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Hot Seats: Big Ten Basketball Edition

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Who’s getting fired? Who should replace them?

Syndication: FortCollins
Will a B1G school hire this man?
Timothy Hurst/The Coloradoan

So I originally wasn’t going to post this until Monday, but then MNW promised articles about this and other stuff coming this weekend two separate times so I’ll go ahead and wrap this one up today and keep the readers waiting in anticipation for the other article on Monday.

It’s been awhile since I wrote an article for OTE - a new job and spending more time with family in the past few weeks has generally lowered my availability - but have no fears about my Coaches of the Decade series. It will be continued. However, since I no longer have any hope of doing it justice and finishing the series by the NCAA tournament, I’ll be releasing editions of that whenever the hell I feel like it instead of weekly (or biweekly in an attempt to finish on time).

Which brings us to today’s article. We are rapidly approaching the end of the Big Ten basketball season and that means it is time to look at coaching hot seats!

Unlike in football, where I rule the B1G hot seats article kingdom, I’ve decided to crowdsource the basketball version in the form of a question and answer article. Thanks to Buffkomodo, MaximumSam, MNW, misdreavus79, HWAHSQB, and Kindof... for their contributions.

Without further ado for the readers to skip over, here’s our enlightened takes on the coaching situations across the Big Ten:

Question 1: Which schools should start over at the head coaching position this spring?

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 22 Nebraska at Northwestern
Maybe Fred should try yelling at the refs or something?
Photo by Chris Kohley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Buffkomodo: It brings me great joy to say Nebraska actually. Hoiberg is a certifiable dickhead and has accomplished nothing with…well nothing. It’s been 3 years and the needle hasn’t moved a tick. In fact, should Nebrasketball lose out, they will have won 21 games in 3 years, each year having 7 wins. Not good enough for someone having coached professionally….oh yeah, they ran him out of that, didn’t they?

MaximumSam: Maryland is the easy answer. Danny Manning parlayed one decent season at Tulsa into a long and bad tenure at Wake Forest. There is no reason to think he’s the answer for the Terps, who should be able to get a strong candidate. I’m less sure on Hoiberg. The results on the court are dismal, though he has had success in recruiting, especially on the transfer market. If he could have a group of guys stay for more than one year, it feels like he might have something. Perhaps a hopeful wish. Northwestern once again fields a competent team that loses quite a bit.

BoilerUp89: Maryland, Northwestern, Nebraska, Michigan, and Indiana. Maryland has an interim that was never going to be the permanent guy because he’s a bad college coach. Northwestern has been in the 300s of KenPom’s luck ratings for a half decade now for a reason. The Hoiberg era has fallen flat. Juwan Howard should have been fired for his actions and therefore Michigan should be starting over. Indiana I’m including because I’m a spiteful person.

MNW: Of course Maryland.

I don’t know what to do with Hoiberg at Nebraska. It feels like he can’t possibly have been this bad for three years, and yet watching the Huskers at Northwestern on Tuesday, I saw no discernible identity or plan for the program going forward. Run a lot, chuck threes badly, get dominated inside.

And then Northwestern. Ohhhhhhh Northwestern. If I have my druthers, I think Chris Collins goes: he’s below Bill Carmody levels of winning overall (.471 to .476) and barely squeaks past him in the Big Ten (.331 to .318). That’s damning, because Bill Carmody went 2-14 and 1-17 in the middle of his tenure. But whereas with Carmody you knew exactly his foibles—the Princeton Offense, the 1-3-1 defense, the poor rebounding and unathletic centers—and, at least for me, could embrace them, with Collins we see no solutions, just the same uninspired offense and mediocre defense. (Carmody critics can say “Make Shots” isn’t any more motivating...at least it was a clearly defined, built-in flaw to the PO.) There are no answers in the Collins regime, and I have no confidence that a stern talking-to changes that.

But will Northwestern do anything? The athletics department has supposedly changed since then, and I’m holding out hope that new AD Derrick Gragg scrounges in the couch cushions after a Pat Ryan-Pat Fitzgerald meeting and comes up with the change to buy Collins out.

But I doubt that happens.

misdreavus79: I’m going to skip over the obvious “Maryland” answer since they will be looking for a new coach, and go with Northwestern as my answer. Chris Collins did something no other coach had done before him. Then he proceeded to have a losing season every single year after, regardless of roster make up. And, this season, he returned nearly the entire team and somehow was unable to get out of the basement of the conference.

That alone would have been enough in any other instance, but then you realize this is the second time Northwestern returns nearly the entire team to no avail, with the tournament team being the first instance of this happening.

The other obvious choice, of course, is Nebraska. It looks like the Hoiberg experiment isn’t going to succeed out in Lincoln, and I don’t know that another year is really going to do much for the Huskers, especially if half the team transfers out at the end of the season, again.

HWAHSQB: Michigan, because we don’t need physically aggressive lunatics in this conference. If Fran McCaffrey can keep his hands to himself, anybody should be able to.

Kind of...: SHOULD? Maryland, Northwestern, and Nebraska. [I’m writing after it’s been announced that Hoiberg will return, so I’ll save most of my space for later questions.] As for Michigan, I’m glad Howard got a hefty suspension, and a firing wouldn’t have been unjustified, but I’m fine with how it was resolved. As for Indiana, Woodson isn’t young, but 1) they beat Purdue, and 2) the recruiting is pretty solid. Given what Juwan Howard did in year 2, it’s too early to give up on Woodson.

Northwestern v Illinois
Chris Collins counting the number of losing B1G seasons he’s had since the year
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The consensus seems to be that Maryland has already moved on, Nebraska and Northwestern should, and that Howard is an asshole. Nobody joined me in thinking Indiana should start over, but that’s probably because they (unlike me) did not know about question 3 yet. But who should be starting over isn’t really a secret. We all know who sucks at their job. The real question is...

Question 2: Which schools will start over at the head coaching position this spring?

Maryland v Rutgers
Stay calm Terrapins. I’m going to be the only B1G coach to win an away game at the RAC this year.
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

“writer’s” note: I did ask this question before the news broke that Hoiberg would be returning to Nebraska for the 2022-23 season. Part of the reasoning for asking these questions this week was that I would have time to release this article before anything became official. Naturally, Nebraska’s AD is a big, giant poo-poo head and decided to crush that ambition.

Buffkomodo: I think Fred will stay one more year, but Maryland and maybe Northwestern? I know Northwestern has asked this a few times over the past couple seasons, but they’ve stayed the same over the past few years and that buyout is probably less than $10 million. Probably language that makes that not so bad and they may be able to move on instead of waiting until 2025.

MaximumSam: Maryland is again the easy answer and the only team I think will move on.

BoilerUp89: Maryland and Northwestern. Nebraska isn’t paying that much money to fire a basketball coach when they couldn’t afford to fire the football coach. Michigan Wolverines already said they are fine with Howard’s actions.

MNW: Only Maryland.

Fred’s now confirmed back at Nebraska unless he does something horrific in the off-season, and looks like buying out Collins is somewhere between $9-11 million (I don’t care enough to confirm that number). That kind of a buyout? In THIS economy?

misdreavus79: Maryland goes here, because we know they’re doing a search.

Kind of...: I get that Nebraska would have had to shell out to dump Fred, but, if I’m Scott Frost, I’m still shaking my head. At least the football Huskers competed all year. Maryland will. Manning simply hasn’t shown anything. Northwestern will too. Shrewsberry looks like a good hire by PSU; Minnesota is competing hard under Johnson. The football team is leaking oil. You need to do something.

BKN-HEAT/BULLETS
Wait a second. That looks familiar. Do employers not do background checks anymore?
Photo credit should read -/AFP via Getty Images

Question 3: As the new athletic director of your answers to question 1, who would you attempt to hire to be your new head coach?

MNW actually wanted me to break this up into separate articles for each position. Which maybe we will do in the future, but these are still mostly hypothetical openings so combined into one big pot they go for now.

BuffKomodo: Who wants to coach Nebrasketball? The first google search I had to Nebraska basketball was the women’s team, so that’s the state of the program. You’d need a splash hire though because I’m not certain you can sustain long term basketball success in that circus of an athletic department. Energy…unemployed…NBA ties…unemployed…program builder...HOLY FUCKING SHIT I’M HIRING TOM CREAN. Nobody plays 2-3 in the B1G so it’s a slam dunk hire.

Tom Crean Pants

MaximumSam: I don’t know how the answer isn’t Rick Pitino.

BoilerUp89: I have 5 positions to fill so let’s get started. Maryland opened first so I’ll start with them and gift them Andy Enfield from USC. He has ties to the area, Dunk City was fun, and he’s a fairly successful coach laboring in the barren wasteland that is the Pac 12 after dark.

Northwestern has played a boring, listless offense for years and needs to try something different that what the rest of the conference is doing to make them interesting. In the past that was the 1-3-1. Sadly, I can’t find a successful coach playing a 1-3-1 these days. As a result I’ll grant them the current coach of the fastest tempo team in the country: Pat Kelsey of Charleston. Kelsey is in his first season at Charleston and while he’s not going to win the league or anything since it is after all year 1, he had enough previous success at Winthrop and has previously been an assistant at the power conference level (Wake Forest. He also was an assistant at Xavier but that was in their A10 days) so I have confidence in his ability to recruit. As an added benefit it pisses off Wisconsin fans and their love of slow basketball.

Nebraska is a tough choice for me and I’m down to two guys. Grant MacCasland (North Texas) and Niko Medved (Colorado State). Both are up and coming, underrated head coaches with experience in the recruiting areas (west of the Mississippi until you hit the Rockies) that I think Nebraska needs to be success in. Both should have been hired by a power conference program last spring. Nebraska should take advantage of other programs’ mistakes.

Saddi Washington would make some sense for Michigan had he gotten either of the open directional Michigan jobs last spring (he didn’t because they both went to failed former head coaches of power conference jobs and are of course still awful). Without any head coaching experience and having been on Howard’s staff this year I’d rather start over if I’m the AD. As a result, Dennis Gates of Cleveland State gets the Michigan job. Gates was a long time assistant under Hamilton at Florida State but has been the head coach of Cleveland State the past three seasons. He has already clinched the Horizon league regular season championship for the second consecutive year. He has been the Horizon coach of the year both of his first two years.

The Indiana Hoosiers hire a guy named Archibald Müller. Thomas Cream, Jonathan Gross, and Edward Yordan round out his staff. I have my reasons.

Michigan v Indiana Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images
Tom Crean - Losing to Minnesota!?!?
Purdue v Rutgers Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

misdreavus79: For Northwestern, I go “proven coach at a lower level that can build something over time.” Rutgers did this with great success in Steve Pikiell, and Northwestern can too.

For Nebraska, I send my sincerest apologies to Tim Miles and beg him to come back to Nebraska. I also back a brinks truck at his doorstep.

Kind of...: I’m going to take a bow and you can all call me smug. But Dec. 3, I floated Enfield’s name for Maryland, and the response I received was “nobody at Maryland wants Enfield.” So, as far as I’m concerned, Maryland can fuck off and hire Lefty Driesell’s ghost for all I care. Wait, he’s still alive? Fine, whatever, hiring fucking Enfield like I told you to months ago.

I’m going to pre-empt @MNW and/or make his day, but Northwestern should hire Darian DeVries for Drake. He has that program playing consistently good—and entertaining—ball despite some higher academic requirements than most MVC schools, AND his son is a 6’7” frosh who can score effectively inside, outside, and form the line.

Nebraska should hire Medved if they can get him. If not, they should get Eric Henderson from South Dakota State. He played college ball at Wayne State (Nebraska, not Michigan) so knows the state and surrounding area. He has the Jackrabbits playing entertaining offense AND smart defense, and he’s ready for a bigger job.

editor’s note: Henderson was my third option for Nebraska and may make better sense that MacCasland. I think MacCasland is a slightly better coach, but Henderson’s recruiting area may better fit Nebraska.

MNW: A bullet point for each!

  • Maryland Terrapins: Enfield is the slam-dunk hire here. If he can’t be lured away from USC, though—and I could see the Trojans backing up the truck to keep him around.
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers: Eric Henderson of South Dakota State is exactly the right answer, Kind of. He’s been there long enough now that we know it’s not just the echo of T.J. Otzelberger, and all your points about Henderson’s style—along with his ability to build a program—would fit well there. That said, DeVries should get a look, too.
  • Northwestern Wildcats: I tell you the one thing that gives me pause about DeVries—been quite a few transfers that have gone into building that program. Not sure I want to be relying on that plus his son. I have a draft article somewhere with a list of options, but they’re not likely to be popular, as I’m willing to dip back into the Ivy League and call Mitch Henderson of Princeton or James Jones of Yale.
South Dakota State v USC
The next coach of Nebraska? Probably not since someone will hire him this season. Good going Cornhuskers
Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

Poll

Who is getting axed this spring?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Collins
    (16 votes)
  • 78%
    No seriously the answer is Chris Collins
    (59 votes)
75 votes total Vote Now

Share your thoughts, tell us who you would hire, and inform us why we are wrong in the comments!