Steve Alford (USA Today)

Coaching Hot Board: Weekend update

The information is rolling in and we have re-ordered our hot board and added a new profile versus our firing day edition. Much to play out but get the latest take on the direction Indiana could be headed this month as it looks to replace Tom Crean.

The order of coaches is our best guess as to probability of landing the position. It's not an order of preference that the Indiana administration may have in mind. Most of the coaches on this list are paid handsomely and have turned down large dollar opportunities in the past.

Here's our order as of March 17th:

Steve Alford | Head coach, UCLA | Age 52

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Salary: $2.6 million
Buyout: $7.8 million.
College record: Overall 479-250 (.657), UCLA (2013-present) 94-44 (.681), New Mexico (2007-13) 155-42 (.749), Iowa (1999-2007) 152-106 (.589), Missouri State (1996-99) 78-48 (.619)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (10), Sweet Sixteen in 1999, 2014, 2015

Comments: This time around it there seems to be a different feel around Alford's chances. UCLA has had its best season since 2007-08 when Ben Howland took the Bruins to the Final Four. Yet he's never been embraced there, especially after a couple off years coming into this season (outside of 2015 tourney run). The Pierre Pierce incident is troubling but that is now over 12 years ago.

Alford recently landed the top prep player from Indiana (Kris Wilkes) and has recruited five-star junior Romeo Langford, so you could see an immediate recruiting boost with his hire. While he does have a large buyout clause in his contract, our information is that the actual cost would be so much less that it would not be a factor.


Archie Miller | Head coach, Dayton (A-10) | Age 38

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Salary: $2 million
Buyout: Undisclosed
College record: Dayton (2011-present) 139-62 (.692) 
College postseason: NCAA appearances (4), Elite Eight in 2014, Sweet Sixteen in 2015

Comments: Despite losing a key player or two, Miller has Dayton winning the Atlantic 10 regular season, which would be a second title. He's the hottest mid-major coach and is just over two hours drive from Bloomington. Before being hired at Dayton Miller was seasoned in the Big Ten (Ohio State), ACC ( NC State), and Pac-12 (Arizona).

Some believe Ohio State could be his dream job and he's already turned down overtures from the NC State job that opened up in February. That's significant since that's his alma mater. But many think Indiana would be really hard for him to turn down. 


Tony Bennett | Head coach, Virginia | Age 47

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Salary: $2.1 million. If you include "supplemental compensation" it goes up to roughly $2.4 million per year on average. Then there are "longevity bonuses" that could net Bennett an additional $1.5 million should he remain with the school through contract end in 2021.
Buyout: $3 million.
College record: Overall: 257-115 (.691), Virginia (2009-present) 188-82 (.696), Washington State (2006-09) 69-33 (.676)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (7), Elite Eight (2016), Sweet Sixteens (2008, 2014, 2016)

Comments: Bennett has won at tough places and without the talent of the other teams in his league. Outrecruited Indiana recently for his first ever McDonald's All-American when he nabbed Lawrence Central's Kyle Guy. Known mostly for his stifling defense, Bennett could look upon Indiana as the place where he could recruit at a high level and find the offensive firepower without sacrificing his targeting of players who can be coached to defend well. His sister Kathi once coached the Indiana women's team, resigning in 2005 after five years.

Bennett was approached by Indiana in past coaching searches but declined and has a good situation at Virginia. At the same time he's now been there eight season and could be inching for a place where could win it all. He's from the Midwest and he obviously knows the Big Ten where his father coached Wisconsin and where Tony worked on staff and two seasons under his successor, Bo Ryan. Bennett was an excellent college point guard for his father at UW-Green Bay and spent three seasons in the NBA for the Charlotte Hornets.

Gregg Marshall | Head coach, Wichita State | Age 53

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Salary: $3.5 million
Buyout: $500,000
College record: Overall 454-172 (.725), Wichita State (2007-present) 260-89 (.745), Winthrop (1998-2007) 194-83 (.700)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (13), Final Four (2013), Sweet Sixteen (2)

Comments: Marshall is obviously a proven coaching commodity. His team's are known for how hard they play, especially on the defensive end. Getting him to leave Wichita State will be tough as the Koch brothers and university already have him one of the highest paid coaches in the game with use of a private jet whenever he needs it.

Many wonder whether Marshall would enjoy the fishbowl environment at Indiana. At the same time if he's not a lifer in Wichita, now is the time for a move, especially if he wants a return trip to the Final Four.


Chris Collins | Head coach, Northwestern | Age 42

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Salary: $2 million (estimated)
Buyout: Undisclosed
College record: Overall: 73-59 (.553) 
College postseason: NCAA Appearances (1) - current record 1-0

Comments: Collins has led Northwestern to its first ever NCAA tournament bid and first ever win in the tournament. One has to like all that he learned during 13 years as an assistant under Mike Krzyzewski. Age and long familiarity with the Chicago area and Midwest recruiting should also be attractive.

Questions would be whether he would leave for another school in the same conference and is he seasoned or proven enough for this job? Right now he's coaching in his first ever NCAA tournament game as the head guy. Another question would be the possibility he might be tabbed to replace Mike Krzyzewski when that retirement finally comes about in Durham.


Chris Mack | Head coach, Xavier | Age 47

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Salary: $1.9 million
Buyout: Undisclosed
College record: Overall 184-90 (.672) Xavier (2009-present)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (7), Sweet Sixteen (3)

Comments: Mack is a proven coach who has missed the NCAA tourney just once in his seven years on the job. This regular season wasn't quite as good as projected but Xavier is always a good sleeper Sweet Sixteen pick. Mack has proven he can outrecruit Indiana for Indy area players like Trevon Bluiett and Paul Scruggs.

Mack might be a good personality fit for the Indiana environment and this would be a big boost in salary and prestige in a familiar recruiting region.


Sean Miller | Head coach, Arizona | Age 48

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Salary: $2.9 million
Buyout: Has stake in private "retention fund" bonus type arranged that pays out in May 2020. Currently worth over $4 million.
College record: Overall: 339-112 (.752), Arizona (2009-present) 219-65 (.771), Xavier (2004-09) 120-47 (.719)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (10), Elite Eights (4), Sweet Sixteens (6)

Comments: Probably a little less likely to leave for Indiana than his younger brother Archie but insiders tell it's not a far-fetched possibility that he would like to return to the Midwest and Indiana would be the one Midwest place that might not be viewed as a step down. Young enough still to have a long run at somewhere new.

Miller is a proven recruiter who usually avoids early round losses in the NCAA tournament. Hasn't been able to get past the Elite Eight and maybe Indiana is where he could help make that happen. Got his coaching start in the Big Ten as a grad assistant at Wisconsin back in 1992-93 and recently got some international experience as coach of the USA U19 national team.

Billy Donovan | Head coach, OKC Thunder (NBA) | Age 51

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Salary: $6 million
Buyout: N/A
College record: Overall 502-206 (.709), Florida (1995-2015) 467-186 (.715), Marshall (1994-95) 35-20 (.636)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (14), Final Fours (4), NCAA Titles (2006, 2007)
NBA record: (Oklahoma City) 2016-17: 39-29, 2015-16: 55-27 (Lost in conference finals)

Comments: Donovan left college for the NBA for a perfect opportunity in Oklahoma City. But that job isn't looking as attractive as it once did due to the departure of Kevin Durant and uncertain long term status of Russell Westbrook. If Donovan wants to jump back to college this would be an ideal spot, mirroring the return of his mentor and former coach Rick Pitino.

Donovan doesn't have some of the baggage of Pitino and would be a fast paced, proven style to Bloomington. Even if he's interested, he's likely to stick with the Thunder till playoff elimination, which won't likely come till at least late April.


Chris Holtmann | Head coach, Butler | Age 45

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Salary: Undisclosed
Buyout: Undisclosed
College record: Overall: 113-84 (.574), Butler (2014-present) 69-30 (.697), Gardner-Webb (2010-13) 44-54 (.449)
College postseason: NCAA appearances (3)

Comments: Holtmann has draw high praise since taking over the Butler job. This year he's had the Bulldogs to a second place spot behind Villanova Wildcats and in the AP Top 25 for much of the year. Holtmann's career record is deceiving as he rebuilt the Gardner-Webb program in a 21 game winner then left to join the Butler staff as lead assistant under Brandon Miller. He's got established contacts in Indiana, so he would be up and running with the IU job.

Holtman is still pretty green for the Indiana level with just three NCAA tourney experiences that haven't yet gone past the round of 32. Also some question whether he would want to take on the Indiana fishbowl environment.


Dane Fife | Assistant coach, Michigan State | Age 37

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Salary: ~$250,000
Buyout: N/A
College record: Overall 82-97 (.458), IPFW/Fort Wayne (2005-11) 82-97 (.458)
College postseason: NCAA Appearance - none

Comments: Fife was the youngest head coach in Division I during his tenure in Fort Wayne and now gained invaluable experience under Hall of Fame coach Tom Izzo for six years at Michigan State. As a former Indiana player who coached in the state, he should be able to successfully recruit the state and helped Izzo land the likes of Hoosiers like Gary Harris and Branden Dawson.

Fife took over IPFW not long after it moved to Division I and each of his five seasons there the team improved its record from the prior season culminating in a 18-12 record in his final season in 2010-11. His Mastodon teams were often known for having terrific shooters, including a year where the team ranked 3rd nationally in 3-point percentage. Fife was succeeded by Tony Jasick at IPFW and after two losing seasons, Jasick won 25 games his third season. Jasick left after that season to become head coach at Jacksonville.

There would be some risk in hiring a less than proven guy but Fife has great pedigree. He's the son of a successful high school coach and both played for a Hall of Famer (Bob Knight) and current coaches with one. At Michigan State he's also had plenty of experience recruiting top 25/50 talents across the country. Fife is originally from the greater Detroit suburb of Clarkston and should be able to recruit that talent rich state as well. As a player Fife was known as a stellar defender and was a member of the 2002 team that was co-Big Ten champ and NCAA runner-up.


Mike White | Head coach, Florida | Age 40

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Salary: $2.4 million (w/$400k retention bonus)
Buyout: $1 million
College record: Overall 147-63 (.700), Florida (2015-present) 46-23 (.667), Louisiana Tech 101-40 (.716)
College postseason: NCAA Appearance - this year will be first. Florida did win its first round game.

Comments: White is close to getting his four regular season conference championship in just six years as a Division I head coach. Currently has the Gators approaching a top 10 ranking. On the flip side this Marsh will be his first NCAA tourney as a head coach since his LaTech teams were always upset in the postseason conference tournament.

Might be too early for White to consider a move but he's a bit more of a regional focused recruiter and Indiana would be ideal. The son of Duke athletic director Kevin White. Another notable is his top assistant is Dusty May, a former Indiana manager and assistant coach. White played college ball at Ole Miss, so his roots are pretty tied to the South.



Super long shot candidates


Brad Stevens (Boston Celtics) - make the call but all indications say he's very happy with the Celtics and wouldn't want to go back to the college and the not so fun recruiting world.

Mark Few (Gonzaga) - Another guy who turned down interest in a prior search but can't hurt to call. If he doesn't get to the Final Four this year then he may think he may never at Gonzaga.



Others on our radar


Greg McDermott ( Creighton), Dan Muller (Illinois State), Brad Underwood (Oklahoma State), Randy Wittman (former NBA coach), Mike Woodson (former NBA head coach). Top Stories