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Wake Forest has no shortage of strong candidates to replace Danny Manning

Wes Miller, Steve Forbes, and...Tim Duncan? Nah.

East Tennessee State v Illinois Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

In our new weird reality, time doesn’t matter. There are no days of the week, each day is like three hours long, and you’re going to be wearing the same sweatpants six weeks from now.

Another thing: the coaching carousel can start spinning again at any moment.

That happened on Saturday when Wake Forest parted ways with head coach Danny Manning. Over six seasons, the Demon Deacons went 78-111 with just one trip to the NCAA Tournament — a First Four appearance in 2017. Wake also never finished better than 10th in the ACC and went 30-80 overall in conference.

In other words, it was time for Manning to go, and presumably, someone close to the university finally stepped up to pay his massive buyout.


Stadium’s Jeff Goodman gets us started.

For now, Randolph Childress is the acting head coach, but the university has hired a search firm to help find a permanent replacement, according to Goodman.

No need for that, Mr. Currie. We’ve got your list of candidates right here.

The Longshot, but Go For It Tier

John Beilein

For the purposes of this website, Beilein is the former head coach at Canisius and Richmond. For the purposes of reality, he is best known as the one who brought West Virginia to national relevance, brought Michigan to the national title game twice, then lasted less than a full season with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There’s no indication that Beilein, 67, is done coaching, and he is a proven winner at the high-major level. For someone with his resume, one might think Beilein could swing a better job at a more successful program, but that opportunity may not come. No other high-major position is likely to open this summer and with no basketball season even guaranteed to be played in 2020-21, it’s possible that there won’t be an opening next year either. The guy isn’t getting any younger.

For the other side of that, let’s bring in universal beacon of positivity and optimism, Jeff Goodman:

Yes, most Power 5 universities have an athletic department budget of approximately $TEXAS, but these are uncertain times and, again, the university just shelled out north of $15 million to can Manning. Beilein was making $3.37 million at Michigan and would come with a high price tag.

The “Great Get” Tier

Wes Miller, UNC Greensboro

Miller is the most logical choice. He has spent his entire coaching career in North Carolina, serving as an assistant for Elon, High Point, and UNCG before becoming the Spartans’ head coach in 2011. The Spartans have won at least 23 games each of the past four seasons and have a pair of NIT appearances and an NCAA Tournament to show for it. Miller is the winningest coach in UNCG history, a two-time SoCon Coach of the Year, and won a national championship as a player for North Carolina in 2005. Oh, and his dad is a big-time donor to Wake Forest. I’m not saying, I’m just saying.

Steve Forbes, East Tennessee State

Forbes is a little older than Miller, if that means anything to you, but has experience that Miller cannot boast: he’s been an assistant at the high-major level. Forbes served under Billy Gillespie at Texas A&M and Bruce Pearl at Tennessee. This is where Forbes became known as a great recruiter, which would be essential at a school that comes with the handicap of being the fourth-most-prestigious program in its home state.

On the court, Forbes has crammed a ton of success into only five seasons. ETSU has won at least 24 games every year and has not finished worse than third in the SoCon in that time. He brought the Buccaneers to the 2017 NCAA Tournament and would have had them in the 2020 tournament if it had actually been held.

Forbes also has a marvelous Twitter account and is a fantastic follow. That has to count for something.

The “Good Get” Tier

Bob Richey, Furman

Richey’s name hasn’t appeared on any early lists, but don’t count him out. As the SoCon has developed into one of the best mid-major conferences in the country, the Paladins have strung together some of their best seasons in program history. Richey has not brought Furman to the NCAA Tournament, but has developed high-major-caliber players over the past three years. Devin Sibley got things started three years ago while Jordan Lyons developed behind him. The same could be said for forward Matt Rafferty, with Clay Mounce and Noah Gurley turning into impact players after him. Richey has retained his best talent year over year, which has become a Herculean task at the mid-major level.

Pat Kelsey, Winthrop

OK, get your jokes off about Kelsey and the UMass debacle a few years ago.

Done? Great.

Kelsey checks all the boxes that the non-Beilein names above do: he’s won a lot, developed guys, gone to the tournament, etc. He spent eight years on staff at Wake Forest in the early 2000s while the program enjoyed some of its greatest success. He was DOBO from 2001-04 as the Deacons went to the tournament all four years and reached the Sweet 16 with some guy named Chris Paul on the team. As an assistant from 2004-09, Wake went to the tournament two more times as the program transitioned from the late Skip Prosser’s control to Dino Gaudio. Kelsey’s familiarity with the program and his success at literally every stop in his career can’t be overlooked.

LeVelle Moton, North Carolina Central

Every time a high-major job between DC and South Carolina opens up, Moton is mentioned as a candidate. And with reason. Had the MEAC Tournament not been canceled, Moton would have had a great shot at getting the Eagles to their fourth straight NCAA Tournament (and, sadly, probably their fourth straight First Four). Getting to four straight tournaments is tough at any mid-major. Getting to four straight tournaments at an HBCU is borderline insane, given the inherent difficulties each program has to face. Moton, who also has experience with USA Basketball, has more than enough coaching awards to fill Angela Lento’s weird trophy room.

The “Could be a Solid Get” Tier

Ryan Odom, UMBC

Hey — Odom has done something literally no other head coach has ever done. He led a 16 seed to a win over a 1 seed. I don’t know if you knew that. Odom has done pretty well for himself in his short head coaching career, winning 21 games and taking Lenoir-Rhyne to the Division II quarterfinals before taking over the Retrievers and immediately bringing them to the CIT in 2017. Odom and UMBC pulled that legendary upset over Virginia in 2018, then won 21 games in 2019. Not bad! He’s just not as established as some of the other candidates on this list. If hired, he might work out great. Or not. We’re not really sure.

The Tim Duncan Tier

Tim Duncan

That’d be fun. Won’t happen, but it’d be fun.