An Early Look at Frank Martin’s Replacement Possibilities at K-StatePosted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2012
We’re all mystified right now as to why Frank Martin just left a passionate hoops school behind in favor of one of the worst power conference jobs in college basketball, but it’s a done deal and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Martin may have had a strained relationship with his athletic director at Kansas State, but why choose South Carolina? It’s a question we really can’t answer until Martin himself speaks publicly about the matter. Until then, let’s turn our focus back to Manhattan. Coaching searches are never easy to predict, but we’ll go ahead and give you an early look at some logical candidates for Kansas State. Be warned, please: we have no insider information and have no clue what direction KSU will go with this search. We’re simply putting together a list of coaches that might make sense for the position. And one last note: Gregg Marshall, the most logical geographical candidate as the head coach at Wichita State, is not included in the list because it appears he has no interest in leaving the Shockers. The list of potential candidates, in no particular order:
- Tim Jankovich, Illinois State: Normally, a coach with Jankovich’s resume would not get any consideration at a Big 12 school. In five years at Illinois State, he has never reached the NCAA Tournament. He’s an intriguing name at Kansas State for a few reasons, though. For starters, he spent three years as a productive starting point guard at Kansas State from 1979 to 1982, and he later served as an assistant during the mid-80s. After that, he worked at Illinois and Kansas for Bill Self, one of the better tutors in college basketball right now. And despite the lack of an NCAA bid at Illinois State, he has made the NIT four times and has consistently finished near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference. His Redbirds have reached the MVC title game three times, twice losing in overtime. Simply put, he’s been very, very close to that elusive NCAA bid, and his program’s relative success speaks for itself.
- John Groce, Ohio: As this year’s hot mid-major coach, Groce could bolt for several schools with coaching vacancies. There is reportedly mutual interest between Groce and Illinois, but you have to think Kansas State will at least pursue Groce before he makes his decision. Groce has won three NCAA Tournament games in four seasons at Ohio, and he has high-major experience as a former assistant to Herb Sendek and Thad Matta. By all means, Groce did a terrific job with this Ohio team throughout the course of the 2011-12 season — not just March — but he has also never won a regular-season conference championship.
- Larry Eustachy, Southern Mississippi: It took several years, but Eustachy finally reached the NCAA Tournament at Southern Miss this season, which means he’s all over everybody’s coaching radars. That’s because Eustachy used to be a star as the lead man at Iowa State, where he won more than 100 games in five seasons before a bout with alcoholism and some racy photos on the Internet led to his firing. It’s unknown whether Eustachy wants to pursue a new job, but he has experience in the Big 12 and may fit at KSU.
- Chris Collins, Duke: He makes more sense at Illinois, but we’re not hearing a lot of buzz in the media about that particular move. Still, Collins is the new Duke assistant on the market ready to take a head coaching job. Coach K’s disciples haven’t always worked out so well — see Quin Snyder and Tommy Amaker (at Michigan, at least) — but Collins’ name will be dragged through the carousel all spring.
- Danny Manning, Kansas: His name has been thrown around a bit in the early coaching carousel, and perhaps it’s time for Manning to pursue a head coaching position. Still, this seems like mostly a long shot. After all, this is a Jayhawk legend we’re talking about, and it may be a bit odd for him to drop that allegiance and head to Manhattan. However, in a world where Rick Pitino (formerly of Kentucky) coaches at Louisville and Mike Montgomery (formerly of Stanford) coaches at California, stranger things have happened.
- The Wild Card: Bruce Pearl: We were looking for a coach with some sort of tie to athletic director John Currie, so we hit Wikipedia to see who Currie used to interact with in previous jobs. It turns out that he worked at Tennessee during Pearl’s tenure. Now, understand that the NCAA issued a show-cause penalty to Pearl after his firing at UT, which essentially means he likely won’t get a job until that period ends in 2014. But the unlikely-but-still-conceivable idea that Bruce Pearl could take over for Frank Martin? It’s at least something to think/laugh about.