While Cincinnati Bearcat fans have expressed the desire for the administration to hire current intern head coach Andy Kennedy, the job of making the final choice has been given and accepted by UC Athletic Director Mike Thomas. Thomas, who enters his fourth month on the job, has seen and heard the many rumors and comments by fan's and media types, and has even commented on why he is the lone person in charge of hiring the next coach.
So while rumors will run wild until the job is filled, I've felt it's time to look at who may be in the running to become the Bearcats next head coach. Keep in mind that today fans are looking for a name they know or one they have heard is a winner. But back when UC hired a young coach out of Akron by the name of Bob Huggins, the man Bearcat Nation would come to love, only had a 97-46 record during his five season at Akron and made one NCAA Tournament (1986) and two NIT Tournaments (1987-1989) while winning only one OVC Championship (1985). So don't judge the body of work until the person who is hired has a chance to do the job.
COACH: INTERN HEAD COACH CINCINNATI
EXP: FIRST SEASON COLLEGE
Bearcat fans have come to love Bob Huggins former assistant coach. While many didn't feel Kennedy would have a chance to be hired when he took over, the job he's done this season won fan and media support and now Kennedy has to be considered one of the top choices for the job. But just because Kennedy was able to work wonders with the five seniors left behind by Huggins, some will question if he can get the job done in the years to come. Kennedy is going to be a head coach, it's just a matter of where it will be. Those who follow basketball have also stressed that UC needs to only look across the border at Indiana to see how hiring a current assistant coach instead of looking around can do to a program. While Kennedy has proven he's a better bench coach the Mike Davis, his ties to Bob Huggins could be one of the main reasons he will not get the job. No matter what happen, Andy Kennedy will go down in Bearcats history for his current season at the helm.
Reasons Why: AK is the current head coach and has enjoyed a great season with players he helped recruit into the program. His relationships with the players who will be staying in the program are strong and the fan support behind him will help next season.
Why Not: Being part of the Bob Huggins team may cause him to be left out when the next head coach is hired. Plus his only experience is from this season and while it has been a great one, there is still much needed from a head coach at a major program.
COACH: KENT STATE
EXP: 4 YEARS COLLEGE
Jim Christian replaced Stan Heath and went 22-9 in his first season as head coach. He earned National Rookie Coach of the Year by Basketball Times and given a seven year contract extension the following season. Christian knows the Big East conference as he served as an assistant coach at Pittsburgh under Ralph Willard. A former player (Boston University - Rhode Island), Christian is thought to be a good evaluator of basketball talent. Christian has kept the Kent State program on the rise since he took over the program.
Reasons Why: With ties to the Big East (Pittsburgh) and being considered one of the top young coaches in the country, Christian may be ready to take the next step and build a program long-term at a high profile program and conference. Understand the combination of athletics and academics that the Big East Conference and UC have in place.
Why Not: While he's done a great job at Kent State, has he done enough to compete with the likes of the veteran coaches in the Big East?
HEAD COACH: SETON HALL
EXP: 6 YEARS COLLEGE
The Cincinnati native is the latest name to come up in conversation about the next Bearcats head coach. Know for being a teacher of student athletes, Orr has seen some success at Seton Hall. While his teams never reach the farthest level, they are always in the thick of things. With ties to the NBA and known for his teams defensive intensity, Orr may be a coach the UC Athletic Department could look upon to help recruit local and national players. Orr seems to share in the vision of what an UC Student Athlete should be. He's considered a person and coach with a reputation of integrity and trust.
Reasons Why: A Cincinnati native, Orr would be coming home and looking to recruit the local talent in the area. Understands the direction the program is looking to go with the changes in the Big East and at UC with student athletes.
Why Not: Has not done enough at his current job in the Big East to show why he could get it done at UC. While he seems to stay in the middle of the pack and compete for NCAA Tournaments, his teams always seem to come up just a little short.
HEAD COACH: NBA GOLDEN STATE
EXP: NBA 2 YEARS - 18 YEARS STANFORD
The former Stanford Head Coach built a strong program at a very tough academic school. He earned Pac-10 Coach of the Year Honors four times while at Stanford. Hired to be the head coach of the NBA's Golden State Warriors, many have felt Montgomery has tired of dealing with the NBA lifestyle and may be looking to return to the college life. While at Stanford, Montgomery had his team ready to win and compete for a national championship with 10 consecutive 20-plus win seasons. Is a dark horse for the job, but he really wants to leave the NBA, he's one of the coaches that should be given a look.
Reasons Why: Has learned very fast that life in the NBA isn't college. Could be looking to get back into the college scene and Cincinnati would provide him with a high enough profile program to do just that.
Why Not: Going from the West Coast to the Mid West may keep Montgomery in the NBA until the right job opens up out west. Also the amount of money he's earning now as compared to what UC may be willing to pay.
HEAD COACH: MURRY STATE
EXP: 3 YEARS COLLEGE
Known for helping build some of Cincinnati's top teams during the Bob Huggins ear, Cronin is considered a dark horse because of his ties with the former Bearcats head coach. But no one can overlook the job Croin has done since taking over at Murry State prior to the 2003-04 season. Having also worked for Louisville under Rick Pitino, Cronin is known for his recruiting success. Since taking over at Murry State he's done a great job and is considered one of the top coaches on the market.
Reasons Why: Great recruiter who knows how to win. Local ties to Cincinnati allow him to come in and build a nice base in the tri-state area with coaches and players. Has proven he can win.
Why Not: Ties to former Head Coach Bob Huggins and other issues may keep UC from looking at him hard for the job.
HEAD COACH: VANDERBILT
EXP: 13 YEARS COLLEGE
Stallings has built the Vanderbilt program into a successful one in the tough SEC. Known for building his programs on quality players and dedicated student athletes has placed his name in the running for the Bearcats job. With former OSU President Gordon Gee at the helm of the school and his ties with UC President Nancy Zimpher, many have placed Stallings into the mix. But much of the talk seems to more rumor then truth and Stallings name has cooled in recent weeks.
Reasons Why: Knows what is needed for the student athletes and the new standards in place by the Big East and UC. Can build a program and compete in one of the countries top conferences.
Why Not: Because of the place he's coaching at right now, UC may not have interest in taking one of Gordon Gee's coaches.
HEAD COACH: CREIGHTON
EXP: 12 YEARS
Is there another coach in America ready to move up to the big-time? Dana Altman has done a great job at Creighton during his 12 years there. His teams have enjoyed great success in the Missouri Valley Conference and gone to the NCAA Tournament. With coaching stops at Marshall and Kansas State before heading to Creighton, Altman should be considered one of the top choices for many of the openings around the country. Altman even left K-State with a winning record after four seasons.
Reasons Why: He's earned it with the success he's had at Creighton. He knows how to build a program long term and has shown he will stay loyal to the program. Has done a great job in working with student athletes on and off the court.
Why Not: The last time he was in a high profile job he left after only four years. If you call Kansas State high profile. While he's built a program he may not be able to recruit the areas needed to have success in the Big East.
HEAD COACH: GEORGE WASHINGTON
EXP: 5 YEARS
Hobbs is one of the hottest names and rumors have come out that his former boss Jim Calhoun has even called the Big East offices to have them call UC about Hobbs. There seems to be some kinks in the Hobbs armor in recent weeks, but he's got many supporters going all the way back to his high school playing days where he earned Massachusetts Schoolboy Player of the Year honors in 1979-80. Known for his recruiting and his development of players while at UConn, Hobbs has seen many of his players go on to NBA fame. It's now the time for Hobbs to leave GW and take on a higher profile job. Many have questioned how long Hobbs would be at any other program as talk has surrounded Hobbs that he will one day return to UConn and take over the program when Calhoun walks away.
Reasons Why: Hot coach on the rise looking to make the next step. Would love to get back into the Big East were his roots run deep. Has shown he can recruit and build a program form the ground up.
Why Not: Cracks have started to surface with how some of his players made it into college. The fact many feel he's waiting for UConn to open up down the road may keep him from taking another Big East job. will he stay long term and build the program?
HEAD COACH: UAB
EXP: 4 YEARS
Anderson is one of the hottest names in the college coaching world. Having started in the coaching business with Nolan Richardson, Anderson worked his way up the coaching ranks at both Tulsa and Arkansas. Richardson has never hid his feelings about the job Anderson did for the Razorbacks on the recruiting trail. Like Bob Huggins, Anderson has a knack of taking players under the radar and turning them into top notch players. The time is right for Anderson to take on a higher profile program, but UC would have to also battle some other programs looking for coaches.
Reasons Why: Knows about the Bearcats program and what is expected from who ever becomes the next head coach. Is also considered one of the hot coaches and will see several coaching jobs come his way.
Why Not: May be looking for a bigger payday then UC is willing to put out. Some in the basketball world have seen the cracks in his mentor Nolan Richardson and may want to stay clear of them.
HEAD COACH: WAKE FOREST
EXP: 12 YEARS
Just a few months ago everyone had Skip placed as the Bearcats next head coach. No other college coach saw his name placed at UC more then Skip. Folks, it's not going to happen and Prosser is going to stay at Wake Forest. While he's seen his teams ranked and has recorded winning seasons, Prosser isn't the right guy at this time to take over the Bearcats program.
Reasons Why: Family loves the Cincinnati area and could be looking to return to the Queen City. Has followed coaches who've built solid programs and keep them on their winning ways. Understand the importance of academics in the Big East and at UC.
Why Not: Big dollars would be needed to get Skip out of Wake and UC may not be looking to put out such high numbers. Even though he's seen success at both Xavier and Wake, many question if he can get the job done and take a team to the finals and win.
ASSISTANT COACH: OHIO STATE
EXP: 0 YEARS
Groce is one of the hottest assistant coaches in the country. Having worked under Thad Matta at Butler, Xavier and now Ohio State, Groce has seen big-time basketball in both the Big Ten and ACC when he worked for Herb Sendek at North Carolina State. Considered one of the top recruiters, Groce may not be ready for the UC job, but could be considered for one of the lower level programs that will open up this spring.
Reasons Why: One of the hottest assistant coaches in the country coming off a number 1 or 2 ranked recruiting class for Ohio State. Has worked in ACC and Big Ten along with A-10 during his young career.
Why Not: Is not ready for a big-time program without any head coaching experience. While he will find a head coaching job in the next couple of years, don't expect it to be in any of the bigger conferences just yet.
HEAD COACH: SAINT JOSEPH'S
EXP: 10 YEARS
Just look at the job done by Martelli at Saint Joseph's and you could see why he would be considered one of the top choices for the Bearcats job. The 2004 National Coach of the Year, Martelli has built a program from the ground up. While his name hasn't been spoke about in the rumor mills, he must be considered for the job. He's spent his time in the A-10 and could now be ready for the jump to the big-time of the Big East.
Reasons Why: Has shown he can take a down program and bring it back to life. Is considered one of the top coaches in the country at a smaller level program.
Why Not: Is happy were he's at and not looking to go anyplace else. Doesn't bring the big name that many are looking for and age may a factor.
EXP: OUT OF COACHING
What can you say about the man many have come to hate during broadcast on ESPN. Majerus may be a top-notch coach, but he's got much to desire when it comes to broadcasting. Since leaving Utah Majerus has been hired at USC, then walked away. He's also seen his name come up with every opening on the planet in both the college and pro levels. Will UC consider Majerus? I don't think so. But you can't take away the fact he's one of the top coaches in the country and the best one who is working on TV.
Reasons Why: The best coach besides Bob Huggins not coaching this year. Majerus is a coach and always will be a coach. He's had his chance to get back into the business, but seems to be looking for just the right job. Could Cincinnati be a slow enough place for Majerus to live and relax while enjoying coaching again?
Why Not: Each year he stays out of the game he will become less of a name for any head coaching job. Is making good money with TV and speaking and enjoys the travel and hotel living. Health may be a factor when looking at him as a long term coach.
HEAD COACH: BOWLING GREEN
EXP: 9 YEARS
Dakich is a Bobby Knight man. The former IU player has been a steady coach at Bowling Green. Dakich has ties to former head coach Bob Huggins in a strange way. When Huggins made up his mind not to take the West Virginia job Dakich was the coach hired for the job. But after a couple of days in Morgantown he made the choice not to sign his contract and leave town and head back to Bowling Green where he's still the coach today. Dakich has seen his players earn their degrees and has done well in the MAC Tournament. His time looks to have passed him by and while he could be considered for the job I don't really see him getting close.
Reasons Why: Learned under the master Bobby Knight and knows the importance in players getting their education while still playing at a high level. Not a bad X & O coach, but has stayed longer then many expected at Bowling Green.
Why Not: Burnt a bridge at West Virginia with the way he handled taking then walking away from the job after Bob Huggins didn't take it. Many have questioned if he really wants to be at a bigger program since WVU.
HEAD COACH: AKRON
EXP: 8 YEARS COLLEGE
Many have asked if new UC Athletic Director Mike Thomas would look towards Dambrot as the Bearcats next coach. The last coach hired at UC came from Akron and Dambrot is alot like the former Bearcats head man with teams that play an up-tempo offense and aggressive pressure defense. But one of the things Dambrot is enjoying is the fact he's working in his hometown. Dambrot was a student athlete at Akron and has spent almost his whole life in the Northeast Ohio city. He may not be looking to move to a bigger program now or in the future. But no one can say Dambrot is not considered one of the up and coming coaches in the country. Dambrot comes from a basketball family as his father starred at Duquesne during the early 50's and his uncle Irwin was the MVP of the 1950 NCAA Tournament and the number one draft pick of the New York Knicks that same year. Others who have thrown their support towards Dambrot are LeBron James who Dambrot played a key role in the NBA superstars early years. Others include NBA point guard Earl Boykins. One thing about Dambrot is he's a winner.
Reasons Why: Is known by UC Athletic Director Mike Thomas and has proven to be one of the hottest young coaches in the country. Bring energy and the desire to be a winner. Can recruit with anyone and sell his program.
Why Not: Is from Akron and seems happy to be in Akron. While bigger program may come calling, he may not be willing to listen. Because he coached at Akron while Mike Thomas was there could keep him from being looked at.
There you have fifteen names of coaches who could be looked at for the Bearcats head coaching position. Your guess is as good as anyone's when it comes down to who will be hired in the coming weeks to take over for Bob Huggins.
I'm sure there will be even more names to come out in the rumor mills in the next couple of weeks.
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