With the Indiana basketball coaching job now all but officially open, exactly how enticing is the position for potential candidates?
For the first time in 35 years, an Indiana University Athletic Director will conduct a national search for a head basketball coach at Indiana University. That hasn't happened since former IU A.D. Bill Orwig introduced former Army Coach Bob Knight as IU's new head coach on March 27, 1971.
Knight, who replaced Lou Watson, went on to spend 29 years in Bloomington, winning 661 games, a trio of national championships and 11 Big Ten titles. Knight was fired in 2000, less than a month before the start of the 2000-01 season. The timing of his dismissal prompted IU officials to name Mike Davis as the interim head coach for one season, and Davis had the interim tag removed after guiding IU to a 21-13 record in 2001 and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
With Davis out at season's end, IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan will have the chance to pick from a virtually limitless list of candidates. There are a handful of coaches with IU in their backgrounds (Iowa Coach Steve Alford, Bowling Green Coach Dan Dakich, Orlando Magic assistant coach Randy Wittman) and a slew of national names as well (Gonzaga Coach Mark Few, Marquette Coach Tom Crean, former Utah Coach Rick Majerus, among others).
There's a perception among IU fans that the Indiana job remains one of the most attractive in college basketball, rivaling the positions at North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and UCLA. But is that an accurate assessment?
FoxSports college basketball reporter Jeff Goodman thinks so.
"There's no question that it's one of the high-caliber jobs in the country," Goodman said. "They'll be no shortage of candidates willing to throw their names in the hat to try to get in the mix."
For the longest time Bob Knight was synonymous with Indiana University basketball, and it's likely that Davis' successor will continue to measured up against Knight's accomplishments. But Scout.com national recruiting director Dave Telep doesn't think that lessens the appeal of the position.
"It's a very prestigious job," Telep said. "Bob Knight cast an enormous shadow there, but the job itself ranks as one of the most prestigious in the game. That has never changed."
Certainly Indiana's track record of success are drawing points. Indiana has won five national championships, a total that ranks third all-time behind UCLA (11) and Kentucky (7). Indiana also ranks fifth in all-time NCAA Tournament appearances (32), sixth in NCAA Tournament victories (58) and seventh in Final Four appearances (8).
"The tradition is the biggest selling point," Goodman said. "Also, the ability to attract big-time players is a bonus as well."
Despite that long tradition of success, Indiana has fallen on hard times as of late. After making 18 straight trips to the NCAA Tournament from 1986-2003, IU went 14-15 in 2004 and 15-14 in 2005, missing the tournament each season. This season, IU has dropped six of its last seven games and appears to be in serious jeopardy of missing the tournament for a third straight season, something that hasn't happened since IU missed the tourney for four straight years from 1968-71.
According to Goodman, though, Indiana's recent problems might make the job even more appealing to coaching candidates.
"I think it's more attractive," Goodman said. "You always want to follow someone that didn't succeed, because expectations are low. For all intents and purposes, Davis lowered the bar - and whoever comes in will raise it almost by default.
"I'm not sure there is a major drawback (to the Indiana job). Some might look at the negativity that Mike Davis has received as a drawback. However, the passion that the fans in Bloomington and the surrounding areas have is something that doesn't exist in many places around the country - so I personally view it as more of a positive than a negative."
While all of these things would appear to suggest that Greenspan could pretty well have the pick of the coaching litter, Goodman doesn't expect Indiana to look too far from home when it comes time to pick a new coach.
"I'd be surprised if it wasn't an ‘Indiana' guy who becomes the next coach," Goodman said.
How Appealing Is the Indiana Job?
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