So, who can Tennessee find that's willing to inherit NCAA sanctions, replace a popular figure like Bruce Pearl and try to revive a program that is losing six seniors, plus potentially a junior (Scotty Hopson) and a freshman (Tobias Harris) who may turn pro?
Brad Stevens, Butler: Only 34, he already has a runnerup finish in the 2010 NCAA Tournament and has his 2011 team in the Sweet 16 this March after beating Old Dominion 60-58 and top-seeded Pitt 71-70. As the hottest young coach in the profession, he may have zero interest in a program with Tennessee's current baggage. It's worth a phone call to make sure, though. NEGATIVE: Every program in the country with an opening seems to want him.
Shaka Smart, Virginia Commonwealth: Only 33, he's one of the rising stars of the business. After assisting Billy Donovan at Florida in 2008-09, he went 27-9 in his head-coaching debut at VCU in 2009-10. This year's team lost 77-72 to Tennessee in the NIT Season Tipoff Tournament last November but owns a 26-11 record and a berth in the Sweet 16 after upsetting Georgetown 74-56 and Purdue 94-76 in The Dance. Known as an excellent recruiter, he appears to be the total package. NEGATIVE: He's on the fast track and might view UT as a stepping stone.
Mike Anderson, Missouri: Known for his "fastest 40 minutes in basketball" mantra, Anderson's teams press and run, resulting in fun-to-watch, high-scoring action. The 2010-11 Tigers ranked 10th nationally by averaging 80.8 points per game. This carried them to a 23-11 season that ended with a 78-63 first-round loss to Cincinnati in the NCAA Tournament. Anderson, 50, has a 111-57 record at Mizzou that includes a 4-3 record in The Dance. He previously went 89-41 at UAB after assisting Nolan Richardson at Arkansas for 17 years. NEGATIVE: Anderson already rejected overtures from Georgia, Alabama, Memphis and Oregon in the past two years.
Anthony Grant, Alabama: Grant, who turns 45 on April 15, is a star on the rise. He went 28-7, 24-9 and 24-10 in three years at Virginia Commonwealth, winning the Colonial Athletic Association each time and earning NCAA bids in Year 1 and Year 3. He went just 17-15 at Bama in 2009-10 but has a 24-11 record thus far this season that included a win at Tennessee and an SEC West championship. His Crimson Tide beat Coastal Carolina 68-44 in Round 1 of the National Invitation Tournament and faces New Mexico in Round 2 tonight. NEGATIVE: Coaches rarely leave for another job within the same conference.
Tubby Smith, Minnesota: He turns 60 in June, so there's some wear on his tires, but can you imagine how motivated he'd be to beat a Kentucky program that unceremoniously dumped him five years ago? Smith went 263-83 at UK with a national title in 1998 but also proved he can win at mid-level programs such as Tulsa (79-43), Georgia (45-19) and Minnesota (80-53). His records with the Gophers the past four years were 20-14, 22-11, 21-14, 17-14 with NCAA bids in Year 2 and Year 3. The chance to play for a proven winner like Smith might convince Tobias Harris to return for his sophomore season. Moreover, a steady hand like Smith could help navigate Tennessee through the turbulent waters that may lie ahead. NEGATIVE: The opportunity for revenge against UK may not be enough to lure Smith back to the SEC.
Chris Mooney, Richmond: Mooney, age 38, has the Spiders in the Sweet 16 after beating Vanderbilt (69-66) and Morehead State (65-48) in their first two NCAA Tournament tests. He debuted as a head coach with an 18-12 record at Air Force in 2004-05, then took the reins at Richmond. After going just 13-17, 8-22 and 16-15 in Years 1, 2 and 3, he has posted records of 20-16, 26-9 and 29-7 thus far in 2010-11. NEGATIVE: Mooney is a hot commodity right now, so there could be a lot of competition for his services.
Mark Turgeon, Texas A&M: Though fairly young (46), Turgeon has a 249-158 record that includes a 97-40 mark with the Aggies. He led Wichita State to a 26-9 record and Sweet 16 appearance in 2005-06 and has thrived at A&M, going 25-11, 24-10, 24-10 and 24-9. This season ended with a 57-50 NCAA Tournament loss to Florida State. NEGATIVE: Would he leave a solid program in College Station for a shaky situation in Knoxville?
Scott Drew, Baylor: Only 40, Drew posted records of 21-11, 24-15 and 28-8 before falling back to 18-13 this season. Following a 20-11 record at Valparaiso in 2002-03, he assumed a monumental rebuilding job at Baylor, going 8-21, 9-19, 4-13 and 15-16 in his first four seasons. No stranger to postseason play, he made the NIT finals in 2009 and reached the NCAA's Elite Eight in 2010 by beating top-seeded Duke in the Sweet 16. His 2009-10 team ranked No. 10 nationally. He is known as an exceptional recruiter. NEGATIVE: His record at Baylor is a modest 127-116.
Rick Byrd, Belmont: He's a Knoxville native and UT alumnus with a career record of 610-333 and four NCAA bids at the small Nashville-based school. His 2010-11 Bruins suffered two tough losses to Tennessee in Thompson-Boling Arena, 85-76 and 66-65, but finished 30-5 after losing to Wisconsin in their NCAA Tournament opener. Belmont shot a lot of 3s and averaged 79.7 points per game this season, ranking 12th nationally in scoring. Byrd turns 58 in April and has been at Belmont 25 years but the opportunity to be near his parents and rescue his alma mater might convince him to return home. NEGATIVE: Byrd seems solidly entrenched at Belmont.
Greg Kampe, Oakland: He runs an uptempo brand of basketball that produced 85.6 points per game in 2010-11, ranking No. 2 nationally. His past three teams have gone 23-13, 26-9 and 25-10. This year's Golden Grizzlies beat Tennessee 89-82 in Knoxville and gave heavily favored Texas fits before bowing 85-81 in their NCAA Tournament opener. NEGATIVE: He's 55 years old and has been coaching the same program for 27 years.
Donnie Tyndall, Morehead State: After going 12-18 and 15-15 in his first two years coaching his alma mater, the 40-year-old Tyndall has posted records of 20-16, 24-11 and 25-10 the past three season. His 2010-11 team shocked Louisville 62-61 in its NCAA Tournament opener before losing 65-48 to Richmond in the Round of 32. NEGATIVE: Would he leave the security of his alma mater for a gamble at Tennessee?
SIX NAMES YOU MIGHT HEAR
- Mike Young, Wofford: His upstart team gave Brigham Young some anxious moments before bowing 74-66 in its NCAA Tournament opener to close a 21-13 season. Young's career record, however, is just 137-139.
- Jim Ferry, Long Island: His team averaged 82.7 points per game - ranking fourth nationally - and gave North Carolina a game before bowing 102-87 in its NCAA Tournament opener. LIU finished 27-6 but Ferry's career record is an unimpressive 125-140.
- Greg Lansing, Indiana State: He guided the unheralded Sycamores to a 20-14 season that ended with a 77-60 loss to Syracuse in their NCAA Tournament opener. He has just one year's experience as a head coach, however.
- Stew Morrill, Utah State: He just led the 2010-11 Aggies to a 30-4 season that ended with a 73-68 loss to Kansas State in their NCAA Tournament opener. His 324-103 record at USU includes a stunning NCAA Tournament upset of Ohio State in 2001. Morrill has a 542-241 career mark but he's 58 years old.
- Jim Larranaga, George Mason: He guided his underdog team to the Final Four in the 2006 NCAA Tournament and to a 61-57 upset of Villanova in the 2011 Tournament before getting hammered by Ohio State in the Round of 32. Larranaga's career record is 455-333 but he's 61 years old.
- John Dunne, St. Peters: Only 40, he has recruiting connections in New York and guided his squad to a 20-13 season and NCAA Tournament bid. The Cinderella tale ended with a lopsided 75-43 loss to Purdue, however.
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