The On Deck Circle

The unofficial home of Real Talk

Coaching Carousel - Indiana University Edition

Posted by Blake Murphy on February 22, 2008

This article has been submitted by Stu “Big Country” Wilkinson.

So apparently Kelvin Sampson, Indiana basketball’s new head coach, is about to get canned for major recruiting violations. I’m no journalist, nor am I an NCAA regulator, so I’m not going to go “fact-finding” or “researching” in order to better understand the nuts and bolts of the situation. All I know is that Kelvin was a cheat at Oklahoma, and now everyone at Indiana is shocked and appalled that he’s been accused of cheating at their school, even after he miraculously got star freshman Eric Gordon to nullify his commitment to Illinois and come play for the Hoosiers. Who could have seen this coming?!

Sarcasm aside, I’m now excited by the potential for a good old-fashioned coaching carousel to start up thanks to Kelvin’s alleged indiscretions (my interpretation of the situation is that he played Charles Barkley to Eric Gordon’s Dwyane Wade). Indiana, despite its recent struggles, is a top-notch coaching job in college basketball, and it will attract interest from elite candidates. UCLA’s success under Ben Howland and Georgetown’s recent revival under John Thompson III have proven that a legendary program like Indiana can reverse its recent run of poor form by making a smart coaching hire, so the pressure is on Indiana to finally find the right man for the job (I didn’t mind Mike Davis, but that’s another story).

I love sticking my nose in other people’s business, especially when I really have no background information about the business I’m sticking my nose in, so let’s get right to it. I’m going to go ahead and speculate wildly about the candidates to be the next Indiana head coach. Feel free to join the fun in the comments.

The Legitimate Chance Division
Mark Few, Gonzaga
Mark Few’s name rarely comes up during coaching rumors – he’s like a bizarro Nick Saban. Few doesn’t appear in coaching rumors because he’s happy at Gonzaga, but that could change if Indiana came knocking. Few isn’t interested in going to a middle-of-the-road BCS school, but Indiana’s a different story. The Hoosiers should definitely ask Few if he’s interested – he’d be high on my shortlist if I was their Athletic Director.

Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois
Lowery is another mid-major coach who is entrenched in his position. Even though Southern Illinois is struggling this year (no Jamal Tatum), Lowery’s job is very secure thanks to a seven-year extension he signed in the off-season. He might not have the track record that Mark Few has, but he’s also only 35 and sort of looks like Bunk Moreland. It might be too early in his career for a basketball Mecca like Indiana to hire him, but you’ll definitely hear from him at a major school at some point.

John Calipari, Memphis
If Coach Cal goes unbeaten this year with Memphis (and he won’t) he might be looking for a new challenge, especially with guys like Derrick Rose, CDR, and Joey Dorsey probably heading to the professional ranks. Calipari might also be getting tired of the bush league Conference USA, especially after having to deal with UAB’s classy fans in a last-second win last weekend. Cal is another guy that the school should call, even though he quite possibly wouldn’t be interested.

Sean Miller, Xavier
You can throw him into the Chris Lowery “too young and too entrenched” category – this is going to be his fourth season at Xavier, and he’s under contract until 2016. That said, this guy is delivering results for Xavier and he could take the team on a run in the NCAA Tournament, the same type of run that got his predecessor, Thad Matta, a job at Ohio State. He’s also from Pittsburgh, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Bruce Pearl, Tennessee
Bruce seems happy at Tennessee, but he’s also one of these career-minded motherfuckers, and he’s also got a major beef with one of Indiana’s Big Ten rivals, Illinois. I love Pearl’s energy on the bench and the fast-paced tempo that his teams use, and I’m pretty sure he’s set to be an institution in college basketball for a while. Indiana should try to lure him to their school with big bucks and promises of embarrassing Illinois and the rest of the Big Ten every year.

Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh
I think this season may have helped Coach Dixon see the writing on the wall at Pitt. The city simply doesn’t care enough about basketball to make Pitt an annual Big East power. Getting high-profile players to commit to Pitt is pretty much impossible (see the case of Herb Pope), and the city will definitely be focused on the Pens, not the Panthers, for the next couple of decades. Dixon can stay at Pitt and maintain the school’s status as a not-quite-top-tier team in the Big East and hope to make a run in the Tournament every year, or he can go for glory at a high profile school like his mentor, Ben Howland. I hope he stays at Pitt.

Scott Skiles, Unemployed
Some Minnesota writer engaged in some serious rumor-mongering on Sunday when he declared that Scott Skiles would be the next head coach at Indiana. I think Skiles could be a decent college coach because student athletes might not be as hostile to his coaching style as millionaire prima donnas in the NBA, but the guy also has no experience in the college ranks. That may fly at USC, but not at Indiana. Don’t be surprised if he’s not the Indiana head coach next season.

The Stu Wilkinson’s Heroes Division
John Chaney, Unemployed
If you cross John Chaney, he will come at you hard (see <a href=””>here for proof</a>). He’s also a young 76. John Chaney is my role model.

Steve Lavin, ESPN
He’s doing great in television, but you know that he’s itching to get back on the sidelines. This is a guy that took Dan Gadzuric and Jason Kapono, two of my favourite college players ever, and took them to the Sweet Sixteen three times! He should get the job based on his hair alone.

Mike Jarvis, ESPN and Yahoo! Sports
Best known for simultaneously looking like Uncle Phil and ruining the St. John’s basketball program, Mike Jarvis would be the third face on my Mount Coachmore. Chaney, Lavin, Jarvis, and Jamie Dixon – I like that.

The Robert Montgomery Knight Division
Robert Montgomery Knight
You know you want him, Indiana. His resignation from Texas Tech was timed too perfectly. His unwillingness to call himself retired is too shady. Let’s do this.

So my gut is telling me that Bobby Knight has a shot at this job, but my gut is also very hungry. And by the way, Kelvin Sampson is a scumbag. Do us all a favor and put the cell phone down little man.

This article has been submitted by Stu “Big Country” Wilkinson.

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>