Eli Boettger | @boettger_eli | 02/17/2020
Basketball fans hoping for an All-Star Sunday devoid of developing stories were alarmed with ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that John Beilein and the Cavaliers could be parting ways as early as this week.
Beilein’s 54-game NBA tenure hasn’t gone as planned: Cleveland owns an Eastern Conference-worst 14-40 record, he regrettably referred to his team during a January film session as “a bunch of thugs,” and the franchise hasn’t shown significant strides during a rebuilding season.
In what has been a frustrating few months as a pro coach coupled with his son Patrick resigning as Niagara’s head coach in October for “personal reasons,” it’s anyone’s guess as to where the eldest Beilein is headed (if he’s headed anywhere at all).
With the possibility of Beilein hitting the market, rumors are already beginning to swirl about the longtime college head coach.
Here are five potential college landing spots if Beilein departs from Cleveland.
This is the obvious No. 1 choice and the type of splash that the college basketball world would salivate over. Beilein already has a personal connection in Austin in Luke Yaklich — his former assistant at Michigan — who took over as the Longhorns’ associate head coach once Beilein bolted for the Cavs.
Meanwhile, the man running the show, Shaka Smart, is 85-77 since taking over the job in 2015 and will likely finish his fifth season with two first-round exits and three missed NCAA Tournaments to his name. Smart’s contract that runs through 2023 is his saving grace at this point, as the former VCU coach possesses an enormous $13 million buyout.
How much longer will Danny Manning hang around with the Demon Deacons? Manning is more than 30 games below .500 since taking over the post and Wake Forest’s best season under Manning resulted in a First Four loss in 2017. Much like Smart at Texas, Manning’s eye-popping buyout of around $15 million is keeping things to a simmer.
It wouldn’t be the first time Beilein’s name would be tied with Wake Forest. Then-Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman reportedly interviewed John Beilein (then at Richmond) in 2001 about the coaching vacancy. When asked a few years later about his interest in the position after Skip Prosser accepted the job, Beilein said, “It was a possibility, yes. I think it was pretty close.”
With the Cardinal losing seven of its last eight and Stanford’s 11th NCAA Tournament miss in 12 years becoming more and more likely, one has to wonder just how much time is left for Jerod Haase. The former UAB coach has lost fewer than 13 games just once in his head coaching career spanning seven years and change.
This might not make a ton of geographical sense for a 67-year-old with heavy New York roots, but there are worse gigs out there than coaching intelligent kids in the Silicon Valley.
It’s hard to believe that Boston College had a run of seven tournament bids in nine years as recent as 2009. Since then, the Eagles have recorded just one winning season in the ACC. Jim Christian has had some nice players on campus during his time and was even awarded an extension in 2018, but BC is 75-113 under his lead.
Is the current state of Boston College basketball too unattractive for a coach that went to two national title games in a six-year span and then landed an NBA job? It’s possible.
What was once starting to look like a turning of the page for the Blue Demons, Dave Leitao’s team has gone from a 12-1 start with wins over Iowa, Texas Tech, Minnesota and Northwestern to completely crashing and burning in a 1-11 stretch since.
Maybe the former outweighs the latter, and that would be understandable. The fact of the matter here, though, is that Leitao holds a 17-67 Big East record since returning to DePaul in 2015. Additionally, the program was placed under three years of probation last July over failure to promote “an atmosphere of compliance.”