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Will Wyking Jones replace old boss Cuonzo Martin at Cal?

Who replaces Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin, now that he's officially resigned? We've got the top candidates.

With news on Wednesday that Cuonzo Martin has resigned at California, we take a look at the top candidates to replace him, starting with a few familiar names.

UPDATE: 9:50 a.m., March 17: I'm told that, given the hiring of Carol Christ as the new chancellor, it's highly unlikely that Cal spends big on this hire. It's likely to be a cheaper option, so less annual outlay than Martin's $1.84m per year salary. I've also been told that this will be a relatively quick search, but it will be constrained by the NCAA Tournament. It will get done, I'm told, as quickly as it can get done, given teams still alive in the postseason.

CAL BASKETBALL COACHING HOT BOARD

Neville E. Guard / USA TODAY Sports

Wyking Jones | Cal Interim Head Coach

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Why Jones is a Candidate 

Jones has been a tireless recruiter for the Bears during his short, two-year stint in Berkeley. He's also versatile, able to coach both guards and big men, and is a master when it comes to coaching technique on the floor. He's an engaging personality, a very good recruiter and has an eye for talent. Beyond that, he coached under Rick Pitino for four seasons at Louisville, during which the Cardinals went 123-30, reached one NCAA title game and two Final Fours. If there are X's and O's to be drawn, he has the requisite background.

He's an Inglewood, Calif., native, played at Loyola Marymount, coached at Pepperdine and New Mexico, has a lot of pull with West Coast high school and AAU coaches (he was on staff at the NIKE EYBL for two years) and is already familiar with the current roster and signees. With the Nike EYBL circuit, where he spent two years as a basketball travel team manager, managing 45 travel teams and the tournaments that Nike sponsored in its grassroots youth program. 

He'd be a relatively safe choice, but still a good one. Plus, how many college basketball head coaches can say they have an IMDB page?

During his time on the Cardinals’ coaching staff, Louisville sported a combined record of 123-30. The Cardinals won the 2013 NCAA Championship and reached two Final Fours over the past four seasons. Louisville completed the 2014-15 season with a 27-9 record, reaching the NCAA Tournament regional final. 

Prior to joining Pitino, Jones served two seasons on the coaching staff at New Mexico where the Lobos won 52 games combined during his tenure, including a school-record 30-win campaign in 2010. New Mexico finished the 2010 season ranked eighth in the Associated Press national poll. 

Jones served as an assistant coach for five seasons from 2002-06 at Pepperdine, where he was the Waves’ recruiting coordinator. He got his start in coaching at his alma mater, Loyola Marymount, during the 1996-97 season. 

Jones himself was a standout at LMU from 1991-95 under head coach John Olive, where his 1,076 career points rank 24th all-time in the program’s history. Jones also collected 493 career rebounds during his career with the Lions. He was a two-time All-West Coast Conference selection, highlighted by a 19.7 ppg. average as a junior. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola Marymount in 1995. 

Jones played professional basketball from 1995-2001 in Italy, France, Japan, Lebanon and South Korea. He also served on the staff at Nike Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) four two years from 2007-08 -- one of the premier summer league circuits for recruiting. 

UPDATE: MARCH 23, 3:28 p.m.: Jones has not received an interview, as of today. It's not believed by one source close to the search that he's a viable candidate.

UPDATE MARCH 24, 11:59 a.m.: Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports has tweeted that a source has told him Jones will be promoted to head coach. The Bay Area News Group's Jon Wilner is also hearing that from a source. Working to confirm with sources at the athletic department.

Kyle Terada / USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE March 24 11:00 a.m.: Shareef Abdur-Rahim | Age: 40

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Why Abdur-Rahim is a Candidate 

It's an unconventional hire, but just look 20 minutes down the road at Oracle Arena: Two unconventional hires -- Steve Kerr and Bob Meyers -- are running a championship club.

The Cal alum has been pushed by several sources close to Mike Williams in the last 24 hours. At first, Mark J. Spears of ESPN tweeted that Abdur-Rahim had expressed interest, and BearTerritory has since confirmed with a source familiar with Abdur-Rahim's thinking that that is indeed the case. A source inside the athletic department said that he was on the first list of alumni and stakeholders to be contacted, but another source said that Abdur-Rahim was not contacted at the start of the search. That's being rectified now. Two sources close to Mike Williams have put Abdur-Rahim's name in his ear, and he has the strong endorsement of many in the basketball world, including the AAU circuit.

He has a vast network of contacts who would be able to put pros in Under Armour shoes out of Cal.

He'd be more than palatable to the Regents, he'd be an ace in terms of representing the University, he's a one-and-done who came back and not only got his degree, but is pursuing an advanced degree, and he's done work with youth basketball. His name recognition alone would be enough of a reason, but all of the above makes him a home-run hire.

The most intriguing aspect of Abdur-Rahim, to me, is his executive experience. He doesn't have head coaching experience, obviously, but he's been in a high-level position for various organizations for a few years. He was the assistant GM for the Kings after coaching there, then was named the GM for the Reno Bighorns, and is currently the Associate VP of Basketball Operations for the NBA.

Abdur-Rahim does have experience as a coach, as an assistant for the Kings from 2008-10. Obviously he has a lot of name recognition, and unlike other former players who have been mentioned, he has his degree, and has been pursuing his business degree at USC. He finished his sociology degree at Cal in 2012 with a 3.8 GPA, and of course he was on campus for Jaylen Brown's announcement.

To those who doubt that a guy who's spent much of his post-playing career solely in the executive offices of the NBA can be an effective coach, I present to you one Steve Kerr.

Shareef Abdur-Rahim has what even Kerr did not, and that's on-court coaching experience at the NBA level. I'm not saying Abdur-Rahim is Steve Kerr, but I am saying that those of you who are looking solely at the fact that he's not been a head coach as disqualifying need to perhaps widen their perspective.

Casey Sapio / USA TODAY Sports

Joe Pasternack | Arizona Assistant | Age: 39

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Why Pasternack is a Candidate 

UPDATE 10 a.m., MARCH 19: Arizona has made it to the Sweet 16, so that means that this interview would likely be delayed, meaning that Randy Bennett of St. Mary's -- who made a strong showing, but ultimately fell to the Wildcats in the second round -- may get first crack.

UPDATE 10:30 a.m., MARCH 22: Pasternack and the Wildcats are coming to San Jose for the NCAA Regional at SAP Pavilion. It certainly seems like a good opportunity for an in-person interview.

Pasternack was on the short list the last time the Bears went about a coaching search, and he's still one of the most highly-regarded assistants on the West Coast, if not in the nation. Pasternack is, again, a young option (perhaps the oldest among the young options), and started his coaching career just after Gates left Cal in 2001, but he stayed on staff through 2007, under Braun. He spent four years as a head coach at New Orleans, before joining up with Sean Miller in Tucson. 

A 1999 graduate of Indiana, Pasternack spent four years as a student manager under Bobby Knight. Though his stint in New Orleans wasn't stellar (a 54-60 record), the athletic department was, by many accounts, a mess at that point, following Hurricane Katrina. He was turning that team around when the rug was pulled out from underneath him, and his players all wound up going to Power 5 schools after he left.

In Arizona, though, he's flourished. One of the top recruiters on the West Coast -- and a primary recruiter for the likes of Aaron Gordon, Stanley Johnson and Brandon Ashley -- Pasternack also helped bring in Allonzo Trier, and coached him to Pac-12 All-Freshman honors last season. 

Many Cal fans balk at Pasternack because of his incident with Jorge Gutierrez five years ago, where he kicked at the Cal guard after Gutierrez fell into the Arizona bench, but he issued a public apology after the incident.

He's someone with Cal ties, and sources say that some major boosters donors -- Doug Goldman and many others -- are very enamored with him. He's young, can recruit, and comes from success. He knows how to run a winning program, and would be a very good bet. If you want a practice facility built, he's the guy who can get it done, from a donor perspective. He accomplishes the goal of going young (like Wilcox, 40), and he's got head coaching experience.

Brett Rojo / USA TODAY Sports

NEW NAME AT 8:30 A.M., MARCH 20: Jim Les | UC Davis Head Coach | Age: 53

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The Skinny on Les

Les interviewed on Sunday, or will interview on Monday as part of the first round of four candidates. Like Martin, Les is an Illinois native, and attended Cleveland State (1981-82) and Bradley  (1983-86) before being picked in the now-defunct third round of the NBA Draft in 1986 by the Atlanta Hawks as a point guard. He started his career in the professional ranks, playing in the Continental Basketball Association for the Rochester Flyers and Chicago Express, Santa Barbara islanders, Saskatchewan Storm and Omaha Racers, with NBA cups of coffee with the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, before four years with the Sacramento Kings and a season Hawks. In 1991, he was the NBA's three-point percentage leader.

He began his coaching career with Omaha as an assistant in 1994, before serving as an assistant from 1999-2001 with the Sacramento Monarchs of the WNBA.

Les got his first head coaching gig in 2002 at his alma mater, Bradley, and held that post until 2011, when he moved to UC Davis. His daughter attended UC Santa Barbara, so he's familiar with the UC system.

With Bradley, Les posted a 154-140 overall record (74-88 in the Missouri Valley Conference) and made one NCAA Tournament, making it to the Sweet 16 in 2005-06. He also made the NIT once (second round), the CBI once (runner-up) and the CIT (runner-up). He was fired after going 12-20 in his final season.

With the Aggies, he's gone 87-104, and 47-51 in the Big West, getting to the NIT with a 25-7 conference-title season in 2014-15, and then guiding Davis to the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever with a 23-13 mark this year. 

Chris Nicoll / USA TODAY Sports

Randy Bennett | St. Mary's Head Coach | Age: 54

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Why Bennett is a Candidate 

UPDATE 11:30 A.M., MARCH 17: I'm told by a source that Cal is "very serious" about Bennett. He's moving up the list.

UPDATE 10 a.m., MARCH 19: Bennett and St. Mary's are out of the NCAA Tournament, meaning that he is now on the table. The Gaels eliminated No. 10-seed VCU 85-77, and lost a hotly-contested game against No. 2-seed Arizona in the Round of 32, 69-60. Bennett has largely made his hay with an Australian pipeline to Moraga, and while some have questioned whether that would work at Berkeley, one has to look no further than current commit Grant Anticevich to see that it very well could work, as long as he stays between the academic lines when he recruits. 

UPDATE 8:07 P.M., MARCH 20: A source close to Bennett has told Scout that he's having doubts about leaving Moraga, and is leaning towards staying at St. Mary's. It's far from a done deal, and these things tend to be fairly fluid, but that's where it stands. At this point, his gut says to not leave St. Mary's.

UPDATE 4:22 p.m., MARCH 21: A source said that there is one interview scheduled today for the job, and speculated that it may very well be Bennett, who is said to have been of two minds on the Cal job.

UPDATE 11:13 A.M., MARCH 22: Hearing from multiple sources that Bennett has told Cal that he is staying at St. Mary's, but also hearing that he's still contemplating. Lots of back and forth. As I said earlier, he seems to be of two minds on the matter.

You've got to make the ask, right? A source close to Mike Williams said that Bennett would be at least a possibility. At 314-147 in his head coaching career, Bennett is a perennial coaching candidate for every vacancy in the nation. What would make Cal attractive? The facilities are at least a step up from St. Mary's, his family wouldn't have to move and the Bay Area would be familiar recruiting ground. Recruits, likewise, would be familiar with his success at that little private school down the road. Here's the rub: Would he even want to leave Moraga? Word is that Bennett would leave St. Mary's for one of two places: Cal or Arizona State.

Bennett is king in Moraga, and that gym is packed every night during the basketball season. At Cal, he'd be taking over a program that drew 1,778 to a first-round NIT game, and regularly struggles to sell out against top-notch opponents. Bennett's reputation as a giant slayer with the Gaels would face tremendous pressure against the likes of the Pac-12, although he did have to contend with Gonzaga and BYU regularly. 

Bigger programs than the Bears have come calling before, and he's turned them down. Could the Bears finally pluck him away? He's taken the Gaels to the NCAA Tournament five times, and the NIT five times, and while it's been slow goings the last four years, he has St. Mary's back in the Tournament this year as a No. 7 seed, with three of their its losses coming at the hands of the Bulldogs.

Orlando Ramirez / USA TODAY Sports

Russ Turner | UC Irvine Head Coach | Age: 46

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Why Turner is a Candidate 

Another name from last time around (it really was only three years ago that Montgomery retired), Turner has professional experience (with the Warriors), and coached under Montgomery both at Stanford and at Golden State, before taking over at UC Irvine. Since taking over in SoCal, he's compiled a 139-104 record, winning three Big West regular-season championships and one Big West Tournament championship. He's reached the postseason each of the last five years, and the NCAA Tournament once (a second-round appearance in 2014-15. His current contract runs through the 2019-20 season.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m., March 20: Turner has interviewed for the job on Sunday, or will interview on Monday, among a set of four to start the process.

UPDATE 8:38 p.m., March 13: Why Turner Wouldn't Get the Job

Turner is highly-regarded, comes from Montgomery's coaching tree and knows the intricacies of the University of California system. He was considered a candidate for Stanford's opening this time last year, and was a candidate for the Vanderbilt and George Mason jobs, as well, but a source has said that there are undisclosed reasons why he wound up not leaving Irvine

James Snook / USA TODAY Sports

Travis DeCuire | Montana Head Coach | Age: 47

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Why DeCuire is a Candidate 

DeCuire was Montgomery's top assistant at Cal for six years, and was interviewed during the Bears' last coaching search. Word has it that he was very impressive, and that then-athletic director Sandy Barbour actually pushed for him to be the choice, before vice chancellor John Wilton and chancellor Nicholas Dirks tapped Martin. DeCuire is a top-notch recruiter with roots in the very rich Seattle talent pool (looking at you, Jaylen Nowell and Daejon Davis). He didn't get the Cal job, but he did get the lead at Montana, going 41-23 in his first two seasons, with a 28-8 record in the Big Sky, going to the NIT and then the CBI in his first and second seasons, respectively. He also nearly knocked off Martin and the Bears when he came to Berkeley in the 2014-15 season. Cal needed double overtime to dispatch the Grizzlies.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m., March 20: DeCuire has interviewed for the job on Sunday, or will interview on Monday, among a set of four to start the process.

Why DeCuire Wouldn't Get The Job

I think he gets at least an interview, but this season, with largely his own recruits, DeCuire has struggled. Montana has gone 16-16 this season, didn't make the postseason. Another reason he may not wind up in Berkeley: Those Northwest connections. DeCuire is a Seattle product, and those deep roots in the Northwest could draw him back up there, where he was a star for Mercer Island High School. Given that Washington just fired Lorenzo Romar for, in part, not being able to keep top talent home, it's easy to see DeCuire as a potential solution in Montlake. 

UPDATE 1:24 P.M., MARCH 22: Hearing that DeCuire is out of the running.

Ed Szczepanski / USA TODAY Sports

Brian Shaw | Lakers Associate Head Coach | Age: 50

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Athletic director Mike Williams has said that there is a lot of interest already in the head coaching position at Cal, after Martin elevated its prominence, and there is now some very real evidence for that. 

A source said that Shaw is interested, and his son, B.J. Shaw, just transferred to Oakland (Calif.) Bishop O'Dowd this year, and is an intriguing scorer. It's possible that Robertson could come as his top assistant, as could Gates. No word on whether the Bears are interested in Shaw, but there is interest on his part.

UPDATE 3:54 p.m., March 16: Shaw has been put on Mike Williams's short list, a source says.

Shaw is, himself, an O'Dowd grad, an Oakland native and went to St. Mary's from 1983-85, before finishing up at UC Santa Barbara. A first-round pick by the Boston Celtics in 1988, Shaw played in the NBA through 2003, including a one-year stint with the Warriors. A three-time NBA champion with the Lakers, Shaw added two championship rings as an assistant coach with the Lakers, as well. He hasn't ever coached at the college level, but he has been a head coach for two seasons, with the Denver Nuggets. His teams went 56-85, before he was fired in the middle of the 2014-15 season. After that, he returned to the Lakers to coach under Luke Walton.

Phil Sears / USA TODAY Sports

Dennis GatesFlorida State Assistant | Age: 37

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UPDATE 4:13 p.m., MARCH 22: I'm told that Gates would not be considered for the head coaching job, but would come aboard with Pasternack as an assistant.

Why Gates is a candidate

Gates was an outside candidate last time the Bears went looking for a head coach, and he checks off a lot of the boxes that Martin did. He's relatively young, he's African American, he's an effective recruiter and he has experience at high-major programs. The only thing he doesn't have is head coaching experience, but what he does have that Martin did not is a history on the West Coast, and experience dealing with Cal's unique challenges. Martin had trouble recruiting the types of players he wanted -- tough, hard-nosed, gritty, if not academic stalwarts -- and as such, there were at least four players that BearTerritory knows of, who were not going to make it in to Berkeley (or be able to stay in), and had to go elsewhere.

Gates played at Cal from 1999-2002, was named the Bears' most inspirational player in 2001, and was twice named Cal's Outstanding Student-Athlete in 1999 and 2001. He was a two-time All-Pac-10 First-Team All-Academic pick. He knows what it takes to deal with the academics in Berkeley, and he's had real success on the sideline.

After earning his sociology degree from Cal in just three years, and playing his senior year as a graduate student (he finished that degree in 2005 at Florida State), he went on to begin his coaching career as a coaching assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers as a skill development coach during the 2002-03 season, then coached at Marquette and Florida State from 2003-05, as a graduate assistant. He returned to Berkeley from 2005-07, under then-head coach Ben Braun, making the NCAA Tournament in the 2005-06 season. After stops at Northern Illinois and Nevada, he returned to Tallahassee in 2011, and he's reached the postseason in five of the last six years, including a first-round appearance in the NCAA Tournament this year.

Kirby Lee / USA TODAY Sports

Theo RobertsonLos Angeles Lakers Assistant | Age: 29

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Why Robertson is a Candidate 

UPDATE: 8:38 p.m., March 15: A source said that Robertson would definitely be interested.

UPDATE 1:13 p.m., March 17: Steve Kerr chimed in on Robertson's coaching chops after Warriors practice. Quotes below.

UPDATE 4:24 p.m., March 22: I'm told Robertson is not a candidate, but could be a candidate for an assistant position.

Robertson is perhaps the most unconventional candidate, and that's why he should be at or near the top of Cal's list. Like Gates, he's a Cal product.

As a senior, Robertson was a second-team all-conference selection, leading the league in three-point percentage (44.0) and helping the Bears to their first conference title in 50 years. He also left with the school's all-time best career three-point percentage (45.3%).

He's young, and though he doesn't have head coaching experience, he's a hot name in the coaching ranks. He's played under Hall-of-Fame head coach Mike Montgomery, he's learned under Steve Kerr with the Golden State Warriors, and was so well-regarded that Luke Walton took him down to Los Angeles to help coach the Lakers. He's a grinder, in terms of his work ethic, and he was a huge boost to recruiting, even in his limited capacity when he was with the Bears as a graduate manager, and director of operations for the program for two years.

"Theo's a rock star, he really is," Kerr said on Friday, after Warriors practice. "He really is. He's just a great, smart guy, and someone who everybody on our staff and our roster enjoyed being around. I don't know what the level of interest is, in him, from Cal's perspective, but he's going to be a great coach, whether it's now or down the road. He's got a lot of talent."

From his stint as part of the staff at Cal, he joined the Warriors, and as their video coordinator, helped Kerr and Golden State win the organization's first title in 40 years.

"I hired him for a number of reasons," Kerr said. "He's really smart, he's easy to get along with. He's also a guy who can get out on the floor and play three-on-three. He'd just finished his Cal career, so he's still a big, strong athlete, and could hold his own against guys playing three-on-three games after practice, which a lot of our guys need -- guys who don't play a whole lot, one of the ways they stay in rhythm is playing one-on-one or three-on-three. I always like to hire guys who can still do that, and Theo can still play, and coach."

Kerr said that, eventually, Robertson would have been a front-bench coach for him.

"We wanted him back," Kerr said. "We offered him a spot, back, but he had a great opportunity to go with Luke, and he made that decision, which I respect. I think he really valued new experience in a new city. He's grown up in the Bay Area, spent his whole life here. I think it was good for him to experience something new with Luke, and we'll see where his career takes him, but he'll do good things."

A Pittsburg, Calif., native, and a Concord (Calif.) De La Salle graduate, Robertson carries a lot of weight, locally, and can keep top Bay Area basketball players home. He's a dynamic and engaging personality that will jibe well with donors, fans and players alike. 

Given that multiple Athletics Department sources have expressed their concern about the potential for fiscal austerity under new chancellor Carol Christ, Robertson would also be a relatively cheap alternative. Even with that, though, Robertson isn't an example of going cheap. He'd be a home run, and would bring some innovative offensive basketball to Haas Pavilion. If athletic director Mike Williams wants to go young with this hire, as he did with Justin Wilcox, this would be the route to go.

The biggest drawback: He's not been an on-court assistant, and he doesn't have head coaching experience. That could be a stumbling block.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cpl9nuPH7E

Stephen R. Sylvanie / USA TODAY Sports

Eric Musselman | Nevada Head Coach | Age: 52

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UPDATE March 22, 10:20 a.m.: According to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, our sources have been proven correct: Musselman is no longer a candidate for the Cal job, after rampant speculation that he would be named even as soon as today. Again, our sources had indicated that his background check would not come out clean, and multiple sources close to the search said last night that no offer had been made, and no announcement was imminent. It should be noted that the NCAA Regionals are being held in San Jose, and it is entirely possible that Cal will conduct at least one interview there.

Why Musselman is a Candidate 

Word is that Musselman is close with one of the key principles running the search for Cal, and he's done quite a bit in two years with a struggling Nevada program. Musselman has taken a team that was 9-22 (second-to-last in the Mountain West) the season before he arrived, and immediately went 24-14, finishing fourth in the Mountain West and winning the College Basketball Invitational. This year, the Wolf Pack are in the NCAA Tournament after winning the regular season Mountain West title and the Mountain West Tournament, going 28-6. Unlike Gates and Robertson, he's not only been a head coach, but he's had success as a head coach, both in the pros and in college.

UPDATE 10 a.m., MARCH 19: After an 84-73 loss to Iowa State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Musselman is now free to interview. Multiple sources have said that Musselman has an advocate who's a major part of directing the search, so his name is gaining steam. Add to that the fact that Washington -- his potential other landing spot (which would likely have pushed the price upwards) has filled its vacancy, replacing Lorenzo Romar with Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins -- and we've switched Musselman's arrow to trending upwards. Musselman is making $400k at Nevada right now, ninth out of 11 Mountain West head coaches.

UPDATE 8:30 a.m., March 20: Musselman has interviewed for the job on Sunday, or will interview on Monday, among a set of four to start the process.

Why Musselman Wouldn't Get the Job

Musselman has a lot of baggage. From a DUI to a poor reputation in the locker room when he coached the Warriors, to hiring Yann Hufnagel, there are a lot of reasons that I don't think this will get done. Given how much Mike Williams praised Martin's character and how many headaches the Hufnagel situation caused the athletic department and the administration, I don't think this happens. I think there's still some unpleasant feelings regarding what happened last March, but, still, I think there is some mutual attraction here.

UPDATE 9:49 a.m., March 17: If Cal wants to go the cheap route, a source said, they won't go with Musselman. Additionally, Washington and LSU are likely to come calling. 

UPDATE March 22, 12:22 a.m.: Multiple sources have said that Musselman's DUI and his hiring of Hufnagel would be issues when it comes to getting his potential contract approved by incoming chancellor Carol Christ (though it's not clear how involved she is) and UC president Janet Napolitano. That said, another source close to the search said that it would appear as though the job has to fall past Musselman to get to someone else. Yet another source has indicated (and the Reno Gazette Journal has written) that Musselman is also currently negotiating for a raise with Nevada. 

Multiple sources close to the search have indicated that an announcement "is not imminent," for Musselman or any other candidate.


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