Who Is Gregg Marshall?
Gregg Marshall began his coaching career as an assistant at his alma mater, Randolph-Macon College, where he spent two seasons before heading to Belmont Abbey for another year.
It was here that he got his big coaching break. With an opening on his staff, College of Charleston head coach John Kresse hired Marshall as an assistant, where he would stay eight years. During Marshall's time there, the Cougars received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 1994 and consecutive NIT invitations in 1995 and 1996.
He also landed several highly-regarded in-state prospects including Marion Busby, Thaddeous Delaney, and Indiana Pacer point guard Anthony Johnson.
In 1996 Marshall left the College of Charleston and served as an assistant coach at Marshall University for two seasons, as he helped guide the Thundering Herd to the 1997 Southern Conference championship.
Following the 1997 season, he was hired to build a program at Winthrop.
In Marshall's first year as a head coach on any level, Winthrop compiled a 21-8 overall record including a 9-1 Big South Conference slate and the school's first NCAA Tournament appearance. Winthrop's improvement of 14 victories over the 1997-98 year was one of the biggest turnarounds for NCAA Division I programs.
Marshall also directed the Eagles to a school-record 12-game winning streak during January and February. He did this despite having his team picked to finish last in the conference in nearly every poll and national publication. He was rewarded by being voted the 1999 Big South Coach of the Year.
"He really turned it around," Winthrop AD Tom Hickman said prior to Marshall's final season at the school. "I think he put our program to where, I think at least, we have the best program in our league.
"It really provided a shot in the arm for the entire department and other programs. I think that's due to a lot of the exposure we've got from the men's basketball program."
A four-time Big South Coach of the Year, Marshall won six regular season titles and seven tournament titles at Winthrop, leading the team to seven NCAA Tournament appearances and the program's first NCAA win in 2007 (a victory over Notre Dame). He finished his career at Winthrop with a 194-83 record, and a 104-24 mark in the Big South.
Following the 2006-2007 when Marshall led Winthrop to 29 victories and a perfect 14-0 Big South record, he left the school to take over as head coach at Wichita State, one of the top mid-major programs in the country.
Marshall built on his reputation as a program builder in Wichita. Taking over a team that had finished sixth in the Missouri Valley, things started slow for Marshall as the Shockers finished 11-20 overall and 4-14 in his first season.
However, the next year his team won 17 games and reached postseason play (CBI Tournament), and he followed that up with 25 wins in 2009-2010 and 29 wins and a NIT title his fourth season.
From that point on, he dominated.
Four regular season titles and a conference tournament title in the next five seasons (with a second place finish). Seven straight years of 25+ wins... five straight NCAA appearances, including a Final Four in 2013 (as a 9 seed) and a Sweet Sixteen in 2015.
This year the Shockers are currently 25-4 overall and 15-1 in league play. He's winning... it's what Marshall has proven he can do.
What Makes Him A Viable Candidate?
He's proven, he's a fiery competitor, and he has had a great deal of success at Winthrop and Wichita State.
What sticks out the most about Marshall is his competitiveness. Cocky and arrogant, Marshall is confident in his abilities and has the track record to suggest he should feel that way.
"He was relatively young when we first hired him, and he is an emotional-type coach both on the floor and off the floor," Hickman said. "He shows that enthusiasm in our department and staff meetings, and I would say he's just a very enthusiastic person."
Marshall, 53, still has plenty of coaching ahead of him. He has 19 years of head coaching experience and also spent several seasons on the bench as an assistant under legendary mid-major head coach John Kresse. Marshall fits Yow's stated criteria with his teams always excelling defensively and exerting maximum effort.
Also, Marshall has built multiple programs, which is a definite plus. He created a dynasty at Winthrop, developing it into the premier program in the Big South Conference. In his final season at Winthrop, the Eagles finished No. 22 in both the AP and Coaches' Final Polls. All four regular season losses came to Top 25 opponents, with two of the games decided by single-digit margins. He left Winthrop in much better shape than it was in when he inherited it.
Marshall has done the same at Wichita State, and he has shown that he has what it takes to lay the foundation for a successful program and sustain that success after reaching the pinnacle of his conference.
Marshall has recruiting ties in the region and given he has spent nearly all of his career in the south he could be looking to return from the midwest.
What Makes Him A Longshot?
Several reasons. First of all, his personality has been mentioned as a potential concern. He can clash with the media and his cocky persona doesn't always go over well with athletic directors. There were reports that he had poor interviews in previous years, and that is why he didn't leave for a high-major job when he was at Winthrop.
Also, he is compensated extremely well. Easily the highest-paid mid-major coach in the country, Marshall makes 3 million per year on a contract that will escalate to $3.5 million in 2018. NC State would likely need to pay him nearly 4 million per year to land his services, and just five coaches nationally currently earn at least that much annually.
Then you factor in the previous search. NC State and Marshall held serious discussions regarding the job in 2011, and things didn't work out. Financial issues? Timing not right? The answer is probably a mix of several factors, but NC State might now want to travel down that road again after not being able to land Marshall in 2011.
Finally, there are concerns over can he recruit well enough to win in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Marshall has never coached on the high-major level, and he's never even been associated with a high-major program.
Does he have what it takes to land elite talent, the talent needed to win banners in the ACC? Can he handle the media, the boosters, the pressure and expectations that comes with managing a high-major program?
Pack Pride's Take
It's a risk, but if you're going to go the mid-major route, Marshall is certainly one of your best options.
When programs swing for the fences during coaching searches they normally strike out and end up inking a mid-major coach. Those coaches are risks, but all coaches are. What Marshall has proven is that he will build his program and he will win a lot of games, and at a relatively young age he still has plenty of upside.
For more of our take on Gregg Marshall, click here.