Coaching Carousel: Grading the Mid-Major College Basketball Coaching Changes

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

There has been a lot of movement in the mid-major coaching carousel so far this year. What have been the best moves around the country and what have been some of the worse? We breakdown every hire thus far.

Buffalo
New:
Bobby Hurley
Replaces: Reggie Witherspoon

The former Duke star hasn't been in coaching very long and he's taking over for Reggie Witherspoon, a guy who had been with Buffalo since Hurley was on the Vancouver Grizzlies. Hurley has been an assistant under his brother for three years at Wagner and Rhode Island. He certainly has the pedigree and connections in the northeast, but we'll have to wait and see if he can follow in his family's footsteps.
Grade: B-

Cal State Fullerton
New: Dedrique Taylor
Replaces: Bob Burton

The long-time Arizona State assistant takes over for the Titans after Bob Burton unexpectedly stepped down last summer. The 39 year old Taylor has a lot of experience in his relatively short career in Fullerton's recruiting footprint. In 2009 Basketball Scoop named Taylor a National Assistant Coach of the Year. Taylor is from California and went to UC Davis, so he should fit right in to the Big West.
Grade: B

Cal State Northridge
New: Reggie Theus
Replaces: Bobby Braswell

The Matadors certainly made a splash in hiring a former NBA All-Star and coach of the Sacramento Kings. Theus has had success at the college level at New Mexico State but he's also bounced around a lot at the pro level as a coach. Can the former "Hang Time" star find success again at the collegiate level?
Grade: B

Drake
New: Ray Giacoletti
Replaces: Mark Phelps

Mark Few's assistant steps in for Mark Phelps, but more importantly Giacoletti has head coaching experience at North Dakota State, Eastern Washington, and Utah. He has a 171-123 record has a head coach and should get the Bulldogs back in the thick of an ever-changing Missouri Valley Conference.
Grade: A

Georgia Southern
New: Mark Byington
Replaces: Charlton Young

Georgia Southern made a splash last week announcing they are moving on to the Sun Belt Conference in a couple of years, but did not make as much of a splash with their coaching hire. The Eagles grabbed a '98 graduate of UNC Wilmington in Mark Byington. Byington was a top assistant for Bobby Cremins at Charleston and spent this past year on Virginia Tech's staff. Byington may very well be successful, but for a struggling program slated to move up a level this seems like a rather non-exciting hire for the football-centric school.
Grade: C

Grand Canyon
New: Dan Majerle
Replaces: Russ Pennell

Grand Canyon will move into the WAC and play their first Division I schedule next year. I have nothing against "Thunder" Dan, but this move seems more like a good old boy move between Jerry Colangelo and the for-profit university. Pennell was a very successful coach on a number of levels and knew the state very well, I just didn't see the need for the move. Majerle will have plenty of time to put a winner together in the "new" WAC though.
Grade: D

Jackson State
New: Wayne Brent
Replaces: Tevester Alexander

Jackson State reached for a successful high school coach and former Ole Miss assistant to fill their vacancy. While it seems like an outside the box move, Brent knows the state extremely well and should bring some solid recruits to the SWAC program.
Grade: B+

Longwood
New: Jayson Gee
Replaces: Mike Gillian

Gee, the former associate head coach at Cleveland State, has been regarded as one of the top assistants available the past couple of years. Gee had tremendous success at the Division II level with the University of Charleston and brings extensive experience as a Division I college assistant at Youngstown State, Ohio, and Saint Bonaventure. This is a move that can finally bring some winning seasons to the Big South school.
Grade: A

Old Dominion
New: Jeff Jones
Replaces: Blaine Taylor

Wood Selig reached back into the "Good Ole' Boys Club" for this hire and this may be the most unpopular move there has been so far. Jones has been a solid coach at American and has rehabilitated his image, but he does not fit ODU at all! With such a wealth of up and coming assistants in the area (cough Mike Rhoades cough) the soon-to-be Conference USA school did not make the splash needed.
Grade: F

Pacific
New: Ron Verlin
Replaces: Bob Thomason

The Tigers just hired from within with their nearly 20 year assistant coach Ron Verlin. Verlin knows the program and the conference well and should be able to sustain some success for Pacific.
Grade: C

San Jose State
New: Dave Wojcik
Replaces: George Nessman

San Jose State grabbed a familiar face from the Mountain West in hiring Boise State assistant Dave Wojcik. Wojcik has also spent time at Wake Forest, Tulsa, Xavier, and James Madison before heading to Boise. He'll have an uphill climb in a solid conference, with a school who hasn't been dancing since 1996.
Grade: B

Siena
New: Jimmy Patsos
Replaces: Mitch Buonaguro

Siena had some great candidates on campus for their coaching search and made a slam dunk hire stealing Jimmy Patsos away from Loyola. The Saints have the arena but haven't had the successful team to take the program to the next level. Patsos knows the MAAC well and can also lead Siena should they transition to the Atlantic 10 or the Big East in the future.
Grade: A

South Alabama
New: Matthew Graves
Replaces: Ronnie Arrow

Graves is a great hire and an up-and-comer in the coaching industry. He'll take over a team that Ronnie Arrow bailed on early in the season this year. The former Butler assistant takes over a winning team and a team that can likely compete in the Sun Belt Conference right away. Don't be surprised to continue to see Graves as a hot name for years to come.
Grade: A

Troy
New: Phil Cunningham
Replaces: Don Maestri

Troy hasn't had a new head coach in virtually forever, but with Don Maestri's retirement Western Kentucky assistant Phil Cunningham will takeover. Maestri knows the conference and territory well and could bring some success to the Sun Belt school.
Grade: B

UMKC
New: Kareem Richardson
Replaces: Matt Brown

UMKC made a bit of a surprising announcement earlier this year announcing they are leaving the Summit for the WAC. The Kangaroos seemed to have their replacement for Matt Brown in place before he was out the door. Richardson is a former assistant at UMKC and is currently with Louisville. Unfortunately, Richardson has not gotten a chance to get his hands dirty with the Cardinals Final Four run.
Grade: B

See all of the mid-major coaching changes on our Coaching Carousel page.

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