Just when you thought the coaching carousel was slowing to a halt, it got a push of momentum. With John Beilein heading to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a highly attractive job is suddenly open.
Michigan will most likely look to current assistants Luke Yaklich or Saddi Washington to continue the program’s Beilein-infused ascendance. And, given its stature, its one of the handful of schools that seemingly can entertain big names like, gulp, Brad Stevens. But once upon a time Beilein was a mid-major coach, and no due diligence would be complete without scouring the mid-major ranks for candidates.
None of the names below will likely end up on the sidelines in Ann Arbor, yet, after getting the perfunctory “thanks, but no thanks” from Mark Few, here are some other names from mid-major conferences Michigan should at least think about:
Porter Moser, Loyola University Chicago
Moser’s name isn’t burning as brightly a year removed from the Ramblers’ improbable run to the Final Four, where they fell to the Wolverines. But that magical month still attaches cachet to the longtime Valley coach, who showed a willingness to listen to offers from bigger programs after a flirtation with St. John’s last month. There is more to Moser than just the Final Four run, as he built the program in Chicago with some quality recruiting — going back to fringe NBA player Milton Doyle — and an emphasis on a modern, versatile front court. His overall record over 15 seasons and three programs may be slightly underwhelming (246-226), but Moser is an attractive candidate who, if he chooses to move, seemingly makes more sense in the Midwest.
Scott Nagy, Wright State
If it’s worth anything, Nagy’s background has a tinge of Beilein to it. The Wright State coach didn’t incrementally work his way up the basketball ladder like Beilein did, but he did make his first mark as a head coach in Division II with South Dakota State. He then oversaw the Jackrabbits transition to Division I and growth into a Summit League power and NCAA tournament mainstay, with three appearances from 2011-2016. He’s continued winning in Dayton, leading the Raiders to 66 wins over his three seasons, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2018 and NIT bid this past season. He’s also got some major points in his favor, such as an adaptable style and big-time recruiting wins (Nate Wolters, Mike Daum).
Craig Smith, Utah State
If Michigan AD Warde Manuel wants to get progressive, he may look to Smith, who is seemingly poised to be the next “mentioned until he’s not” mid-major candidate in the vein of Nate Oats or Eric Musselman. Smith just led Utah State to massively successful season in his first year in Logan, going 28-7 and making the NCAA Tournament with one his own recruits — freshman big man Neemias Queta — in a major role. With Queta and Sam Merrill returning, the Aggies should be in store for more of the same in 2019-2020. Would Michigan get in before Smith’s market truly blows up?
Mike Rhoades, VCU
The second-year coach kept the VCU machine churning, engineering one of the country’s best defenses in a 25-8 season that earned the Rams an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. His name seemingly wasn’t bandied about that much as this year’s coaching carousel spun, but he’s now an experienced head coach that oversaw a massive improvement at VCU over his first and second seasons.
Mike Jones, Radford
This one gets flimsy, but if a connection to Beilein interests Michigan, Jones does have that. It predates any connection to Michigan, as Jones briefly served on Beilein’s staff at Richmond and West Virginia. The presumptive path of hiring a current Michigan assistant represents a much stronger and more recent connection to Beilein, but Jones does distinguish himself with head coaching experience, and has had notable success at Radford over the past two years with 45 wins and an NCAA Tournament bid in 2018.
And of course we’d be remiss not to mention:
Greg Kampe, Oakland
Your annual reminder that the site favorite has won over 600 games, and at a program in the state of Michigan to boot. Don’t leave us though, Greg.
Mike Davis, Detroit
A former Big Ten regular season winning coach — and four-time conference coach of the year — is right down the road. Give it a think?