WSU coaching situation: Anyone good enough?

WE'VE COME TO the realization that no one is good enough to lead the Washington State basketball program should Ken Bone be relieved of his duties as head coach. Through informal chatter with Coug fans and non-partisan friends who know the game well, we've collected some of the downsides to many of the names that fans have floated most in the orbit of possibilities of being WSU's next coach.


In no particular order ...

Dan Monson, Long Beach State head coach
He was a hot name after doing a great job building on the foundation Dan Fitzgerald poured at Gonzaga – 15 years ago! Since then, he proved to be Mr. NIT in seven seasons at Minnesota – where the basketball tradition and resources are greater than at WSU – and his conference winning percentage was 39 percent. While he's done solid work in seven seasons at Long Beach State in the Big West, there's also this: the academic requirements there pale to what he'd have to recruit around at WSU.

Leon Rice, Boise State head coach
He's done a solid job at BSU but those teams are built largely on foreigners and kids from such basketball hotbeds as Idaho, South Dakota and Wyoming. If you thought Bone didn't burn up the recruiting trail, good luck here given where Rice has made his inroads. It's fine for Boise State and the league they play in, but a far cry from contending in the Pac-12. As for his many years as an assistant at Gonzaga, that's all fine and well but there's no getting around this: after the top three teams, most of the West Coast Conference would struggle with the Rainier Beach Vikings.

Wayne Tinkle, Montana head coach
He has never coached, either as a head or assistant, outside Missoula. Granted, the Griz have been winners on his watch, but that also raises a question, because they were winners before he was head coach (i.e. he's never had to build a program). And the fact all his experience is isolated to the Big Sky Conference hardly suggests he's going to be a recruiting dynamo in the urban centers where so much of the best talent in the nation is located.

Bruce Pearl, former Tennessee head coach
The sanctions placed on him by the NCAA run into late August and would require a school to win a "show cause" case in order to bring him on board without the penalties following him. That's a hassle. But worse, he's been convicted in the court of the NCAA and that's image baggage Bill Moos and Elson Floyd just aren't likely to want colored in crimson.

Ben Howland, former UCLA head coach
He had three spectacular seasons at UCLA on the front half of his 10 years there, but he's a bit of a prickly personality and the program was completely fractured when he departed. Moreover, in his last four seasons he failed to make the NCAA Tournament twice and went down in the first round once. This is at UCLA, mind you. UCLA! A blind chipmunk should be able to recruit enough talent to Westwood to at least get to the second round on a consistent basis.

Ernie Kent, former Oregon head coach
Some people don't like him because of his work as a TV analyst. Some don't like him simply because he was at Oregon. Some think he's been off the sidelines too long (three seasons). Some point to his last two seasons in Eugene, when he won but nine conference games. Say what you will, but I actually have a hard time letting any of that block my view, because without the benefit of decent facilities (yep, they came after he was gone) he took the Ducks to five Big Dances and two Elite Eights.

Stew Morrill, Utah State head coach
He's 61-years-old and looks it. Not trying to be harsh, but for a program in serious need of energy, that hardly spells "fire starter." He was interested in the job five years ago and actually may have been well suited to continue the Bennett momentum. But that was then and this is now. Moreover, while he's done an amazing job at Utah State, he's done it largely with kids from Utah and surrounding areas. If Washington State wants to compete in the upper half of the Pac-12 on a consistent basis, it must do a better job of recruiting in the meccas of youth basketball.

Tommy Lloyd, Gonzaga assistant
The most amusing commentary surrounding Lloyd is that he wouldn't take the WSU job because he's Mark Few's stated heir apparent at Gonzaga. First, it doesn't appear Few is going anywhere anytime soon. Second, would a lifelong assistant in a second-tier conference, making maybe $90,000 a year, really turn down in the neighborhood of $1 million a season to become a head coach in one of the elite conference's in the nation? Cue the guffaws. That aside, this gives pause: he's never been a head coach, but worse, he doesn't have one day of experience in a major conference.

Randy Rahe, Weber State head coach
In his eighth season at Weber State he has the Wildcats poised for their sixth post-season berth, including one NCAA Tournament bid. His teams have never finished lower than third in the Big Sky, but therein lies the rub: the Big Sky. Except for one season as an assistant at Colorado and two as an assistant at Utah in the Mountain West days, his major-conference chops -- and thereby his recruiting acumen in the places that allow you to compete with the Cals, Arizona States, Washingtons and Oregons of the world -- are light.

Randy Bennett, St. Mary's head coach
What's not to like about a perennial 20-game winner who has been to five Big Dances, including one Sweet 16? Two things. First, like Pearl, he's been in the NCAA crosshairs and came out on the losing end. In 2013, St. Mary's was leveled with four years of probation for "a failure to monitor and a failure to promote an atmosphere for compliance." Second, his success at St. Mary's has been built in a huge way on recruiting in Australia. That's great, but it doesn't add up to a recipe for sustained upper-division success in the Pac-12; yes in the WCC, but not likely in the Pac-12.

OKAY, NOW THAT WE'VE got those 10 names out of the way, who's next?

Just joking.

In the Internet and social-media age, the ability to nit-pick someone's resume -- both quickly and loudly -- has never been greater. The fact is that any one of those guys listed above -- not to mention another 20 -- could be the ideal fit for WSU.

Outside of VCU's Shaka Smart or Wichita State's Gregg Marshall (neither of whom is likely to be tripping to the Palouse anytime soon), I'm not sure there's a name on the planet that can unanimously unite and excite Cougar fans like Mike Leach did in football.

And there's nothing wrong with that. The most important piece of this puzzle is that Bill Moos and Elson Floyd find a guy who appreciates WSU's unique location and knows how to recruit to it. This hire is critical because if they miss we're going to wind up five years from now talking about a lost decade on the hardwood.

We've already done that in football, and a couple of times before in basketball.

In the Internet and social-media age, that just won't stand.

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