Rick Majerus has been out of coaching for more than two years now, but it's obvious the former Ball State, Marquette and Utah head coach is itching to return to the coaching ranks.
A year ago Majerus accepted the USC job at mid-season after Henry Bibby stepped down, only to walk away from the job three days later. He's been rumored to be interested in both the IU and Missouri jobs this year, and many thought his on-air breakdown of the Hoosiers during their loss to Iowa last weekend was an impromptu job interview for the Hoosiers' vacancy.
It's hard to argue with Majerus' success. He's compiled a 422-147 record in 20 years as a head coach, including a 323-95 mark during his 15 seasons at Utah. His career 74.2% winning percentage ranks among the top-20 all-time among Division I head coaches. He was named the WAC Coach of the Year five times, and he was selected as the UPI's National Coach of the Year in 1991 and the John Wooden Coach of the Year in 1998. He's also earned 15 postseason invitations in his 20 seasons as a head coach, including a trip to the 1998 national championship game. He's made four trips to the Sweet 16 and was always widely considered one of the best minds in the game.
Majerus also has strong Midwest ties. He is a native of Sheboygan, Wis., and is a graduate of Marquette University. He spent 15 years coaching at Marquette, including the first 12 seasons as an assistant coach. Those ties are why he reportedly came very close to leaving Utah after the 2001 season to take the Wisconsin job before eventually decided to stay out West. But it's clear that he wants to get back into coaching, and there won't be a better job available in the off-season than the IU position.
Health concerns, though, remain an issue. That's what prompted Majerus to step down as the Utah coach after 15 seasons, and most believe that was also the reason he decided to walk away from the USC job as well. While he's said he's been given the nod to get back into coaching by his doctors, one has to wonder if a return to the sidelines will prompt him to return to some of his old dietary habits.
What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: Unlike candidates like Rick Barnes, Tom Crean and Thad Matta, IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan wouldn't need to worry about getting into a bidding war with Majerus' current employer. While ESPN probably likes the work he's been doing for the network as a color analyst, they don't like him $1 million well. In addition, there would be no need to wait until after the regular or postseason to approach Majerus about the opening. He's ready and waiting as soon as Greenspan comes calling. Finally, it's hard to argue with Majerus success everywhere he's been. Despite being unable to recruit on a national level at Utah, he was still able to make the Utes a consistent top-20 team annually. With virtually no limitations at a program like Indiana, it would be intriguing to see what Majerus could accomplish.
What Makes Him a Longshot: Not only does Majerus have serious health concerns, but he's also 58 years old. Rick Greenspan isn't looking for someone who can step in for the next 5-8 years to lead the program. Instead he's looking for someone who can be on the Hoosier sidelines for 10-plus seasons. Health concerns have already forced Majerus to walk from his last two coaching jobs, and Indiana doesn't need that sort of thing happening for a third time. One of Mike Davis' biggest issues in recent years has been the challenge of trying to recruit elite players to Bloomington when there was constant speculation about his job security. That would likely still be an issue with Majerus, who doesn't figure to be someone who's still coaching into his late 60s.
HoosierNation.com's Take: There's no way around it – Majerus isn't a good fit for Indiana. His on-the-court accomplishments are undeniable, and he will likely return to the sidelines somewhere this summer. But Indiana is in need of a long-term solution to its coaching situation, and there are no guarantees Majerus would be physically up to the demands of the job three years from now, let alone in 10. It's unfortunate that health concerns are what keep Majerus from doing something that he obviously loves and is successful at. But that's the situation he finds himself in, and it wouldn't make any sense for IU to bring him in as Mike Davis' successor.
COACHING SEARCH: Is Majerus A Good Fit?
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