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Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Coaching carousel chatter


Quick hits for Wednesday:

After conferring with multiple sources regarding several of the nation's coaching vacancies, let's take a turn around the coaching carousel:

• Unless something happens this week to jeopardize a deal, Texas Tech and Billy Gillispie should reach an agreement soon. Gillispie would be the right fit for the Red Raiders and should be able to energize an apathetic fan base by putting out a hard-nosed product. Gillispie didn't stop being a quality coach at Kentucky after resurrecting programs at UTEP and Texas A&M.

• Fairfield's Ed Cooley has been granted permission to talk with Providence, something he'll do once the Stags are done or at least get a break from playing in the NIT. The Stags upset Colorado State in the first round and now catch a break with a second-round game against Kent State after the Golden Flashes took down Saint Mary's in Moraga, Calif. Cooley is an incredible success story in Rhode Island, coming from poor background and playing at Stonehill College in Easton, Mass., before going on to be a successful assistant coach at Boston College and now coming off a MAAC regular-season title at Fairfield. Providence needs a personality like Cooley to rally the Friar faithful. He also can coach. Winning the MAAC is no easy chore. This would be a quality move for the Friars.

• Marquette coach Buzz Williams will have some interesting choices. He probably can have the Arkansas and Oklahoma jobs if he wants them or he can stay with the Golden Eagles, where he has continually produced NCAA tournament teams.

• Arkansas cannot hire a coach who has had NCAA issues and is under strict orders from university administration to not consider a candidate who has had any problems with the NCAA. One name that has emerged on the Arkansas radar is Kansas State's Frank Martin, to see whether he might have interest in leaving Manhattan. Missouri's Mike Anderson remains the slam dunk choice to return to Arkansas, but nothing may happen on that front until the Tigers are finished with the NCAA tournament. Anderson has flirted with other jobs before (see: Oregon), and if he doesn't leave for Arkansas -- assuming he's as high on the Razorbacks as they are on him -- it might be hard to see him leaving Missouri anytime soon.

• Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione has a tough task ahead of him. Potential NCAA sanctions loom over the program, although the Sooners are banking on the issues being secondary in nature, which would result in scholarship reductions and no institutional control issues. The Sooners are looking everywhere and won't hesitate to send out feelers to see whether current head coaches are willing to leave good jobs (think Tubby Smith going from Kentucky to Minnesota or Herb Sendek from NC State to Arizona State). Buzz Williams makes the most sense here.

• Former OU coach Jeff Capel had a chance to go east after Blake Griffin left and probably should have bolted when he had the chance. I'd be surprised if he didn't resurface in a league like the Colonial, where he had success when he was at VCU.

• Richmond's Chris Mooney will be a hot name this month and could be a solid second option for NC State or Georgia Tech if they fail to land a higher-profile name. Richmond athletic director Jim Miller is well aware of the possibility that Mooney could be poached.

• NC State will go after heavy hitters such as Texas' Rick Barnes (a North Carolina native), Pitt's Jamie Dixon, UCLA's Ben Howland, Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon, Notre Dame's Mike Brey and Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings. Arizona's Sean Miller is unlikely to move now that he has the Wildcats atop the Pac-10. Remember, the Wolfpack did this last time they had a coaching vacancy and couldn't land then-Memphis coach John Calipari or ESPN analyst Steve Lavin, and turned to an alumnus in Sidney Lowe.

I can't see anyone from this list leaving for the Wolfpack. Stallings worked for Roy Williams, and the idea of competing against Carolina might not be enticing. If Stallings were to leave Vandy, he probably would be a better fit for Georgia Tech, where academics are a high priority. Brey does have a senior-laden team, but does he want to compete against his former boss at Duke?

As for NC State, it hired Dan Parker's search firm to aid in its coaching search. Why? AD Debbie Yow is from a basketball family and was the AD at Maryland. Why would she need help?

• Even though he's a Xavier graduate, Musketeers coach Chris Mack should be high on any of these lists for what he has done in a short period of time with this team. Another name you'll be seeing more of is VCU's Shaka Smart who, like Mooney, could be a second-tier option for some of these ACC job openings. Smart has done what every prior coach has done at VCU: win (see: Capel and current Alabama coach Anthony Grant).

• Now that Saint Mary's season is finished, Randy Bennett should be one of the top choices at Utah. Utah could have hired Bennett the last time it had an opening but didn't. Bennett probably would rather be at Arizona State, but he's a great fit for Utah, too.

• Montana's Wayne Tinkle is high on Wyoming's list, but he also could be an option at Fresno State if it decides to part with Steve Cleveland.