Perhaps you have questions about Georgia Tech’s coaching vacancy. You’re not alone. I do, too. The man who could answer them all — athletic director Dan Radakovich — isn’t talking, but in his stead I’ll offer what I know and what I’ve been given reason to believe. And, as a bonus, even a wild guess.
What’s taking so long?
Paul Hewitt was fired nearly two weeks ago. If Tech hasn’t interviewed anyone — and as of Wednesday morning, it hadn’t — it hasn’t been to heighten the drama. Most of the coaches in whom Tech has interest have teams still playing, which would only make sense. Wouldn’t want to hire someone whose team didn’t reach the postseason, would you?
When will interviews begin?
As soon as those coaches’ teams lose.
Does Tech have a short list? Is there a leading candidate?
Yes to the first. And if there’s a leading candidate, he hasn’t been identified by any outsider in position to know. Though it seems fair to guess that Chris Mooney of Richmond and Gregg Marshall of Wichita State — both of whose teams were still alive as of Wednesday – are obvious top-of-the-list possibilities, with Tommy Amaker of Harvard, Shaka Smart of VCU and Chris Mack of Xavier mixed in.
Why didn’t you include Brad Stevens of Butler?
He could have his pick of almost any job almost any year. There’s no guarantee he’ll ever leave Butler, and if he does there’s no reason to think Tech will be the destination.
What about Mark Price? What about Craig Neal? What about Kenny Anderson?
Tech has to know those distinguished alums have expressed interest in the job, and there would seem no percentage in not making some sort of contact with each. That said, it’s difficult to conceive of a scenario in which Radakovich’s first look wouldn’t be at candidates who are head coaches.
Is money a factor for Tech?
It is. Hewitt made $1.3 million; in hiring his successor, the Institute can’t go much above that. (Anthony Grant, by way of contrast, is making $1.8 million at Alabama. The big football schools can also afford to spend on basketball.) A key reason to focus on mid-major coaches is that they’re more apt to fall in Tech’s price range.
Will the searches of North Carolina State/Oklahoma/Missouri/Tennessee squeeze Tech?
All four will aim higher than a mid-major coach. (As did Arkansas, which just lured Mike Anderson from Missouri.) Rumored targets at N.C. State include Pitt’s Jamie Dixon and Arizona’s Sean Miller; Buzz Williams of Marquette is thought to be on Oklahoma’s list. Tennessee is looking to make a splash in finding Bruce Pearl’s replacement — AD Mike Hamilton has his own job to save — but might not be as attractive as Tech. The Vols, as you’ve heard, have NCAA issues.
Some have questioned whether Tech is a good job. Is there reason to believe no worthwhile candidate will say yes?
It’s in the ACC. It’s in the capital of a state that produces a ton of basketball talent. It can pay more than a million dollars a year, and in 2012 it will open a refurbished arena. More than a few accomplished mid-major coaches would take a charge from Shaquille O’Neal for the chance to work here.
Does Radakovich know what he’s doing?
Let’s recall his admission that he’d reached the decision to fire Hewitt three weeks before doing it. Does anyone think those three weeks were spent not mulling replacements? Let’s note that Radakovich made the considered decision not to employ Parker Executive Search, the Atlanta-based firm that does almost everyone’s coach-hunting now (including N.C. State’s and Georgia State’s), but to seek the counsel of Eddie Fogler, a former coach and a basketball lifer. Let’s also note that D-Rad’s first big hire — Parker Search assisted in that process, FYI — was Paul Johnson, and two years later the Jackets were playing in the Orange Bowl.
Radakovich has said he wants a coach in place by the Final Four, which convenes April 1 in Houston. Why?
Three reasons. First, it has become difficult for a high-profile AD to interview coaches in a city overrun by coaches — their annual convention is held concurrent with the Final Four — and media. Second, the convention would give the new Tech coach a chance to hire his staff, should the need occur. Third, Tech would like to take advantage of that media glut to get a little buzz going regarding its new man.
When should we expect D-Rad to have his man?
By this time next week, give or take a day.
Last question: Who will it be?
Just guessing, I’d say Mooney or Marshall. Just guessing, you hear?
By Mark Bradley