Tipsheet: College Hoops coaching merry-go-round spins as Crean, Weber depart | Jeff Gordon

The college basketball coaching merry-go-round has started to spin. Right now, Missouri’s coach Cuonzo Martin is sticking to his job, but he’s not clinging.

As expected, Georgia and Kansas State joined Maryland and Louisville as major college programs looking for a new coach. UMass is looking for a new coach at Atlantic 10 and Florida Gulf Coast and The Citadel are among the mid-major jobs recently opened.

Georgia fired former Marquette and Indiana coach Tom Crean after his spectacularly unsuccessful four-year tenure. The Bulldogs finished 6-26 this season and went 45-75 during his tenure. That sent him out the door with a $3.2 million buyout.

The school has ample resources to hire a top coach, but the Bulldogs last won an NCAA tournament game in 2002 and have only made Big Dance Three three times in that span. So who is signing up for this?

Contenders expected to feature in Athens include hugely successful Cleveland State coach Dennis Gates, Chattanooga coach Lamont Paris and assistant Xavier Jonas Hayes.

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In other unsurprising news, Bruce Weber stepped aside in the state of Kansas. The former SIU Carbondale and Illinois coach came into the season under pressure and while he really let his hair down, he just couldn’t get the Wildcats over his shoulder.

He led Kansas State to five NCAA tournaments in his first seven seasons, but then lost in Big 12 play in the last three seasons.

The Wildcats flirted with great deliberation this season before suffering a series of agonizingly close defeats that saw Weber reconcile his fate.

“I’m very, very proud of my time here,” Weber told reporters after K-State’s loss at the end of the season. “Tournament bids, I wish I had more . . . We won titles, we got it right, we made it when our boys graduated. I’m just proud of what I’ve done, proud of these guys, proud of the guys I’ve coached. Whatever happens in the future, happens, and that’s okay.”

Antsy boosters will be pushing for Brad Underwood, who has a great thing going in Illinois, and disgraced former Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.

More realistic targets would be North Texas coach Grant McCasland, Wyoming coach Jeff Linder, Drake coach Darian DeVries, Colorado State coach Niko Medved, Baylor assistant Jerome Tang and South coach Carolina (and former K-State coach) Frank Martin.

Stanford chose to retain coach Jarod Haase despite failing to secure a single NCAA offer in his six years. In 2020, his team was on the bubble with a 20-12 mark, but the pandemic canceled the Big Dance.

Also, Georgetown appears to be sticking with Patrick Ewing despite their dismal 6-25 season — which included a 0-19 death march in the SEC game.

That provides some context for Missouri boosters trying to oust Martin despite his two NCAA tournaments in the four years the event has been under his stewardship.

Here’s what people wrote about all of this:

Matt Norlander, “After talking to various sources over the past few weeks, it is expected that at least another half-dozen power conference jobs will become vacant over the next week and more. The SEC is expected to be the league with the most changes, with the potential for up to six vacancies (although I’d be surprised if the number is higher than four). Georgia is the first; there will definitely be more coming soon, industry sources said.”

Barkley Truax, “The Gates Cleveland State squad had just ended their season with an upset loss to Wright State 82-67 in the Horizon League semifinals. He previously led the Vikings to a conference championship share last season with a 15-6 record in the Horizon League. Hayes, on the other hand, is considered a rising star in the college basketball coaching charts. He has been with Xavier for the past four seasons but worked at Georgia under former head coach Mark Fox. It should be noted that Xavier has two Georgia players that he influenced in recruiting, meaning he is familiar with the local scene in terms of product landing in the state.”

Rob Cassidy, “Hayes, an Atlanta native and former UGA player, fits the Bulldogs in a number of ways. In addition to hatcheries such as Maryland and Washington, DC, he is currently recruiting the Southeast for the Musketeers and knows the landscape of areas where the Bulldogs need to find talent. The fact that he once played senior AAU ball in the Atlanta area will pay off on the trail as well.”

David Cobb, “Crean’s best season with Georgia came in the 2020-21 season when the Bulldogs finished 14-12 (7-11 SEC), but the program hit rock bottom this season amid a mass exodus from last season’s roster. Among those who dropped out were KD Johnson (Auburn), Sahvir Wheeler (Kentucky), Toumani Camara (Dayton), Tye Fagan (Ole Miss), Justin Kier (Arizona) and Andrew Garcia (Kent State). The Bulldogs started 2-4, with each of their first four losses this season coming against respectable Power Conference opponents. However, then came home losses to Wofford, East Tennessee State and Gardner-Webb before SEC play began. Those losses indicated exactly how bad things were going to be in the league. Georgia had its highlights this season, such as an 82-79 win over Memphis on December 1 and an 82-76 win over Alabama on January 25. The Bulldogs also challenged the then-No. 1 Auburn on February 5 before falling 74-72. But casualties, often punctures, have been all too common for UGA this season. The next Bulldogs coach will have his work to do. Though Crean was able to capitalize on UGA’s proximity to Atlanta recruiting powerhouses to bring in Anthony Edwards from the 2019 class as No. 1, he was unable to match Edwards’ only season in the program with notable triumphs on the place to lead.”

Erich Bossi, 247 Sports: “The opening created by Weber’s departure will be one of the most coveted jobs on the college coaching carousel of 2022. Make no mistake, the job in the state of Kansas is excellent. They have history, resources, and a strong following. Athletic Director Gene Taylor will have many qualified candidates showing interest, presenting a real opportunity to hire a great coach and rebuild the program. The question is, who should he address? Of course, many K-State fans will be crying out for current Illinois coach Brad Underwood. Playing and training in Manhattan, he’s incredibly popular there and got the Illini rolling after winning a share of the Big Ten’s regular-season title. Given his current contract and how well things are going, Underwood seems unlikely to leave. But there’s no way to go about this job hunt without at least calling Underwood, maybe several, and forcing him to say no.”

Neil Blackmon, Saturday in the south: “Mike White did an admirable job replacing Billy Donovan, a generations Hall of Famer coach, with integrity, running a clean program and 7 seasons of success. White has also won at least 1 NCAA tournament game in all 4 of his NCAA tournament appearances and has advanced to an Elite Eight. But the Gators were a bubble team in 3 of White’s 7 years, ending on the wrong side of the bubble twice. Florida hasn’t really contended for an SEC championship since its third season, when the Gators finished 3rd in the league and led the SEC and country in Quad 1 wins. That means the program with the second most SEC titles in the last 30 years has not fought for victory in the last 4 seasons. Florida just has too much tradition, too much administrative support, and too good a natural recruiting base not to compete for SEC championships. Scott Stricklin doesn’t have a basketball background, but he can see the banners at Exactech Arena and the increasing number of empty seats at home games. Apathy is a dangerous thing, and Florida needs to play better on the pitch in 2022-23. White has an $8.75 million buyout, which can be prohibitive, especially given what Florida just agreed to pay Dan Mullen to keep him from coaching the remainder of his sizable football coaching contract. White is also very respected, both by management and by those who make the big decisions within the sports department. . . However, there are rumors that White is aiming for a graceful exit. Shaka Smart did so last offseason in Texas, jumping to a lower-profile but still quality job at Marquette. White might find a similar move, such as a respected Big East program like Butler, equally appealing. Should the position at his alma mater Ole Miss become vacant, there might be mutual interest.”

“In life you will have bumps in the road. And right now, this year, these were my bumps in the road, our bumps in the road. And for me, that’s one of the things about talking to kids, it’s just how you come out of it; How do you deal with that?” he said. “I think my boys handled it with class. I think I handled it with class. Our better years are ahead of us.”

Ewing on trying to get ahead in Georgetown.

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