themselves, while some made decisions that makes one scratch their head.
Cuonzo Martin (Tennessee —> Cal)
Martin left Tennessee, which was apparently a pretty toxic situation for him, for Cal, a team that should have a good shot at an NCAA tournament bid next season, and might even sneak up to 3rd or so in the Pac 12. The big issue for Martin is going to be whether he can recruit the West Coast, and because of its academics Cal isn’t the easiest place to recruit to, but regardless of anything else he got out of a situation in which he was seemingly undercut by the fanbase and boosters at every available turn and now gets some money and a longer term contract on top of it.
Manhattan (retained Steve Masiello)
But for his resume snafu, Masiello would be the head coach at South Florida right now. Instead, Manhattan gets to hang onto a guy who is still one of the hottest young coaches in the business, and probably doesn’t have to worry about another school coming for him for at least a couple years. The Jaspers have to replace their three best players, so a return to the NCAA tournament probably isn’t in the cards, but if Masiello can overcome this blip recruiting-wise, Manhattan can get back to being a perennial MAAC contender.
Wake Forest (hired Danny Manning)
I outlined it more in our standalone post about the hire, but I love Manning’s potential as a coach. He should be able to recruit guys to Winston-Salem, and his track record of developing big guys is unimpeachable. He obviously doesn’t have a lot of head coaching experience, but neither does Kevin Ollie, and Manning strikes me as the type of player that kids would love to play for. If nothing else, telling kids how he won a national championship and was the #1 pick in the NBA Draft wouldn’t hurt.
Frank Haith (Missouri ——> Tulsa)
So Frank Haith won zero NCAA tournament games at Missouri, saw fan support go from raucous to basically nothing, and got a raise and a long term contract from a place that publicly said they wanted a coach that had a record of complying with NCAA rules? Huh? Guy must have the best agent of all time.
Ohio (hired Saul Phillips)
Saul Phillips took over for Tim Miles when the former left for Colorado State, and this year he got the Bison back to the NCAA tournament and led them to an upset of Oklahoma in the first round. Phillips seems to follow the strategy of getting a good recruiting class and building towards success in their Senior year, as evidenced by NDSU’s two most recent tournament teams, but any man who can recruit kids to Fargo deserves a medal.
Virginia Tech (hired Buzz Williams)
I personally think, and have thought for awhile, that Buzz is a borderline top 10 coach in the country. He’s made absolute nobodies into college stars, and has taken below average teams and made them near elite, especially on offense. He doesn’t have a ton of March success, but that is due to the nature of the NCAA tournament, not due to anything Buzz has done or hasn’t done. Quite frankly, he’s too good for the Va Tech job.
Tulsa (hired Frank Haith)
The biggest loser in this round. Haith couldn’t win at Miami even while cheating, won zero tournament games at Missouri, doesn’t know what network his new program has a TV deal with, and got a raise. That is astounding. I guess Tulsa was sick of better programs coming in and hiring their coaches away, because there’s no chance that happens this time.
Marquette (hired Steve Wojciechowski)
His name alone should help in the immediate months after his hiring, but multiple recruits have already decommitted, and I’m not sure if Wojo is ready to go from being the guy who Coach K forces to do the halftime interviews to a head coach at Marquette. Shaka Smart didn’t happen, but they went from having a shot at him, Ben Howland, maybe Archie Miller, to Wojo. That might sting in a few years.
Jim Christian (Ohio —–> Boston College)
With the number of players leaving (though Olivier Hanlan is staying) and the disaster that program has been lately, I’m not sure why anyone would want to touch that job. After winning 49 games in two years at Ohio, Christian was probably an NCAA tournament appearance away from a really good job. Regardless of how good of a coach you think he is or isn’t, it’s tough to see him lasting longer than 5 years at BC.
Florida Atlantic (hired Michael Curry)
I don’t love hiring failed NBA coaches who have never coached in college before, but Curry did take the Pistons to the playoffs, so that’s something. Curry was also the VP of player development for the NBA. Props to Florida Atlantic for thinking outside the box, and I doubt they could have gotten anyone too much better than Curry, I just don’t know how he will adapt to the college game, especially in a place as hard to recruit to as Florida Atlantic.