Names As Possible Replacement

While Bearcat fans hold out hope that Coach Huggins keeps his job, many are looking for names who could be in the running if the worst happens. Kyle Lamb takes a quick look at some names that could be considered.

1. MICK CRONIN

Cincinnati Graduate (1997)

33 years old

Now –Head Coach of Murray State

Then –Former Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator of UC

Hometown --Cincinnati

Why he would be a good fit

Being young (33 years old), a Cincinnati local, and a coach who has already began to become a hot commodity at the Ohio Valley Conference program located in Murray, Kentucky—Cronin seems like an ideal upstart candidate. As an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator for the Bearcats from 1997 to 2001, Cronin moved on to coach under Rick Pitino at Louisville, where he was considered one of the top young assistant coaches in the entire country—and also a fantastic recruiter. In two years, Cronin's teams have finished 28-6 with an OVC championship, and this past season, they finished 17-11.

Why he wouldn't

There's really not too much to like about Cronin. But if you're going to find any knock, it's simply that we have seen coaches like Cronin try and fail at making the jump from a successful mid-major program to the big time college basketball ranks.

What would be the chances?

In all reality, you would have to consider Cronin to be the top early candidate to replace Bob Huggins as a successor. The combination of being young, energetic, a great recruiter, a Cincinnati product, and a great basketball mind gives Cronin a tremendous array of qualities for the UC administration to consider. Most importantly, he's considered a top-notch individual.

2. JOHN LOYER

Akron Graduate (1988)

38 years old

Now –Assistant Coach for Portland Trailblazers

Then – 9-year Assistant Coach of UC

Why he would be a good fit

Loyer has a lot of experience in the college ranks, and especially at UC. His recruiting was considered excellent in the nine years he was an assistant coach at Cincinnati, and quite honestly, Loyer has always had a soft spot for college basketball. Given he is still very young and a tremendous basketball coach, he could be a good fit to take the program to another level.

Why he wouldn't

Obviously with a university that is concerned about the image, taking Loyer could be a big risk and possibly not one the president would be willing to take. After all, Loyer resigned in 1999 after allegations that he displayed unethical conduct in the recruitment, and consequently, enrollment of former JUCO transfer, Charles Williams. Loyer helped enroll Williams in a summer class to make up a missing credit, and allegedly gave Williams a plane ticket and a pass to a Cincinnati Bengals game later that fall, but Loyer insists to this day it was cleared through the compliance department.

What would be the chances?

From Loyer's end, with largely a new administration, you would think Loyer would love to come back as a head coach if Cincinnati swallowed its pride to ask him to do so. However, the chances of them taking that risk given his past issues are slim.

3. PETE GILLEN

Fairfield Graduate (1968)

57 years old

Now –Recently dismissed as Head Coach of Virginia

Then –Former Head Coach of Xavier

Hometown –Brooklyn, NY

Why he would be a good fit

Gillen has about as good a reputation in a college basketball coach as one could hope for, and his days from 1989 to 1997 at Xavier gives him a great amount of familiarity with Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. Further, Gillen is a Brooklyn native that has coached as the headman of Providence, and would be a good fit to lead a program in its first season as a Big East member, especially for recruiting purposes.

Why he wouldn't

With very few exceptions, Gillen's teams just have not been really been able to take it to the next level. He seems to be a solid recruiter, but not spectacular. Additionally, Gillen is 57 years old and while he could have a good 10 years left in him, Cincinnati might want to start with more of an up and coming coach as opposed to someone so late in his career with a minimal amount of success with big time basketball teams.

What would be the chances?

With Gillen's recent termination by Virginia, he is currently unemployed and reportedly very eager to catch on somewhere. You would think that getting back to a city he's very familiar with and heading to a conference located within his roots would be very appealing. How serious would Cincinnati look at him?

4. HERB SENDEK

Carnegie-Mellon Graduate (1985)

42 years old

Now –Head Coach of N.C. State

Then –Former Head Coach of Miami (Oh.)

Hometown –Pittsburgh, PA

Why he would be a good fit

Sendek is a great fit to send a program into the Big East, especially from Ohio. He has strong ties within the state both from his days as the head coach at Miami in Oxford, and also from recruiting Ohio (and Cincinnati) often even as the head coach at N.C. State. Sendek does a great job of recruiting his former home state of Pennsylvania, and would probably do well in the Big East. Sendek also would give the program the image the administration might be looking for.

Why he wouldn't

Although he has recruited rather well at N.C. State, his teams have largely underachieved and he has never really gotten the program to the next level. You could count on Sendek giving Cincinnati a solid program, but it's anyone's guess how good they would be under his watch.

What would be the chances?

For the most part, Sendek seems nice and cozy down in Raleigh. But as they say, all good things come to an end. Getting Sendek to leave N.C. State for Cincinnati may be a tough sell, but it's one that might be worth it. Sendek has been reported to be on the hot seat quite often over the past few years, but he does just enough to stay. Perhaps he has overstayed his welcome. If so, he might not be as far a reach as one may think.

5. STEVE LAVIN

Chapman College (1988)

40 years old

Now –College Basketball analyst for ESPN

Then –Former Assistant Coach at Purdue and former Head Coach at UCLA

Hometown –San Anselmo, Calif.

Why he would be a good fit

For better or worse, Steve Lavin is one of the most recognizable names in college basketball coaching. He would restore instant credibility to Cincinnati as far as recruiting and prominence. Lavin is also still on the young side, and a high profile name could be what Cincinnati needs heading into the Big East.

Why he wouldn't

Lavin's teams have underachieved quite often, and his slick, and in some cases, rough personality might not be the persona the university is looking for. For that matter, Lavin is more of a West Coast guy, despite having coached for Gene Keady at Purdue several years ago.

What are the chances?

Lavin has flirted with the idea of getting out of the ESPN booth and back into the college coaching ranks, but it will only be for the right job. Lavin thought he may have a legitimate shot at the Purdue job before Keady ultimately decided to come back for one final season, and he also was named as a possible successor at the University of San Francisco. However, while Lavin would give Cincinnati a big name coach, he might not meet that profile that's being discussed.

6. ANDY KENNEDY

UAB Graduate (1991)

Now-Assistant Coach University of Cincinnati

Then-Former college and professional player who's worked his way up the coaching ranks.

Why he would be a good fit

Kennedy knows the system in place at the current time. While he may not be the long term choice, he would provide a coach the players know and trust. Considered a coach on the rise over the past few years , Andy Kennedy has proven he can recruit players to the university.

Why he wouldn't

As a assistant for Coach Huggins, Kennedy may have mixed feelings about being the coach to replace him. While he's proven as an assistant, he's may not be ready for the "Big Time". Also, would the university want to replace Huggins with one of his assistants? And will the now famous Fax to former recruit Keith Butler come back on him now?

7. CHARLIE PARKER

Findlay Graduate (1972)

55 years old

Now –Assistant Coach for the Dallas Mavericks

Then –Former Assistant Coach at USC under George Raveling and Bowling Green

Hometown –Findlay, OH

Why he would be a good fit

There's nothing fancy about Parker or his personality, but he's considered a solid coach who knows the game of basketball. Parker has Ohio roots and has coached for some very good coaches in his career.

Why he wouldn't

Parker at this point in his career would be a gamble. He has not been in the college ranks for several years, and he's 55 years old.

What are the chances?

It's quite possible that Parker's name could surface for the job as more than just a token minority candidate, but unless all UC is looking for is stability and a good image, he might not be the best candidate for the job. He is probably a long shot.

8. JOHNNY DAWKINS

Duke Graduate (1986)

41 years old

Now –Assistant Coach of Duke

Then –Former Duke and NBA standout

Hometown –Washington DC

Why he would be a good fit

For a few years now, Dawkins has been considered the next big name coming from the Coach K assistant train. Dawkins is still young, he's a great recruiter, and he has done a great job as a bench coach for Mike Krzyzewski in most eyes. Dawkins is a risk, but a worthwhile one.

Why he wouldn't

For all intents and purposes, Dawkins is considered to be more of an ACC guy, and he would be starting from scratch with Ohio and East Coast coaches. His name has popped up for several jobs, but he has yet to make a move leading one to believe he's holding out for a particular job.

What would be the chances?

Given that the particular job Dawkins wants is to be the Duke successor when Coach K retires, even if a university like Cincinnati were interested, he might not be. One has to believe that Dawkins is being groomed to be that next head coach, and he seems content to wait out his chance.

9. KEITH DAMBROT

Akron Graduate (1982)

47 years old

Now –Head Coach of Akron

Then –Former Head Coach of LeBron James' Akron St. Vincent/St. Mary's HS team

Hometown –Akron, OH

Why he would be a good fit

It took Dambrot just a little longer to finally get back into the Division I head coaching ranks, as it had been over 10 years (1993) since the last time Dambrot was a head coach. His last stint at Central Michigan ended with a 12-16 record. In his first season as the head coach of Akron after becoming a high profile coach when he mentored LeBron James at Akron St. Vincent/ St. Mary's, Dambrot led the Zips to a 19-10 record, and a legitimate NCAA tournament at-large consideration. Dambrot has a lot of connections in the Ohio coaching ranks, and could be at least a solid gamble.

Why he wouldn't

With just three years as a college head coach and nearly approaching 50 years old, Dambrot has yet to actually get a team into the postseason. His recruiting is still an unknown commodity, as well.

What would be the chances?

It's possible, you would think, to be able to pry Dambrot away from his alma mater, Akron, if Cincinnati came calling. However, it may be a tough sell and it's unlikely that Dambrot would be high on anyone's list.

10. CHRIS JENT

Ohio State Graduate (1992)

35 years old

Now –Interim Head Coach of the Orlando Magic

Then –Former Ohio State & NBA player, Assistant of Player Development for 76ers

Hometown –Sparta, NJ

Why he would be a good fit

In both his college and NBA career, Jent managed to get and stay to these levels in spite of average talent because he was a tireless worker that was energetic and simply didn't quit. That's much of the reason he's already in line to possibly be a full time head coach in the NBA at just 35 years old, despite only being an assistant coach for a few seasons. Taking over as the Magic's interim head coach on March 17th, Jent hardly set the world on fire with a 5-13 record, but given it was just the Magic, that's to be expected. Still, Jent is a New Jersey native and has been given a realistic chance to win the full time job as Orlando has been interviewing potential candidates. Jent is considered a potential coaching star, and might be worth a risk.

Why he wouldn't

Jent has absolutely no college coaching experience, and quite honestly, it's hard to say whether he even has an interest as he has already jumped in at the highest level of the coaching profession. Further, although one would expect he would be a good recruiter, no one really knows for sure.

What would be the chances?

Probably slim both ways. It is possible Jent will be named as the head coach of the Magic, and even if not, Cincinnati might not even have him on the radar. If he is, he might not be interested in coming to the college ranks.

Other names to think about:

Bobby Knight –From one temper to another might not be the ideal situation for Cincinnati, but you know Knight does things the right way and reportedly he's not planning to stay at Texas Tech, as he has not signed his contract extension offer there in Lubbock. Knight could pass Dean Smith on the all-time coaching list as the Bearcat head coach and would certainly keep the Bearcats in the tournament. But as you know, he's not the most pleasant gentleman around.

Cliff Ellis – Ellis has been out of a job for a few years as he no longer is coaching for Auburn, and seems eager to make a return. Ellis is more of a Southern guy, however, and probably wouldn't be a great fit for Cincinnati. He would be an intriguing name, however.

Buzz Peterson – With Peterson taking the job at Coastal Carolina after his termination at Tennessee, it's doubtful that Peterson could up and leave so soon from Coastal. However, a year from now, perhaps if Huggins lasts that long, Peterson's name could resurface.

Dan Peters – The former Youngstown State head coach and Cincinnati Associate Head Coach is an Ohio State assistant now, but reportedly wouldn't be opposed whatsoever to returning to Southwest Ohio, especially if he were offered the Head Coaching position. Peters is not someone that likes to get heavily involved in recruiting, however, so he would need a good recruiting assistant.

FRANK MARTIN - The current Bearcat assistant coach was up for a head job this spring. While he's a name under the radar by many, Martin is considered another top coach on the rise. While a clean break from Huggins would place Martin out of the running, he may be a coach the university feels it could afford to pay.


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