Wow, sorry Purdue and Rutgers fans. It appears that your run of dominance over IU’s storied men’s basketball program is coming to an end.
Probably. We think.
Now that the Archie Miller era has run its course, IU athletic director Scott Dolson will be looking to make a splash in the coaching market. Here are some of the potential options for the Hoosiers to consider, and why they would — or wouldn’t! — make sense:
(Names listed in alphabetical order)
Chris Beard, Texas Tech
The 48-year-old has turned the Red Raiders into a power program in the Big 12, guiding the school to an Elite Eight in 2018, followed by a trip to the title game in 2019.
Why he makes sense: Did you know he was an assistant under Bob Knight? Surely, that’s news to you. But for real, he’s an excellent coach who’s done great work in Lubbock, going 111-54 in his five years at the helm.
Why he doesn’t: If he’s even interested, it’d be an expensive play for IU. According to the USA Today salary database, Beard is already the fifth-highest paid coach in the country. Indiana seems to be working with some major booster cash, but still. He also has deep roots in Texas — and the south, at large. It’s not clear he has any interest in going anywhere else.
John Beilein, BTN analyst
During the 2010s at Michigan, Beilein was not only one of the best coaches in the Big Ten, but in the country.
Why he makes sense: He’s won at each of his college stops, most recently taking Michigan to two Final Fours in six years. IU took a hard look at him while he was at West Virginia in 2006, and he’s maybe the best pure coach within IU’s reach right now. Also, Tom Crean’s head would spin.
Why he doesn’t: He’s 68 years old, so this wouldn’t seem to be a long-term play. With this pick, IU would likely be making two hires — Beilein and a successor for him to groom over the next few years.
Dane Fife, Michigan State assistant
Who in these parts doesn’t like the former IU guard and assistant coach? It’s Dane Fife!
Why he makes sense: He’s spent the past decade working under one of the Big Ten’s best coaches, and is generally thought of as a possible candidate to one day replace Tom Izzo. He’s also well-regarded as a recruiter, and knows everyone worth knowing in the Midwest.
Why he doesn’t: His only head coaching experience was at IPFW, and if he weren’t a former IU player would he really be on the Hoosiers’ short list?
Thad Matta, semi-retirement
In 13 years at Ohio State, Matta won 337 games and took the Buckeyes to two Final Fours.
Why he makes sense: Matta is an accomplished coach with deep connections in the state of Indiana. He also has a deep disdain for shady recruiting practices, so he’d fit IU’s administrative culture. He turned down the Georgia job three years ago before the Bulldogs hired Crean, but the IU position might be more sentimental to him.
Why he doesn’t: He’s just kind of chillin’ right now and, by all published accounts, he’s lovin’ it. He’s also had well-publicized health issues that impacted his final years on the sideline at Ohio State. But if he’s healthy and interested in diving back in, it’s worth kicking the tires here.
Porter Moser, Loyola Chicago
The tenth-year Ramblers coach has led his program to three Missouri Valley Conference regular season titles in the last four years, and made a Final Four appearance in 2018.
Why he makes sense: He’s built a really solid program at Loyola and, as a Naperville, Ill. native, he knows the region well after spending almost his entire career in the Midwest. With Cameron Krutwig set to leave after this year, it could also make sense for Moser to take the next step in his career.
Why he doesn’t: With all of his recent success in the Valley, Moser stands on a similar level as Archie Miller did during the 2017 coaching carousel. Not that IU won’t consider another mid-major option, but this feels like it’d be a hard sell at this point in time.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas
After several years in the professional ranks, Musselman returned to college within the last decade. He took Nevada to three straight NCAA Tournaments, and now has Arkansas playing at the crest of the SEC.
Why he makes sense: Modern basketball. And with his personality, he’s also the kind of coach who would embrace all of the non-coaching requirements that go into leading the Indiana men’s basketball program.
Why he doesn’t: He already has a good job at a school that values its basketball program. Otherwise? Help me out here. Not sure he’d be the first call, but I’m having a hard time coming up with strikes against this pick.
Nate Oats, Alabama
(Update: Per Matt Norlander, Oats isn’t interested)
He’s taken Buffalo and Alabama to the NCAA Tournament with a fun, exciting, up-and-down style of play.
Why he makes sense: Seriously, you want a fun team to watch after four years of ... uhhhh ... that? Well, Oats is your guy. His drive-and-kick offense produces a ton of 3-point opportunities and, defensively, ‘Bama is pretty darn good, too. Entering the NCAA Tournament, Oats’ team ranks second in adjusted defensive efficiency.
Why he doesn’t: He signed a contract extension in February that includes a hefty buyout of more than $10 million over the next two years. There are lots of well-heeled fans in the Varsity Club orbit, but yeeesh. That’s a lot of money for the latest flavor of the month.
Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics
Make him say no! He probably will, but you ask nicely anyway. And then ask one more time, just to be sure.
Why he makes sense: It’s Brad Stevens! You know, The Guy. They would rename Bloomington after him. It would all work out!
Why he doesn’t: Again, he has an NBA job — and not just any NBA job. He’s the coach of the Boston Celtics! And when he’s eventually not employed by Boston Celtics, he’ll have his pick of just about any other job he wants, NBA and college both. Also, the NBA regular season still has two-plus months to go. That’s a long time to wait — but a wait that would be well worth it.