Since we are all grossly entrenched in who Wake Forest will hire as its next head basketball coach, it is probably as good a time as any to have a recap for those who can't be on Twitter or the boards all the time. These articles will recap tweets, posts and general observations about the Wake Forest job, as well as any job that could influence it (particularly Marquette, South Florida, and to a lesser extent Washington State).
Today was a very busy day for a few schools that have openings, particularly Marquette. Early in the day, Jeff Goodman released the following tweet about Marquette and Wake Forest pertaining to Shaka Smart:
Shaka Smart has been hot target for last few years. Latest to come calling? Marquette and Wake, sources told ESPN: http://t.co/Mz52qTp7AS— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
At face value this leads us to believe that Wake Forest and Marquette view Shaka Smart as the leading candidate, despite this tweet from Jeff Goodman earlier in the day:
Marquette has reached out to several coaches to gauge interest, one of which is ex-UCLA coach Ben Howland: http://t.co/j43hv5qYa1— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
Potentially for Marquette, the Shaka Smart interest could be baiting Ben Howland to make a decision sooner or later. Of course it could be the other way around too.
Things progressively got more interesting/strange for Marquette, when rumors of a 5 CST press conference was floated in the media, first by Jerry Meyer, who does a great job of covering basketball at 247sports:
Hearing from multiple sources that Shaka Smart to Marquette is after all very likely to happen and happen soon.— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) March 24, 2014
While the press conference as of the release of this article has not occurred yet, Meyer stands by his word about Smart to Marquette:
@MKEWalnut Sticking to what my sources told me. Deal could fall through. Never said anything was official. I've never predicted outcome.— Jerry Meyer (@jerrymeyer247) March 24, 2014
A little bit confusing overall, but a good lesson as to why it is better to be 100% and a little bit late, instead of the first to report and not correct.
Here is the most recent update from Jeff Goodman:
Here's the update on Shaka Smart and Marquette for all those asking. Nothing done, nothing imminent - per multiple sources.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) March 24, 2014
Goodman is the guy to watch in this whole scene---he is the most tuned in to almost every opening, and broke the news of Bzdelik to Wake. If he says nothing is imminent then I take that as very good news for Wake's hopes.
Meanwhile, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports reported that Chris Mack is a "legitimate candidate" for the Wake Forest head coaching job:
Xavier coach Chris Mack has emerged as a legitimate target to replace Jeff Bzdelik at Wake Forest, sources told @CBSSports. Story coming ...— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) March 24, 2014
This is an interesting name to emerge, as Chris Mack was an assistant Wake Forest under Skip Prosser, and as Robert Reinhard wrote for us earlier today, is currently the head coach at Xavier. He has a career record of 111-57, with two Sweet Sixteen appearances.
Former Blogger So Dear managing editor (and founder) Martin Rickman had some interesting thoughts on what all of this means:
leaking mack is great 1) seems like big east is crumbling 2) puts pressure on shaka 3) gets mack paid either way 4) worst case is safe hire— martin rickman (@martinrickman) March 24, 2014
That's an interesting theory that Wake Forest could have leaked the Chris Mack name for the same reasons that Marquette may have either leaked Howland early (to get Shaka), or possibly vice versa (to put pressure on Howland to commit sooner than later). Either way, there has possibly been some great back and forth grandstanding by the Marquette and Wake Forest athletic departments.
Shaka Smart to Marquette doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Other than the money that Marquette could offer (2.5-3.5 million), I don't think he necessarily wants to go to a conference headed on the downturn, especially when he could get a very high profile job in one of the best conferences (not necessarily Wake Forest, but eventually Duke, UNC, UK, Kansas, etc...).
There was also this tweet by The Sporting News' Michael DeCourcy that should stimulate some good debate on here (it certainly has on Twitter):
Of course Chris Mack is a target for Wake. But would he be interested? Has a better job.— Michael DeCourcy (@tsnmike) March 24, 2014
I actually agree with DeCourcy to an extent; Xavier has certainly been the better job recently, but I would be hard pressed to think that being in the Big East is a better job moving forward as opposed to being in the ACC.
On the Ben Howland front, beat writer for the Pittsburgh Panthers had this to say:
I've heard Ben Howland prefers the Wake Forest job to Marquette. We will see.— Matthew Steinbrink (@MattSteinbrink) March 24, 2014
Earlier today, Dayton announced that Archie Miller had agreed to an extension through 2019 to remain the head coach (thanks to Andy Katz):
Dayton announced it has extended Archie Miller’s contract through 2018-19 season.Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) March 24, 2014
This would lead most to believe that Miller is now off the table, but it should be pointed out that it was agreed to in November and was not announced until today.
In a quick glance at the South Florida job, Steve Masiello will reportedly be in Tampa for an interview shortly. The former Manhattan coach off of Rick Pitino's tree is one of the young coaching stars in the NCAA today:
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello expected to meet this week with USF officials, source confirms to @SNYtv— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 24, 2014
I am a pretty big fan of Masiello, but he is definitely a Plan B hire at this point. I think he would be a good land down in South Florida.
Basically, we are no closer to knowing anything today than we were yesterday. The fact that not a lot has leaked out from the Wake Forest camp is consistent with how Ron Wellman likes to conduct these types of situations, sans the last basketball coaching hire. When Jeff Bzdelik was hired, it was a mere two days after it was announced that Dino Gaudio would not return.
To me this indicates that the administration is doing its due diligence in calling the big time names (or at least getting feelers out there), and figuring out who are legitimate candidates.
I tend to agree with Martin that the Chris Mack name seems to be floated out there from somebody in the Wake Forest camp. If so, that essentially establishes him as a "floor" in my opinion, which is a very, very good floor. In fact, I think a guy like Mack would be a reasonable hire should Smart not come to Wake. He is a great recruiter, knows the area and knows the ACC. Plus, with his ties into the administration and boosters already, that would be a seamless transition.
While I am not exactly thrilled with the idea of another coach from the Prosser Tree (nothing wrong with it, just want to get a fresh start), to me, I would prefer Mack over Howland.
If I had to guess I would say that Wake Forest will have a coach by this time on Friday. While that seems not too long away, that is plenty of time to see where everybody is and really target in on the big dogs.
Tomorrow may very well be "moving day" in terms of positioning, and we should know a lot more about the entire situation after work tomorrow.