IU COACHING CANDIDATE: Kevin Stallings

If there's one person Rick Greenspan will undoubtedly talk to about the IU coaching vacancy, it's Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings. So what makes him a viable candidate for the IU vacancy? What makes him a long shot? HoosierNation.com has the answers...

If there's one person Rick Greenspan will undoubtedly talk to about the IU coaching vacancy, it's Vanderbilt Coach Kevin Stallings.

Whether that's as a candidate or as a confidant is yet to be seen, but the eighth-year Vandy Coach and Greenspan have a long track record together. When he was the athletic director at Illinois State Greenspan hired Stallings to take over the Redbird program in 1993. In six seasons at the Normal, Ill., school Stallings went 123-63, won back-to-back Missouri Valley regular season and postseason titles in 1997 and 1998 and earned four postseason berths.

Both Greenspan and Stallings departed in 1999, with Stallings heading to Vanderbilt. In eight seasons at the SEC school Stallings has amassed a 146-101 mark and earned a trip to the 2004 Sweet 16. His teams have won at least 20 games in three of the last four seasons, highlighted by this season's 24-5 mark and has had the Commodores ranked in the nation's top 20.

Stallings' roots are in the Midwest. A native of Collinsville, Ill., Stallings spent one year at Belleville (Ill.) J.C. before transferring to Purdue. He spent three seasons playing for the Boilermakers, helping the team to the 1980 Final Four and a pair of trips to the NIT Final Four.

After graduating Boilermaker Coach Gene Keady offered him a spot on the Purdue staff, and Stallings helped Purdue to a 140-44 record during his six seasons on the sidelines. Stallings then left to join Roy Williams at Kansas, and the Jayhawks went 132-38 and earned a pair of trips to the Final Four during his five seasons in Lawrence. That success prompted Greenspan to hire him at Illinois State, where he won at least 20 games in four of his six seasons.

While Vanderbilt might not be considered among the elite programs in the SEC let alone the nation, Stallings is certainly making a top-of-the-line salary. Stallings is reportedly bringing in $1.33 million annually, a total that ranks him among the higher paid coaches in the country.

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: Greenspan has been scorched by the decision to hire Sampson – whether it was his decision or someone else's. Most believe the IU AD's job security is tenuous at best, and he can't afford to make another mistake with this hire. Greenspan's track record on hiring men's basketball coaches is mixed at best – he hit on Stallings, but then flopped when he named assistant coach Tom Richardson to replace Stallings as the Redbirds' coach. Greenspan left for Army one month after hiring Richardson, who went 56-64 in four seasons before being let go in 2003. Richardson was the first Redbird coach since the 1920s to amass a career losing record at the Missouri Valley school. At Army Greenspan hired former IU player and Evansville Coach Jim Crews to replace Pat Harris in 2002, and Crews' teams have gone 45-92 in the last five seasons. Greenspan then presumably picked Sampson (or had him picked for him), who's success on the court has been greatly overshadowed by the trouble he's landed himself and IU in off the court. Greenspan would likely feel most comfortable with Stallings, someone he knows and trusts. This pick also has to be successful for Greenspan's long-term job security, and the one basketball coach he's hired who's been successful is Stallings.

What Makes Him a Longshot: Stallings was rumored as a possibility at Ohio State, Iowa and Michigan in recent years, and each of those programs opted to go in another direction. Indiana might be facing a trip to Seattle to appear in front of the NCAA Infractions Committee in a couple of months, but one would think that if someone isn't good enough for Iowa and Michigan, then he's not good enough for IU, either. His record at Vanderbilt has been good, but not great, and he was actually considered to be on the hot seat a year ago before he led the Commodores to a 23-win season and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen. Stallings also has those Purdue ties on his resume, something that many IU fans think should disqualify anyone from taking over in Bloomington. Admittedly it's been 20 years since Stallings worked in West Lafayette, but all things equal Hoosier fans would probably prefer to see someone with either IU ties or no ties to either of the two major state universities.

HoosierNation.com's Take: As badly as Rick Greenspan might want to hire Stallings, I'd be surprised if this is the direction IU goes. Hiring a former Purdue player and assistant coach will be looked at skeptically by Hoosier fans, and Greenspan's popularity rating right now is probably at an all-time low. Stallings isn't viewed as a big-name coach or as an up-and-comer, so he wouldn't be a very exciting hire. While he's enjoyed a solid track record of success, Stallings would probably be viewed as Greenspan's best friend in the coaching fraternity instead of the best available candidate. That wouldn't go over very well, and Greenspan can't afford to further inflame the Hoosier Nation.

Peegs.com Top Stories