So who is interested in the IU coaching vacancy and who isn't?
One day, CBS Sportsline's Gregg Doyel emphatically says Golden State Warrior coach Mike Montgomery is interested if IU is interested. A day later, FoxSports' Frank Burlison is on the record saying Montgomery has no intentions of returning to the college game. There are also those same sort of mixed signals about just how curious coaches like Marquette's Tom Crean, Gonzaga's Mark Few and Tennessee's Bruce Pearl are in the soon-to-be vacant IU job.
That shouldn't come as a great surprise. With college coaches positioning their teams for postseason runs and IU Athletics Director Rick Greenspan being as mum as they come, no one in the know is talking. That's led to plenty of speculation, but very few definitive answers.
With all that said, there is one person who is pretty obviously interested in the job - former IU player and current Orlando Magic assistant coach Randy Wittman.
The 1983 Big Ten MVP and a member of IU's 1981 NCAA Championship team, Wittman is in his 14th year as a coach at the NBA level. That's included a two-year run as the head coach with Cleveland (62-102, 1999-01), along with assistant coaching positions with Indiana, Dallas, Minnesota and Orlando.
The 46-year-old appears to have initiated some level of contact with Greenspan to let him know of his interest, and he's recently received the endorsement of former teammate and current Atlanta Hawk head coach Mike Woodson. While some have suggested Wittman has actually interviewed for the job, it's more likely that he's had some informal discussions with Greenspan about the vacancy, and a formal interview would still be a little ways away.
A product of Indianapolis' Ben Davis H.S., Wittman was a two-time Academic All-American at IU, is a member of the IU Athletics Hall of Fame and is a member of the school's Silvery Anniversary basketball squad. He was also a first round NBA Draft pick in 1983 (22nd overall) by Atlanta. He averaged 7.4 points during his nine-year NBA career, which included five years in Atlanta along with stints with Sacramento and Indiana.
Wittman's best NBA season was 1986, when he averaged 12.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 34.1 minutes for Atlanta. Wittman was the second-leading scorer on that team (behind Dominique Wilkins' 30.3 points/game), which went 50-32 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. During the Hawks' postseason run, Wittman averaged 17.8 points and 3.3 assists per game.
What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: Every coach Greenspan has hired at IU has had ties to the state, and Wittman is an Indianapolis product who is one of the all-time greats produced by the program. He scored 1,302 points during his IU career (1980-83) and averaged 19.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists during his Big Ten MVP season in 1983.
When you look to football, former NFL coach Pete Carroll made the adjustment to college when he was named the head coach at USC and he's rebuilt the Trojan program into arguably the best in college football. Perhaps Wittman could do the same with an IU program that hasn't had top-five success in recent years, but is still considered an elite program by most in the business.
What Makes Him a Longshot: He's never coached at the collegiate level. Most think that head coaching experience at the collegiate level is one of the most important criteria that Rick Greenspan is looking for, and Wittman doesn't have that on his resume. Including his time as a player in the 1980s, Wittman has spent the last 23 years either playing or coaching at the professional level, and there's no question the collegiate game has changed dramatically since he played at IU in the early 1980s.
While his name recognition and Indiana roots would certainly give him credibility on the recruiting trail, he's never actually developed any sort of recruiting contacts. He'd also have to put together a coaching staff from scratch. He certainly knows plenty of people in the business, but again, most of his direct contact has presumably been with NBA coaches and assistants. He'd have to bring in two or three assistants who have the sort of college coaching and recruiting experiences that he lacks.
HoosierNation.com's Take: With all due respect to Mike Woodson, his endorsement of Wittman seems to be one that's based more on "IU family" ties and loyalty to a former teammate than what makes the most sense for the IU program. While Wittman is considered to be an excellent Xs and Os coach, his lack of experience at the college level – particularly with the lifeblood of college program, recruiting - would make this an extremely surprising hire. While the support for Iowa head coach Steve Alford has been lukewarm among IU fans, most would probably agree that if Greenspan wants to limit his pool to the "IU Family," Alford is the best choice. Alford has spent 15 years as a college head coach, including the last seven at Iowa.
COACH SEARCH: Could Wittman Work Magic At IU?
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