Finding the Next Coach

Now that Herb Sendek is moving on, athletic director Lee Fowler will move fast to find his replacement.

So who will that be? Here is a list of the potential candidates:

Rick Barnes
Status:
Current Texas head coach
Why he's a candidate:
Several reasons.

Rick Barnes
He's a North Carolina native (as is his wife), he has ACC coaching experience (Clemson), he's proven he can win at a high national level, and (something most endearing to State fans) he has no love for Chapel Hill. Since he was hired in 1998, he has taken Texas to eight straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a Final Four run in 2002. But after an Elite Eight run in this year's tourney, he could be facing some roster attrition to the NBA, and a fresh start in the ACC could be a good move for him. Barnes has been at the top of many State fans' lists for some time.

Chances of landing him: Just barely above slim. He already makes over $1 million a year, and Texas is working hard to lock him up for a longer contract. Also, after the comments he made in support of Sendek a couple of weeks ago, he may be reluctant to take the step at this time.

John Calipari
Status:
Current Memphis head coach
Why he's a candidate:
He's also a proven winner on a national level, after bringing UMass to national prominence in the 90s and getting Memphis a number one seed in this year's NCAA Tournament. Another long time State fan wish list topper, Calipari made his mark on a couple of mid-tier conferences, but he might have been waiting for an opportunity to break into a conference like the ACC.

Chances of landing him: Fair. Like Barnes, Calipari makes over $1 million a year. He recently signed an extension that would keep him in Memphis through 2010 and Athletic Director R.C. Johnson won't let him go without a fight. However, Calipari has said that he'd listen if the right offer came along, and it has been rumored that he is not happy with the current state of Conference USA.

Jay Wright
Status:
Current Villanova head coach

Jay Wright
Why he's a candidate: A proven winner with good recruiting connections, Wright is a valuable commodity. The Wildcats were a number one seed in the tournament this year, and his name continues to get mention in any major coaching search. It has also been rumored that Wright is a huge fan of Jim Valvano and is intrigued by the NC State coaching job.

Chances of landing him: Slim to none. Wright recently signed a contract extension that would keep him at Villanova through the 2012-13 season. He looks to be out of range at this point, but it's always worth taking a shot with a guy like Wright.

Billy Gillispie
Status:
Current Texas A&M head coach
Why he's a candidate:
A unanimous choice as Big 12 Coach of the Year, Gillispie was the architect of one of the greatest turnarounds in A&M history after doing the same at UTEP. In two years, he turned the Aggies from a winless Big 12 program into a NCAA tournament team (it was their first appearance in the tourney in almost 20 years). He coaches with passion and is a relentless recruiter – both characteristics that are mandatory for this position.

Chances of landing him: Fair to good. Gillispie is under contract to make close to $1 million this year, and A&M is working on locking him up for long time. However, there may be a clause in his contract that will let him out only if he is hired at an ACC school. He would seem to be an ideal candidate given his strengths and proven ability to build a winner. The question is, will he get a call from Lee Fowler?

Billy Gillispie

Mark Few
Status:
Current Gonzaga head coach
Why he's a candidate:
He took over a Gonzaga program that was thrust into the national spotlight in the late 90s, and managed to keep it there by making it a brand name in a small conference. He gets mentioned often in coaching searches because he appears to be affordable (reportedly makes about $600,000 per year).

Chances of landing him: Slim. Few is comfortable where he is. If UCLA couldn't get him out of Spokane, there is little chance he would jump at the chance to move to the East Coast considering his West Coast roots.

John Beilein
Status:
Current West Virginia head coach

John Beilein
Why he's a candidate: He's had a great deal of success in using a spread offense similar to what Sendek has been running at State over the past five years. He's a proven winner who currently ranks among the top 20 in victories among current Division I coaches. Hiring Beilein would probably yield the smoothest transition because the current players and incoming recruits would be familiar with his offensive system.

Chances of landing him: Slim to fair. Beilein is signed through the 2011-12 season, and it would take some strong overtures to get him out of Morgantown, but anything can happen. There are some who feel he would love to jump to the Atlantic Coast Conference. As mentioned, his contract will likely prevent a move from happening. Beilein would have to pay West Virginia $3 million if he leaves this year. That's $500,000 per season for the remainder of the contract, which goes through 2012. Any university attempting to lure Beilein away from West Virginia likely would be expected to pay the buyout.

Mark Turgeon
Status:
Current Wichita State head coach
Why he's a candidate:
One of the top "up-and-coming" coaches in the Division I ranks, Turgeon has served under the likes of Larry Brown and Roy Williams. Observers have speculated that he has been looking for an opportunity to break into the big-time national scene, and he may have it now with the Sweet 16 finish he had with WSU this year.

Chances of landing him: Fair to good. Turgeon signed a contract extension last year that would last through 2010. But with a total compensation package under $500,000, he's bound to be snatched up by a high-major program soon. He would be a solid candidate should NC State go the mid-major route.

Dana Altman
Status:
Current Creighton head coach

Dana Altman
Why he's a candidate: Like Turgeon, Altman is another popular name that appears to be climbing through the ranks. In 12 years at Creighton, he has enjoyed eight straight seasons of 20 wins or more, and could make the move to a big-time program if the price is right.

Chances of landing him: Fair. Altman has been mentioned as a candidate for several jobs over the past few years, but has turned down some big ones, including Tennessee last year. The reason may be because he is comfortable at Creighton making roughly $700,000 a year.

Tom Crean
Status:
Current Marquette head coach
Why he's a candidate: Simply put, he is one of the top young coaches in the ranks today. After coming to Marquette in 1999 from Tom Izzo's staff at Michigan State, Crean parlayed a successful run (including a 2003 Final Four appearance) into a long term contract that could make him difficult to obtain, but not impossible.

Chances of landing him: Slim to fair. Crean's contract is believed to be worth about $1.2 million annually, and he made just over $1.6 million in total income this past year. That puts him among the highest paid coaches in the nation. Would NC State pony up the cash to pull him away from a Big East program? More importantly, would he be worth that kind of cash?

Frank Haith

Frank Haith
Status: Current Miami head coach
Why he's a candidate: A North Carolina native (grew up in Burlington), Haith grew up a fan of the Wolfpack. Haith has expressed interest in the NC State job in the past, and it is being speculated that he has already expressed his interest this time around. He's had modest success at Miami, but he is known as a relentless recruiter and he wouldn't be afraid to battle the likes of Duke and North Carolina.

Chances of landing him: Good. Haith would certainly jump at the offer, and given his age, background, and recruiting ability, expect him to be a legitimate candidate.

Jim Larranaga
Status:
Current George Mason head coach
Why he's a candidate: This year's Final Four run for George Mason has turned many heads, and garnered a great deal of respect for Larranaga. He also has strong ACC ties (he was a former Virginia assistant).

Chances of landing him: Fair to good. He would certainly consider the job if NC State offered, and George Mason would fight to keep him (his current contract runs through 2009), but would State really offer him based on one miraculous run through the NCAA Tournament? His age (56) may also be a factor that keeps him on the B-List.

Gregg Marshall
Status:
Current Winthrop head coach

Gregg Marshall
Why he's a candidate: He's relatively young, he's dynamic and he's successful. His list of accomplishments at Winthrop is impressive, and he will be a good catch for a high-major program some day.

Chances of landing him: Good. Many people in the know have been lobbying for an upgrade in Marshall's coaching venue. But will successful campaigns in the Big South translate into a spot on the big stage? State fans might be under-whelmed if he ends up as one of the final choices.

Mike Davis
Status:
Ex-Indiana head coach
Why he's a candidate: He's available, and he's had moderate success in a program covered in the shadow of Bobby Knight.

Chances of landing him: Good. There is no doubt Davis would like a fresh start in the ACC, but is his resume enough to keep fans happy?

Former and current NC State assistants
Larry Hunter
Status:
Current Western Carolina head coach Why he's a candidate: This former assistant under Sendek was credited with helping to bring in the spread offense currently in use. He was also a key motivator on the bench and a respected mentor among the players.

Chances of landing him: Fair to good. Would he want to take over for Sendek so soon after his departure? He likely would, but hiring Hunter wouldn't be a popular hire among Wolfpack fans.

Sean Miller
Sean Miller
Status:
Current Xavier head coach
Why he's a candidate: Another former Sendek assistant, Miller coaches with an enthusiasm that endeared him to State fans prior to taking the job at Xavier.

Chances of landing him: Fair to good. His contract runs through the 2008-09 season, but he has always kept his eye on this particular job opening. However, he also might think twice about filling the spot of his former mentor so soon.

Larry Harris
Status:
Current NC State assistant coach
Why he's a candidate: He's an experienced assistant that knows the players and knows the system. Also, he's an excellent recruiter.

Chances of landing him: Good. He'll likely follow Sendek to Arizona State, but would likely stay in Raleigh if Fowler chose to go in that direction. The fact that he has never been a head coach will probably prevent Harris from being considered.

Former NC State players
It is unknown how far Fowler will go into this well. Nate McMillan (Portland Trail Blazers head coach) is untouchable, and has stated on many occasions that he is not interested in the job. Sidney Lowe (Detroit Pistons assistant) might be interested, but his lack of success at the NBA level would be a detriment. Derek Whittenburg (Fordham) and Monte Towe (New Orleans) could get looks, but their coaching experience leaves them a bit down the ladder.


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