Steve Prohm, Murray State: His 2014-15 Racers went 29-6 but lost to Belmont in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament finals and missed out on an NCAA bid. Murray wound up reaching the NIT Final Four. Prohm, 40, has an imposing 104-29 record in four seasons leading the Racers, with an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011-12. He recently signed a contract extension through 2020 at a base salary of $490,000 per year but remains within Tennessee’s price range. For what it’s worth: He’s an Alabama grad — as is Dave Hart.
Brad Underwood, Stephen F. Austin: This former South Carolina assistant has a short head-coaching resume but he’s 2-for-2 earning NCAA Tournament bids and Southland Conference Coach of the Year honors. He’s 51 years old and carries an eye-popping 61-7 head-coaching record.
Will Wade, Chattanooga: He emerged as a candidate during Tennessee’s 2014 coaching search, and with good reason. He’s a Tennessee native (Nashville) with youth (32), a solid record (40-25 after two years with the Moccasins) and a Southern Conference Coach of the Year award (2014). His energy could help revitalize a Vol fan base that is reeling in the wake of Donnie Tyndall’s firing.
Michael White, Louisiana Tech. He appeared all set to become Tennessee’s head coach last April but never closed the deal, prompting Hart to immediately opt for Donnie Tyndall. White is young (38) and knows the SEC, having played and assisted at Ole Miss. He is 0 for 4 on NCAA Tournament bids but has an impressive 101-40 record in four seasons with the Bulldogs. His father, Kevin, is athletics director at Duke.
Bobby Hurley, Buffalo: He’s the Mid-American Conference’s highest-paid coach at a reported $550,000 per season but that’s well below what Tennessee could afford to pay. His resume is short but he has a two-year record of 42-20 and recently led the Bulls to the first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.
Richard Pitino, Minnesota: Rick’s 32-year-old son reportedly was a candidate for the Vol vacancy a year ago. He may be an easier hire now that his stock has slipped a bit. After winning last year’s NIT title, his Gophers finished 6-12 in the Big Ten this season en route to an 18-15 overall record. Counting a season at Florida International, he has a 61-42 career record. He also has a $1.5 million buyout.
Archie Miller, Dayton: Perhaps the hottest young coach around, he was No. 3 on my list 12 months ago. He may be out of Tennessee’s price range now, however, after leading the Flyers to NCAA Tournament runs each of the past two seasons. Only 36, he has a 90-47 record in four seasons at Dayton and recently signed a new contract that runs through 2022.
Bryce Drew, Valparaiso: Luring a guy away from his alma mater can be difficult, especially when he’s enjoying high-level success. That’s certainly the case for the 40-year-old Drew, who is 94-42 and coming off a 2014-15 season that saw the Crusaders go 28-6 and reach their second NCAA Tournament in four years. That earned him recognition as the Horizon League Coach of the Year for 2015.
Chris Mack, Xavier: He was on my list for Tennessee’s 2014 coaching vacancy and remains an attractive option 12 months later. He won’t be an easy pull, since he’s coaching his alma mater and recently led the Musketeers to their fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the past six years. A two-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year honoree, he has a head coaching record of 134-71 and an NCAA Tournament record of 6-4.
Rick Byrd, Belmont: He boasts a 711-367 career record and a well-deserved reputation as one of the finest bench coaches in America. A living legend at Belmont, he seems quite content being a big fish in a little pond. Moreover, he turns 62 in April and has never had to recruit elite athletes. Still, he’s a Knoxville native and UT grad whose parents live five minutes from the campus. Byrd has spent his career coaching mid-major talent, which is basically what he would be inheriting at Tennessee.