Waiting game not over for SMU

Despite hiring Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown, the Mustangs are still waiting to come to an agreement with Tim Jankovich, Jerrance Howard and Rod Strickland as staff members. There are some hiccups delaying the process. And even if everything works out according to plan, how will this staff mesh now and in the future once Brown is gone?

SMU has officially hired Larry Brown and many Mustang fans rejoice.

But part of the reason this hire became extra intriguing over the past week is due to the assistants Brown is reportedly bringing along for the ride.

Illinois State's Tim Jankovich is reportedly being offered a "head coach-in-waiting" title for upward of $800,000 and former Illinois assistant Jerrance Howard and Kentucky assistant Rod Strickland are supposed to be on board as well.

Brown, plus those three guys, make up quite a crew if you ask anyone.

But with SMU's official release yesterday, there was nothing regarding a CIW or assistants.

So even though the Mustangs have found a replacement for Matt Doherty after almost six weeks of searching, we still wait.

We wait to see who will take over for Brown if he decides to wander off, and he very well could. We wait to see if SMU can snag two ace recruiters in Howard and Strickland. We wait to see if any of the current Mustangs staff, like Jerry Hobbie, who played a key recruiting role the past couple years under Doherty, will be retained.

Brown and SMU will hold a celebratory press conference next week (time and date to be announced) and it would be wise to think a staff announcement would follow suit.

But it would also be wise to have some reservations about the potential hires. First of all, Jankovich, who is a former Bill Self assistant at Kansas, has done quite a job at Illinois State with an overall record of 104-64. But that is the Missouri Valley Conference. And while he was the coach of North Texas from 1993-97, the Mean Green had a sub-500 record of 53-57.

There's been talk from both sides as to why the assistants haven't been formally announced yet. Some reports say that Jankovich is the hold up because of the money and others that SMU athletic director Steve Orsini is the hold up because he's wary of Jankovich's ability to take over the team once Brown leaves.

Let's say Brown builds up the program his way and guides it into the Big East, then decides he's tired and wants to finally put away his clipboard. Then the program becomes Jankovich's.

This could turn out to be a similar situation like North Carolina. After Dean Smith left, the program faltered under Bill Guthridge (who was able to win, but with Smith's recruits) and Doherty before the Tar Heels hired Roy Williams.

Tim Jankovich is not Larry Brown and SMU is not North Carolina, but it's just something to think about as to why Orsini is again taking his time.

Then there's the issue regarding Strickland, who was coached by Brown while he was with the San Antonio Spurs in the early ‘90s. Strickland is currently a part of John Calipari's staff at Kentucky. He used to be an assistant before being placed in a different role following a DUI arrest in 2010.

He played in the NBA for seven years, scored over 14,000 points and ranks ninth in career assists.

But why is Calipari willing to give up someone on his staff? And he was helping Brown amass assistants.

Howard has publicly been ready to join Brown at SMU since ESPN reported everything was final on Tuesday. Most recently, Howard served as interim coach at Illinois after the school fired Bruce Weber in early March. Howard was not retained on new head coach John Groce's staff. Howard, who played for the Fighting Illini from 2000-04, was college teammates with New Jersey Nets guard Deron Williams, who the Mavericks will try and lure away this summer.

Howard also has Texas ties, as he served as an administrative assistant under Billy Gillispie at Texas A&M from 2005-07.

Salaries for Howard and Strickland haven't been disclosed, but both are expected to receive raises from their previous jobs.

If everything pans out according to plan—with Jankovich as CIW and Howard and Strickland on board—what happens when Brown leaves? Will Howard and Strickland stay and continue to pound the recruiting pavement? Will the staff be able to sustain what Brown may be able to build in however many years he's on the Hilltop?

Though Brown has been hired, SMU continues to wait.


For more SMU coverage, follow Laken Litman on Twitter!

Pony Stampede Top Stories