IU COACHING CANDIDATE: Mike Montgomery

Mike Montgomery flopped during a two-year run the NBA, but was one of the elite coaches in the college game during his 18 years at Stanford. So what makes him a viable candidate for the IU vacancy? What makes him a long shot? HoosierNation.com has the answers...

Indiana is hoping for the trifecta with its next men's basketball coach – someone who wins, graduates players and is a stickler for the NCAA rules.

With that criteria in mind, there aren't many more qualified candidates than former Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery.

The 61-year-old Montgomery spent 18 years building Stanford into a national power. Despite having to deal with more stringent entrance requirements than many of his Pac-10 counterparts, Montgomery compiled a 393-167 record from 1986-04, won four Pac-10 regular season championships and led the Cardinal to 12 NCAA tourney berths. That included 10 consecutive trips to conclude his Stanford run, highlighted by a trip to the 1998 Final Four.

A two-time National Coach of the Year, Montgomery had the Cardinals ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point in three of his final five seasons - 2000, 2001 and 2004. In his final season he guided the Cardinals to a 30-2 record and a perfect 26-0 start, which ended with a loss to Washington in the regular season finale.

There was never any trouble with the NCAA as far as rules compliance during Montgomery's tenure, and he managed to strike a strong balance between attracting top-flight talent and maintaining a 90 percent plus graduation rate. Montgomery coached nine first-round NBA Draft picks at Stanford, a list that includes Josh Childress, Curtis Borchardt, Jarron Collins, Jason Collins, Adam Keefe, Brevin Knight, Todd Lichti, Mark Madsen and Casey Jacobson.

Montgomery's success piqued the interest of NBA franchises, and Golden Gate lured him away from the college game in the summer of 2004 with a four-year, $10 million deal. But like other college-turned-pro coaches such as Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tim Floyd and Lon Kruger, Montgomery flopped in the NBA. After back-to-back 34-48 seasons in 2005 and 2006, Golden State bought out the final two years of his contract and turned the program over to Don Nelson.

Montgomery has been out of coaching for two years, serving as the Assistant to Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby. It's a part-time position he's held since September, and not one that would get in the way of a return to the coaching profession.

What Makes Him a Viable Candidate: There's a lot to like on Montgomery's resume. When there was a special basketball talent who met Stanford's academic guidelines, Montgomery usually was able to sign him. He was also able to develop a slew of others who weren't national-caliber recruits, but turned out to be outstanding college basketball players. The end result was a program that was neck-and-neck with Arizona as the elite team in the Pac-10. While Stanford is 24-4 this season and ranked in the top 10, the Cardinal missed Montgomery in his first three seasons away from the program, going 52-40 and failing to make it out of the NCAA first round.

While Montgomery was unable make his mark in the NBA, other college-turned-pro flops have returned to the college game and enjoyed plenty of success. Pitino re-built the Louisville program and took them to the Final Four, while Calipari has breathed life into Memphis and has them ranked among the nation's elite. Kruger (UNLV) and Floyd (USC) have also enjoyed immediate success since returning to the college game. Montgomery would have a great chance of doing the same if he decides to get back into coaching.

What Makes Him a Longshot: Montgomery is 61 years old, so he likely doesn't have 10-15 years of coaching left in him. In addition, he's a West Coast guy. His entire 26-year head coaching career has been spent on the West Coast (he went 154-77 in eight years at Montana before taking over at Stanford). Rick Greenspan's track record has generally been to bring in coaches with Midwest and/or Indiana ties, and Montgomery doesn't have any of those.

HoosierNation.com's Take: Montgomery told the Stanford Daily last month that there's "still a lot of basketball in my blood," suggesting he is interested in getting back into coaching. Montgomery has been biding his time working in the Stanford Athletic Department and occasionally doing some broadcast work for Comcast and Fox Sports Net, but that's not going to give him his basketball fix. While he's still around the Stanford program, he's not a regular at practice so that he gives current Stanford Coach Trent Johnson his space. All of that adds up to a coach who is itching for an opportunity to get back into the profession. That opportunity won't come at the professional level, where Montgomery admitted to being frustrated by the lack of control that head coaches have over players and their teams. Montgomery sounds like someone who wants to coach in college again if the right situation presents itself, and it's hard to imagine a better situation surfacing than IU. While his age is a negative, he could easily have another 8-10 years in him. He's a proven commodity that Indiana should give very serious consideration to hiring.

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