Uggggh! This coaching search is KILLING me! The first nation-wide coaching search for the University in a long while is underway and should be wrapping up here within the next week, according to Pat Kilkenny who is leading the search. Soooo many names have been tossed around, so let's break 'em down:
1) Mark Few, Gonzaga- When in the past 3-5 years has his name NOT been mentioned as the next Oregon head basketball coach? The long time Zags coach is an alum and native of Creswell. Why wouldn't he want to coach here? Pac-10 school, incredible facilities, Nike?? Or is his comfy little thing he has up in Spokane working just fine for him? 10 straight WCC regular season championships and 8 out of the last 10 WCC tourney champs. It sounds like he is doing alright. If Few doesn't take the Oregon job now...he will never leave Spokane.
2) Jamie Dixon, Pitt- This guy is good, he's young and he has west coast ties. A former assistant of Ben Howland and predecessor of him at Pitt, Dixon is one of the best young coaches in the game today. He has kept Pitt competitive in the super conference Big East. Dixon is a Nike guy and would be an awesome fit at Oregon. Rumors of Pat Kilkenny in NYC have him interviewing Dixon. This is my number one choice.
3) Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M- This could have been a good get as well for the Ducks. Rumors are that Turgeon has agreed to a contract extension to remain in Aggie land. Turgeon has ties to the Oregon program, he was an assistant under Jerry Green, the man who Kent took over for. Turgeon's name seems to be fading in this search.
4) Tubby Smith, Minnesota- A surprise name, but would not be a bad hire at all. Obviously a Nike guy, he has had undeniable success as a head coach in college basketball. Only once has he failed to achieve 20 wins in a season, which was his first season as a head coach. It is rumored that Oregon has already offered him a $2 million contract, more than what he makes for the Golden Gophers. Also key, Smith was guaranteed a new practice facility upon agreeing to take the Minnesota job 4 years ago. Yet there has been no significant movements to make sure that occurs by the university. With Oregon just months away from opening a fantastic $200 million arena outfitted with TWO practice facilities. Many factors here to watch, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if Smith accepts the offer.
5) Tom Izzo, Michigan State- Talk about surprise name! There is no way that Tom Izzo leaves East Lansing. 6 final fours in the last 12 years?! That is crazy good. Izzo is a staple at Michigan State and in the Big 10. Even if Oregon's offer of the largest contract in college basketball were true, I don't see him leaving. He has too much going on there to just drop it all. No chance here.
6) Brad Stevens, Butler- You want a young coach? How about 33 years old and just earned a trip to the Final Four. Butler is THE hottest team in the nation, they are on a 24 game win streak. Stevens has potential but not out here in the west. No ties with recruiting out here and he just seems like a better fit for a team like Iowa, who is looking to make a splash in the Big 10 again since they lost Alford (another Duck candidate). Don't expect Stevens to come to Oregon, or anywhere else for that matter as he, much like Few, has something really nice going at Butler.
7) Randy Bennett, Saint Mary's- He has had recent success in Moraga, giving the biggest challenge to the dominant Gonzaga Bulldogs by winning the WCC tourney this year and making a good run to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA's. He doesn't have the name that the other candidates do, but his track record speaks for itself and many would commend Oregon on hiring him. Positives to bringing him in? He will be cheaper than a Few or Dixon or Izzo. He can recruit from unusual places really well (Australia-- but do we want another Ian Crosswhite?). What is going against Bennett? How about the fact that he is coaching at Saint Mary's, which was where Ernie Kent was plucked from when came to Oregon. Does the university want to go back to the well? If Tubby Smith or Jamie Dixon don't pan out, look for Bennett to be the fall back guy.
7) Dave Rose, BYU- He isn't high on a lot of fans wish lists. Rose relatively came from nowhere this year and lead BYU to a top-10 ranking and a very exciting NCAA appearance that ended in the second round. Still, Rose runs a very up-tempo style offense that would be conducive to the current Oregon roster, and like Bennett, he would come cheaper. He is option number three for the Ducks.
7 names to think about, probably only three realistic names out of the bunch: Smith, Bennett and Rose. I still retain hope that Jamie Dixon comes out here, but again would be pleased with Tubby Smith. Oregon definitely wants to make a splash with this hire and Smith would do just that. The program has already taken a lot of flack for even being rumored at offering jobs to the likes of Izzo, Billy Donovan and Dixon. Would it be a failure if Oregon winds up with Bennett or Rose or have the Ducks already won by getting rid of Kent?