How wide can OSU cast coaching search net?

THIS IS HOW these things go. In the early days of a coaching search, one guy is identified more than anyone else as the school's top candidate, usually through anonymous sourcing. For Oregon State, that guy is Ben Howland. But who else might be on the Beaver radar? Here are six other candidates to keep an eye on...

But first, let's talk about Ben Howland.

Bob De Carolis said during Monday's news conference that he wouldn't respond to speculation regarding coaching candidates. That hasn't slowed down the media at all, many of whom have reported Howland is De Carolis' top choice.

Had the move to fire Craig Robinson been made after the season, some six weeks ago, this would have seemed like a non-starter. Howland was the hot coaching candidate out there and was said to be thoroughly uninterested in taking over a rebuilding job like the one at Oregon State. Indeed, he was far more interested in Marquette, Missouri or Tennessee.

But all three of those schools went in a different direction. And until Monday's news conference in Corvallis, it appeared Howland would sit out another year. But Howland wants to get back into coaching now, not nest year. And considering a rebuilding job, but in the Pac-12, may have changed his thinking.

Maybe he just wants to talk. Maybe he just doesn't want to say no without considering all the angles. Maybe it's still a long shot for Howland to come to Corvallis.

If OSU feels comfortable Howland won't bolt in the near future, and if Howland feels comfortable he can turn the Beavs into a winning program, and if the money can be worked out, this could happen.

But that's also a lot of ifs. And time and time again in a coaching search, we've seen a guy who is reported to be all but hired, and then not end up being the guy.

So who else might Oregon State be looking at?

Here are six people we believe could be logical candidates to be the next basketball coach at Oregon State. Three are sitting head coaches at lower-tier conferences, and three are assistant coaches at top programs and have roots in the Northwest.


Kenny Payne, age 47. In his fourth year as an assistant at Kentucky following six years as an assistant under Ernie Kent at Oregon. Won national title as a player at Louisville in 1986, and played four seasons in the NBA and one in the CBA in Washington State with the Tri-City Chinook. A native of Laurel, Miss.
Case for: Knows the Pac-12. Is highly regarded nationally as a recruiter, and widely thought to be a prime candidate to extend John Calipari's long tree of assistants becoming college head coaches. NBA background enticing to recruits.
Case against: No head-coaching experience.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Highly intriguing. Straight from the biggest of the big time, has a Pac-10 background, NBA chops, ready to prove himself as main guy.



Travis DeCuire, age 42. Completed his sixth season as an assistant to Mike Montgomery at Cal and despite Monty's endorsement, he didn't get the Cal job and wasn't retained by the new coach. Previously spent five years at Old Dominion with Blaine Taylor. Was head coach of Green River College in Seattle and a successful AAU and prep coach (Sammamish High). Considered top notch at player development, particularly in tutoring point guards. A Mercer Island product and former all-league player at Montana.
Case for: Outstanding reputation, two impressive mentors, knows the Pac-12, knows the West Coast.
Case against: No head-coaching experience above the JC level.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Not bad. He's a guy with esteemed coaching mentors and unmatched expertise in today's Pac-12.



Wayne Tinkle, age 48. He is in his eighth season as head coach at his alma mater, Montana. The Griz have advanced to NCAA Tourney three of the last four seasons, and have posted two straight 25-win seasons. Was a Griz assistant for five campaigns before taking over the top job. Grew up in Spokane (Ferris High '84).
Case for: One of the winningest coaches in school history and no stranger to post-season play. As a player, he spent 12 years in the pros, mostly overseas, and Montana currently lists two international players on the roster, from Australia and Germany.
Case against: Didn't have to build the UM program, as the Griz had been to the Big Dance three times in the five years before he took over. Has never coached, as an assistant or head, at the major-college level.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Ho-hum. Great record, no doubt, but tough to get around that entirely Big Sky background.



Leon Rice, age 51. He's in his fourth season as head coach at Boise State after 11 seasons as an assistant at Gonzaga. Began collegiate coaching career as a graduate assistant at Oregon and then served two seasons as a full-time assistant for the Ducks. Graduated from WSU in 1986.
Case for: Last season, his third at the helm, he guided BSU to its first-ever NCAA Tourney berth. posted third 20-plus-win season under Rice this past year.
Case against: Despite the success, BSU has a poor record against top 100 teams since he's been there. Doesn't face the type of academic restrictions recruiting to BSU as he would at OSU. Just signed a contract extension at BSU.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Not bad. He has Pac-12 ties that could make for a smooth transition.



Randy Rahe, age 53. Rahe is in his eighth season at Weber State. He's won 25 games each of the last two seasons and has overall winning percentage of .667. Been to NCAA Tourney once, in 2006-07. Also has been an assistant at Utah and Colorado. A native of Iowa.
Case for: Veteran head coach with track record of success (five 20-plus-win seasons) at a program not awash in resources.
Case against: Limited major-conference experience as an assistant, which translates to limited experience recruiting the type of athletes required to compete in the Pac-12.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Fine. He's a proven basketball man but, like Tinkle, the Big Sky doesn't excite.



Tommy Lloyd, age 38. In his 13th year as an assistant coach at Gonzaga. Has helped Mark Few turn the Zags into a perennial top 25 and NCAA Tourney team. A Kelso, Wash., native and graduate of Whitman College.
Case for: Outstanding recruiter, particularly overseas, no stranger to national success, knows what it takes to succeed in Eastern Washington.
Case against: No head-coaching experience, and no experience in a major-conference program.
EXPECTED FAN REACTION IF HIRED BY OSU:
Wait and see. Is he the next Few or the next Grier? Recruiting skills overseas hold real possibilities for a Pac-12 school like Oregon State.



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