Leading Candidates Emerge

Louisiana Tech Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde said in his press conference on Thursday that he was looking for a coach that could promote the program and recruit the southern region of the country.

Mike White, assistant coach at Ole Miss, definitely has the connection to recruit Louisiana. He appears to be the front-runner for the Head Coach position at Louisiana Tech. White played at Ole Miss and has been on the staff there for eight years. White has recruited players, among others, from Searcy, AR, from Jackson, MS, and from Monroe, LA to Ole Miss. The three to four hour radius from Ruston is crucial for the Bulldogs to recruit high school players. Cities like Jackson, MS; Shreveport, LA; Little Rock, AR; and Baton Rouge, LA are heavy on basketball talent and need to be utilized. A wider radius of cities including Memphis, Birmingham, Houston, Dallas, and New Orleans (very important for football) are also not to be overlooked.

White, just in his connection to the Rob Evans-Rod Barnes coaching tree, has numerous ties in the region. White went to high school in New Orleans. Several of his teammates at Ole Miss are from Arkansas, and two of them (Little Rock natives Jason Flanigan and Jason Harrison, coach at Holmes Community College. Just having those kind of close relationships in the area are huge. Barnes, the 2001 Naismith Coach of the Year, has 12 years of head coaching experience at Ole Miss and Georgia State. Barnes led the Rebels to the Sweet Sixteen in 2001 and could be a part of White's staff if he is hired.

White was known as a tough as nails point guard in his playing days. He is known as a relentless recruiter as an assistant coach. He knows he would have to recruit Louisiana first and an assistant with Louisiana ties would almost certainly be in the mix. White himself also has strong ties in Louisiana recruiting circles. Sources close to White say he is highly interested in the job. He has also been mentioned as a candidate for the job at Florida Gulf Coast University.

A second name that may get an interview is former Long Beach State and Iowa State Head Coach Wayne Morgan. Morgan, an assistant at Hofstra, spent 12 years on Jim Boeheim's staff at Syracuse. He has a strong record as a head coach and he has had success in the NCAA tournament. Of course, he was no stranger to the Big Dance during his time at Syracuse. What Morgan lacks in ties to the area, he makes up with valuable experience. Morgan was 55-39 at Iowa State, where he beat Minnesota in the first round of the 2005 NCAA tournament before losing to eventual champion North Carolina. He had an identical 55-39 record in conference play at Long Beach State, where he was 91-84 overall.

Morgan was at Iowa State at the same time that current Louisiana Tech A.D. Bruce Van De Velde was A.D. at Iowa State. It is unclear if an interview has been contacted for an interview, but he does appear to be on the short list of candidates.

Van De Velde also said in his press conference that ties to Louisiana Tech are not a must, but a coach who had played or previously coached at Tech would be examined. Mike McConathy, Tech's second leading career scorer, has been mentioned as a candidate for the Tech job each of the last three times it was open. McConathy has had a great run at Northwestern State and may be happy to stay put.

Check back for the latest as we try to nail down who interviews and when.

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