Tony Bennett - There probably isn't a coach that I hear more about when it comes to the IU vacancy than the second-year Washington State coach. There were initially some who suggested that he might not be interested because of his sister Kathi's departure from IU early in Greenspan's tenure, but those reports were inaccurate. She departed on good terms and there don't appear to be any hard feelings between the Bennett family and IU. While he's only in his second year, he's already won one National Coach of the Year award and he's done a great job at a difficult place to win. He's also proven himself to be a very good recruiter for a decade, and he has a sparkling clean reputation for following the rules which is an absolute must.
Steve Alford - The first-year New Mexico coach would love to return to his alma mater, and he has to love the make-up of the search committee. Many are people with long-time ties to the university, and that's a group that is more likely to welcome the thought of an "IU family" candidate. Committee members Jerry Yeagley (45 years of involvement with IU), Bruce Jaffee (37 years) and Harry Gonso (18 years) were all serving IU in some capacity when Alford played in Bloomington, while James Wimbush has been at IU since 1991 and Wayne Radford is a former player who has been employed at Bloomington-based Cook Surgical, Inc., for 23 years. Add in former Alumni Association Director Ken Beckley (who undoubtedly heard from many IU alums a couple of years who clamored for Alford's hiring), and Alford could have some support. He would have done himself some good by getting into the NCAA tourney this year (New Mexico finished 24-8 but is playing in the NIT), but he's aided tremendously by the fact this isn't Rick Greenspan's decision. I think he'll be back in the discussion.
Bruce Pearl - - The Tennessee coach has appeared the emerge as THE big-name candidate that IU might be interested in. He has Indiana ties from his days at Southern Indiana, tons of personality and has proven he will win and win big wherever he goes. He'd cost a boatload of money – probably in the $2.5 million range – but he has a track record that would suggest it would be money well spent.
Rick Greenspan making every effort to keep this search process quiet - While some might want to question a coaching selection or two that he's made during his IU tenure, no one can dispute his ability to keep things quiet. That's virtually impossible to do in the age of the internet, but word of the hiring of Terry Hoeppner and Kelvin Sampson didn't surface until less than 24 hours before they were introduced. He does it by keeping himself, his candidates, and his staff quiet. Candidates have been instructed to keep their interest and interviews quiet or they'll jeopardize their chances at the job. With department staff, rumor has it that he's delivered a stern warning to some Athletic Department staff members that what's seen in Assembly Hall, stays in Assembly Hall.
This process being cloaked in secrecy as it was two years ago - Greenspan has gone to great lengths to keep his various coaching searches quiet, refusing to even reveal those who were aiding him in his basketball coaching search two years ago. But he's not in charge this time around, which means he won't be able to control all of the information that makes it into the public domain. While Committee head Harry Gonso said no committee member will have any public comments until after a new coach is introduced, there are an awful lot of potential sources of leaks this time around.
Scott Skiles - Rumors have circulated around Chicago that Indiana is interested in speaking with the former Bulls' coach. It would be funny to think the day after IU search committee chairman Harry Gonso said no one will comment publicly about the search that a name would be leaked, but that's the story according to the Chicago Sun Times and Chicago Tribune. While there are some reasons to understand some degree of interest in the Plymouth, Ind., native whose children live in Bloomington, ultimately I don't see IU going this way. With everything IU has gone through with Sampson, it's probably going to want someone with a proven track record of doing things the right way at the collegiate level. Skiles doesn't have that on his resume his entire coaching career has been spent in the pro ranks. If IU wanted to go after a pro coach, it's probably going to feel better about IU alums Randy Wittman and Mike Woodson.
Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt - As soon as word came out a 10-member search committee headed by someone other than IU's athletic director, the odds of the Commodores' coach winding up in Bloomington plummeted. His in was always going to be Greenspan, the man who hired him at Illinois State more than a decade ago. Now that Greenspan is only a voice as opposed to a driving force in the selection process, Stallings has to be considered a real long shot. Maybe that would change if Vanderbilt made a run to the Elite Eight or Final Four, but right now he has some negatives that would be awfully tough for the committee to get past.
Other Names, Rumors and Thoughts:
- one of the biggest negatives about a 10-member search committee, in my opinion, is the fact that suddenly no one can be held accountable if the choice winds up being a dud. That's been one of the biggest sources of frustration for many in the aftermath of Sampson's resignation, and there doesn't appear to be a way to hold anyone responsible once again…while the committee was just announced Monday, expect this process to move quickly. If IU has any hopes of keeping '08 recruits Devin Ebanks and Terrell Holloway, they need a coach in place before the spring signing period starts. Two years ago IU had a new coach in place exactly two weeks after it bowed out of the NCAA tourney, so expect the process to move just as quickly this time around…while we first reported Tim Floyd's interest in the IU job last week, I don't think he'll be given serious consideration.
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