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USC Coaching Candidates

Frank Martin is a name being mentioned in Columbia

South Carolina Coaching Search

Tuesday Afternoon South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman announced at a 1:30 press conference that Darrin Horn would no longer be the head coach of the University of South Carolina. In 4 seasons at South Carolina Horn went 60-63 and failed to show any signs of progression in 2012.

South Carolina isn't an elite level job obviously, but it isn't a bad job either. South Carolina plays in one of the 4 nicest arenas in the SEC along with Kentucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee and has been in the upper half of SEC attendance since the Colonial Life Arena was built a decade ago. The fan support is there and there is no reason South Carolina can't be a good basketball program. If Andy Kennedy can average 20 wins a year in Oxford, MS, then why can't someone do it in Columbia? This is a South Carolina program that has a SEC Championship, two SEC East Division Championships, and two NIT Championships since 1997. There is potential with this program, but the right coach has to be hired.

South Carolina enters the job market at a great time. Currently the only major jobs open are Illinois and Nebraska. Certainly Illinois has proven to be a better job than South Carolina, but I would not put Nebraska ahead of South Carolina in potential. This means the 2nd best job open right now is USC's and it doesn't appear any elite jobs are opening in 2012.

Another thing to look out for is the issues within the Big East. With the loss of Syracuse, West Virginia, and Pitt this conference is no longer as strong as it once was. There are rumors that Notre Dame could leave for the Big XII at some point too. Could this lead to some coaches in this league to look elsewhere? I have included a couple Big East Coaches on this list, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a couple other names from that conference come up at some point.

Here is my list of candidates(in no order) I have heard or think could be interested in USC. As always I will continue to keep any sort of updates I hear on my twitter account https://twitter.com/#!/dixiefriedsport and Justin Cannon's https://twitter.com/#!/justin_cannon

1. Gregg Marshall(303-142) Wichita State Coach- The most obvious choice and the name mentioned the most is Gregg Marshall. Marshall is a Greenwood, SC Native and is part of the Frank McGuire Coaching Tree. Marshall spent 8 years as an assistant for John Kresse at College of Charleston and then was head coach at Winthrop(Rock Hill, SC) for 9 years. 7 of Marshall's 9 Winthrop teams went to the NCAA Tournament. At Wichita State he had a bit of a rebuilding project when he took over, even though current Maryland coach Mark Turgeon had brought life to that program. WSU won the NIT Championship a year ago and this year's team is a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The great thing about Marshall is that if he took the USC job, he would likely stay and not use it as a stepping stone. Former USC Coach Eddie Fogler was a coach at Wichita State as well.  A source connected closely to USC tells us Marshall won't be the man, but I refuse to rule him out yet.

2. Tommy Amaker(268-193) Harvard Coach- Amaker knows the Carolinas since he did play and was an assistant at Duke under Coach K. Amaker first coached at Seton Hall where he took the Pirates to a Sweet 16 in 2000. He then took the Michigan job where he just wasn't able to get the Wolverines over the NIT hump. His last 2 teams combined for 44 wins, but failed to make the tournament. He took over a terrible Harvard program and has the Crimson in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946.

3. Bobby Lutz(218-158) NC State Assistant- Lutz's name has been mentioned for the South Carolina job in the past. Lutz is a 1980 graduate of UNC-Charlotte and was a graduate assistant at Clemson. He was head coach at Charlotte from 1998-2010 and took the program to 5 NCAA Appearances and 3 NITs in a very good basketball conference. Lutz is currently on the NC State staff with former South Carolina Assistant Orlando Early. Early was a Lutz assistant from 98-2001. This name probably won't excite Gamecock fans much, but he is certainly a name to look out for.

4. Tubby Smith(486-209) Minnesota Coach- Smith was an assistant at South Carolina from 1986-1989 under George Felton. Prior to hiring Dave Odom, then USC Athletic Director Mike McGee tried to lure Smith away from Kentucky. Smith started his head coaching career at Tulsa where he went to 2 Sweet 16s. He then went to Georgia and had a 45-19 record in 2 seasons with the Dogs. Smith is most known for his time as Kentucky Head Coach, where he won the 1998 National Championship. Smith Kentucky teams went to 4 Elite 8s and never missed the NCAA Tournament, but he could never get the Cats to the level he did in 1998. At Minnesota he has gone 99-64 with 2 NCAA Appearances in 5 seasons. 4 years ago this name wouldn't have come up as USC was looking for young and energetic, but this could be a name USC goes after because.  A source has stated Tubby is high on USC's list.

5. Mike Young(156-151) Wofford Coach- Ignore Young's overall record. What needs to be looked at is what he has built at a school of less than 2,000 students, one of the smallest D1 schools in the country. In the last 3 seasons Wofford is 66-34 with 3 postseason appearances. Young is the first coach to ever take Wofford to the NCAA Tournament and is doing at Wofford what Gregg Marshall did at Winthrop. My only concern with Young is that he has never been a part of a big program as he has only coached at Wofford and Radford. Young was a graduate of Emory & Henry(the Steve Spurrier Formation), so he didn't play for a big name school either.

6. Buzz Williams(108-59) Marquette Coach- Williams is one of the fastest rising stars in the business and would be a grandslam hire for the Gamecocks. Williams is not only a great coach, but he has the charisma to unite fans, players, and everyone involved with a basketball program. Williams does have a buyout around $3 Million and this would be an expensive hire for the Gamecocks. Last year Williams did put his name in for jobs at Arkansas, Oklahoma, and NC State so it is possible he is looking to make a move in a warmer climate since he is a native of Texas.

7. Chris Mooney(146-115) Richmond Coach- Mooney's name was a little more hot a season ago after taking Richmond to their 2nd straight NCAA Appearance. He's a highly intelligent individual that played under the legendary Pete Carril at Princeton from 90-94. Mooney first coaching job was at Air Force where he went 18-12 in 1 season. He then took over a rebuilding job at Richmond and has gone 71-33 the last 3 seasons, but was 16-16 this year.

8. Frank Martin(114-51) Kansas State Coach- This isn't a name I had considered until the CBS Affiliate WLTX in Columbia, SC mentioned him as a candidate Tuesday Evening. Martin is a fantastic recruiter and in 5 years at KSU has never won less than 21 games. His 2010 team won 29 games and went to the elite 8 Martin is a fantastic recruiter and if South Carolina did land him this would be a great hire. Martin wanted the Miami job a year ago, something that really wasn't kept secret. He started his coaching career as a high school coach in the Miami area and was part of a recruiting scandal at Miami High School, but was never actually accused of any wrongdoing. Hopefully the high school incident wouldn't be held against Martin if he wanted the USC job because the man would be the type hire to excite fans.  Does Martin want out of a state where he will always play second to Kansas?

9. Paul Hewitt(278-193) George Mason Coach- As I noted in my article 2 weeks ago "No Progress For Horn" http://www.dixiefriedsports.com/No_Progress_for_Horn.html, South Carolina has not been shut out of the Atlanta, GA recruiting area. This is an area South Carolina has to recruit strongly in to be successful since Columbia is only 210 miles from Atlanta. Paul Hewitt knows the area better than most since he coached at Georgia Tech for 11 years. Hewitt took Georgia Tech to the National Championship game in 2004, but never could really build on that season as he had only 3 more NCAA Appearances and 4 losing seasons after 2004. Hewitt is 24-9 in year 1 at George Mason.

10. Kevin Stallings(383-221) Vanderbilt Coach- South Carolina hired Eddie Fogler away from Vanderbilt 20 years ago, so its possible this could be a direction the Gamecocks take again. WNKT 107.5's Heath Cline said on his show Tuesday that Stallings name has come up with some assistants at a major program as a possible replacement for Horn, so we'll consider this as a possible candidate. Stallings has had only 1 losing season in 13 years at Vanderbilt. He has taken the program to 6 NCAA Tournament Appearances and just won the SEC Tournament Championship. This would be another great hire from South Carolina if it can be made. Would Mike Slive look down on another SEC school stealing another SEC school's coach?

11. Stan Heath(180-164) South Florida Coach- Heath took over a terrible South Florida program 5 years ago in the tough Big East and now has the Bulls in the NCAA Tournament. This season Heath was named The Big East Coach of the Year with his 2nd 20 win season in 3 years. Heath is from the Tom Izzo Coaching Tree, but was put on the map by his elite 8 run with Kent State in 2002. He then took over an Arkansas program in a mess after Nolan Richardson left. Heath proved to be a very good recruiter at Arkansas, but could never win over the Hog fans with his style of play. Heath's last 2 Arkansas teams went to the NCAA Tournament, but he was fired soon after losing in the first round of the 07 Tournament. One thing that hurt Heath at Arkansas was Al Jefferson, who committed to Arkansas, went straight to the NBA without ever playing a game in Fayetteville.

12. Chris Mack(71-29) Xavier Coach- When a major program needs a head coach, it always seems smart to look at Xavier. Sean Miller, Thad Matta, and Skip Prosser are just a few of the many coaches to be hired a way by major conference teams. Mack has taken Xavier to 3 NCAA Appearances in 3 seasons. His first team made it to the Sweet 16. Mack does have experience in The Carolinas since he was an assistant at Wake Forest from 2001-2004.

13 Mick Cronin(173-105)Cincinnati- Cronin's name came up for the Arkansas job a year ago, so its possible he's looking at getting into the SEC. Cronin has now taken the Bearcats to 3 straight NCAA Appearances after struggling his first 4 seasons. Cronin came to Cincinnati from Murray State, the same school South Carolina hired Steve Newton from. Cronin has great coaching pedigree as he has been an assistant under Rick Pitino and Bob Huggins.

14. John Cooper(43-52) Tennessee State- Cooper was an assistant at South Carolina under Eddie Fogler from 1995-2001. His record isn't impressive in 3 seasons at TSU, but the program has improved each year under him. This year Cooper's team went 20-13 and beat South Carolina in Columbia 64-63. Cooper replaced former South Carolina State Head Coach Cy Alexander at Tennessee State. Cooper also was part of the Auburn staff under Jeff Lebo for 5 seasons.

15. Steve Wojciechowski and Chris Collins Duke Assistants- While Coach K assistants have not done that well in the past, these two names are ones to look out for. Both played at Duke and both are associate head coaches for Duke right now. Jeff Capel is also on the Duke Coaching staff, but having used South Carolina as a pay raise when he was a coach at Oklahoma, probably didn't sit to well with Eric Hyman. Would Eric Hyman, a UNC Graduate, want to hire a Duke Assistant?
Names that could come up, but I wouldn't take serious

1. Larry Brown(177-61 as a college coach) Not Coaching- Last year Brown let it be known he wouldn't mind coaching at the college level again. When George Felton was fired, Brown's name was actually connected to the South Carolina job for a few weeks while he was with the San Antonio Spurs. Brown of course is a legend in coaching and won the 1988 National Championship at Kansas. He went to the NBA and won the 2004 NBA Championship, over 1,000 games, and coached 9 different teams. Given Hyman's UNC Connections this name is worth mentioning, but I wouldn't take it seriously if it comes up.

2. Brad Stevens(137-39) Butler Coach- Stevens isn't coming to Columbia. With Butler likely headed to the Atlantic 10 Conference, Stevens is going to stay with the Bulldogs until either the Indiana or Duke jobs open up. It would take an elite program to lure Stevens away

3. Shaka Smart(83-27) VCU Coach- Smart was a Clemson Assistant, but his name is at the point right now that he would only leave VCU(a good basketball school) for a bigger name program on a solid foundation. Plus, it is well known that Billy Donovan advised former Florida Assistant Anthony Grant against the USC job 4 years ago. It's possible Donovan would advise the same thing for Smart. Smart seems to be a hot name with the Illinois job

4. Bobby Cremins(563-363) College of Charleston Coach- Cremins took the South Carolina job in 1993, but 3 days later returned to Georgia Tech. Cremins played at South Carolina under Frank McGuire and could be a candidate, but with his health issues this past season at College of Charleston I don't see Hyman making this hire.

5. Scott Drew(168-129)- Drew's name comes up every year and he never seems willing to leave Waco. Drew has done one of the best rebuilding jobs in College Basketball History and would be a fantastic hire, but I don't see him leaving Baylor unless its a traditional power.

6.Bruce Pearl- Pearl isn't going to be hired by a school under NCAA Investigation. This name is mentioned all the time, but it's not happening folks. Eric Hyman isn't taking a guy with a 3 year show cause.
Matt Barber
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