Search Firm: Predicting Michigan’s Next Head Basketball Coach

The timing isn’t ideal, but Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel now finds himself in a position to have to find a replacement for John Beilein after the 66-year-old left for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The good news is that Manuel should have a ready-made list in place after Beilein flirted with NBA openings a year ago. Now we’ll see how quickly Manuel moves — and whether he can land someone at or near the top of his list.

[RELATED: John Beilein and the Cleveland Cavaliers Is an Ideal Marriage]

 

JOB DESCRIPTION

This is a different job than when Beilein inherited it. Michigan has always been a brand, but had gone through a nine-year stretch from 1998-2007 without an NCAA Tournament appearance. Beilein brought the brand back, and now there’s an impressive practice facility and increased resources. It’s not an elite college basketball job, but there’s probably only a little more than a dozen or so programs that rank higher.

 

THE DECISION-MAKER

Warde Manuel – Was the AD at Buffalo from 2005 to 2012. Then took over at UConn in 2012 before leaving for Michigan – his alma mater – in 2016.

Men’s Basketball Hires: Kevin Ollie – After Jim Calhoun retired, Ollie was promoted and signed a one-year deal. Manuel then gave Ollie a five-year deal in 2012.

 

WORTH A CALL

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics – After the turmoil this past season in Boston, it’s worth checking in. I don’t think there’s any shot he leaves the NBA now, but Michigan is one of the college jobs that fits him.

Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder – Donovan is still the coach at OKC, but his future is in doubt — now, and certainly a year from now, if the Thunder don’t make some noise in the postseason.

 

TOP THREE

Mike Brey, Notre Dame – He’s struggled the last two years in South Bend, but before that he went to the NCAA tourney in seven out of eight seasons, including a pair of Elite Eight appearances in 2015 and 2016. Would he leave? Doubtful, but you might as well call to find out.

Chris Collins, Northwestern – Remember when he was the hottest name in the country a couple of years ago? Sure, the Wildcats have struggled the last two seasons, but Collins still checks most of the boxes. Imagine what he could do at one of the conference’s top programs?

Mike White, Florida – He’s reached the NCAA Tournament in three of his four seasons in Gainesville, and maybe he’d like to get out of the SEC.

 

NEXT TIER

LaVall Jordan, Butler – Was an assistant under Beilein at Michigan from 2010-16, but probably hasn’t done quite enough as a head coach, yet, to warrant being in the top tier. Got the Butler gig following an 11-24 campaign at Milwaukee, and is 37-31 in two seasons with the Bulldogs.

Bobby Hurley, Arizona State – Can you imagine the Hurley-Harbaugh duo in Ann Arbor?  Hurley might not fit the Michigan hoops profile, but he’s made Arizona State basketball relevant, taking the Sun Devils to two consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

Ed Cooley, Providence – I’m giving Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News credit for this one since I wouldn’t have included Cooley until seeing DeCourcy list him. He’s a Providence native and has done wonders with the program, taking the Friars to five straight NCAA tourneys before missing out on the Big Dance last season.

Porter Moser, Loyola Chicago – Reached the Final Four a year ago and obviously has no shortage of ties to the Midwest. Might have a little more pop if he had made a return trip to the NCAA tourney this season.

Juwan Howard, Miami Heat – The Michigan alum has been an assistant with the Miami Heat since 2013, and was up for a few NBA head coaching gigs the last couple of years. I’m just not a huge fan of the NBA guy with a fat checkbook heading to the college game — most of the time it doesn’t work.

 

IN-HOUSE

Saddi Washington – He’s been with Beilein the last few years after a decade with Greg Kampe at Oakland. Washington has strong ties within the state as a Lansing native who played at Western Michigan.

Luke Yaklich – Came over two years ago and has instantly helped turn Michigan into an elite defensive team. Was previously an assistant at Illinois State.

 

WILD CARD CANDIDATE

Thad Matta – I’m just not seeing Manuel hiring a guy who was fired at Ohio State a couple of years ago — and he may not be fully invested in returning to coaching.

 

MY PICK

Chris Collins – I think Manuel could get him, and he makes sense. The 45-year-old did take Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament in 2017. He has strong midwestern ties and has shown the ability to recruit at a high level — both at Duke and Northwestern.

 

WHO I THINK THEY WILL WIND UP HIRING

Billy Donovan – I’m gonna roll the dice here. If Donovan loses his job, this is an ideal one for him to take in college. It’s also a brand where he doesn’t have to deal with recruiting in the SEC again.

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