COLUMBIA — Coaching searches often lead to lots of spaghetti being thrown against the wall — names and names of potential candidates, and maybe one of them will stick.
So, March is now officially Pasta Month in Columbia as South Carolina searches for a new men’s basketball coach to replace Darrin Horn, who was fired Tuesday after four seasons.
USC athletic director Eric Hyman said he plans to play the search close to the vest while consulting basketball coaches he knows, rather than using a search firm.
“I’d rather deal with basketball people
(instead of a firm),” Hyman said. “Basketball coaches have got a pretty good sense and feel for people. They’ve got a better feel for the marketplace than maybe a search firm would.”
With the ink on Horn’s severance barely dry, Hyman is in the early stages of his official search. Moreover, some of the candidates he might — emphasis on “might” — pursue are still participating in postseason tournaments.
On that note, here are five coaches we think would make good candidates, names to at least keep an eye on. This is not to say Hyman will pursue any of them, though a call to the first man (Gregg Marshall) on the list seems likely. USC’s next coach very well might not be on this list. But it’s a good starting point for Hyman:
Current job: Wichita State head coach
Record at school:
109-60, 54-36 Missouri Valley Conference, fifth season
Career highlights: NCAA tournament in 2012,
NIT title in 2011, seven NCAA appearances at Winthrop,
winning one in 2007.
Could it happen?: Has regional connection Hyman is looking for. He’s from Greenwood. Went 104-24 in the Big South while at Winthrop. Wichita State program in better shape right now than USC’s, but might be a home-state draw for Marshall, who was an assistant at the College of Charleston from 1988-96. Marshall has yet to work in a major conference.
Current job: Harvard head coach
Record at school: 92-55, 43-27 Ivy League, fifth season
Career highlights: NCAA Sweet 16 in 2000 at Seton Hall, NIT title in 2004 at Michigan, Ivy League title in 2012, 24-2 in Ivy past two years after team was 3-11 in first year.
Salary: N/A (private school)
Could it happen?: Amaker is in NCAA tournament, having steadily built success at Harvard
since he arrived in 2007. Coached previous six seasons at Michigan and four at Seton Hall. Was an assistant at Duke from 1988-97, so has recruited this part of the country. Amaker has a good thing going at
Harvard, but at what point might he want to jump into more prominent league?
Current job: Virginia
Commonwealth head coach
Record at school: 83-27, 38-16 Colonial Athletic
Association, third season
Career highlights: 2011 Final Four, 2012 CAA
Salary: $1.2 million
Could it happen?: Has just three years of head coaching experience, but already rising
star. VCU had better CAA
record this year (15-3) than last year (12-6) when went to Final Four. Smart has worked in South Carolina, as assistant at Clemson for two years, and in the SEC, as an assistant at
Florida for one year, before
he took VCU job. Issue is,
everybody wants him, probably including Illinois, which is a much better job than USC.
Current job: Duke
Record at school: None
Career highlights: Won CAA regular season and tournament titles in 2004 at VCU, NCAA second round in ‘08 and Elite Eight in ‘09 at Oklahoma.
Salary: N/A (private school)
Could it happen?: Had rocky final two years at
Oklahoma, with losing overall records both years after 2009 Elite Eight appearance with Blake Griffin. Went 9-23 in Big 12 in final two seasons combined. Became assistant at alma mater, Duke. Other members of Mike Krzyzewski’s staff, Chris Collins and Steve Wojciechowski, might be possible USC candidates. But unlike Capel, have never been head coaches.
Current job: New Mexico head coach
Record at school: 125-45, 55-23 Mountain West
Conference, fifth season
Career highlights: NCAA Sweet 16 in 1999 at Southwest Missouri State, NCAA second round in ‘01 at Iowa, NCAA second round in ‘10 at New Mexico, won ‘12 Mountain West regular season and
Salary: $1.1 million
Could it happen?: Bit of
an off-the-radar name. Has no direct ties on his resume to East Coast recruiting. Did make NCAAs 3 times in 8 years
at Iowa, including twice in final 3 years, before taking New Mexico job. So has reasonable amount of success as a major conference head coach.