Who will Indiana target for their head-coaching vacancy after firing Archie Miller? Here are the top six potential candidates.
Indiana basketball officially parted ways with head coach Archie Miller on Monday, a move I had reported was coming if the Hoosiers continued their struggles into the Big Ten Tournament. Indiana closed the season on a six-game losing streak to finish 12-15 on the year.
Miller appeared to be a slam dunk hire by Indiana four years ago, but he was never able to gain any traction in Bloomington. Indiana never made the NCAA Tournament under his guidance — the Hoosiers were projected to appear in the 2020 field — and never finished over .500 in Big Ten play.
So, now that Miller is gone, where will Indiana turn? The Hoosiers had to pay his $10 million buyout, and the thinking around the program was they wouldn’t do that without a big name lined up or knowing that a big name would be interested. As such, here’s a list of the six potential leading candidates for the Indiana job:
6) Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics head coach
Would Brad Stevens leave the Celtics for the Indiana job? No, I absolutely do not think so despite what every Hoosier fan hopes and dreams.
I get the allure for Indiana fans and he should be their top target. Stevens is from Indiana, had phenomenal success coaching at Butler, and has become one of the very best basketball coaches in the entire world. If he’s interested, the school will give him whatever he wants in order to hire him, which they should.
I don’t think the interest will be reciprocated, though, Stevens is firmly entrenched in the NBA and the Celtics front office loves him. They are not firing him after making the conference finals three times in four seasons.
So, Stevens is worthy of a mention because it’s his job if he wants it. I just don’t know if he does.
5) John Beilein, former Michigan/Cleveland Cavaliers head coach
Beilein has been and will continue to be linked to every major job opening this offseason, and the Indiana job is no different. He is a proven winner in the Big Ten with strong ties to the conference and comes with a squeaky-clean reputation, making him an obvious choice if he’s interested — especially considering he’s available.
That said, Beilein is 68 years old. Does he want to get back into coaching? And, if he does, is he interested in one that involves as much pressure as the Indiana job?
It is hard to imagine Beilein jumping back into the Big Ten, but this is another case where Indiana is going to at least call to see if he’s interested. If he is, Beilein automatically shoots up near the top of this list. But, like with Stevens, I’m not so sure. If Beilein does return to coaching, I think it would be for a much less stressful job.
4) Porter Moser, Loyola-Chicago head coach
Indiana may not want to return to the same well that brought them Archie Miller, but Moser has a lot of things going for him that made Miller so appealing to the Hoosiers. He has had a ton of sustained success at a mid-major program in the region and is one of the most well-respected coaches in the country. Moser has led Loyola-Chicago to a Final Four and, this year, has them in the top 10 in both KenPom and NET rankings.
This season has also shown the ceiling of the Loyola-Chicago job. Despite those lofty rankings and past tournament success, the Ramblers were slotted with a No. 8 seed on Selection Sunday.
If Moser is looking to move up the ranks, this could be the ideal situation. Indiana is still one of the sport’s premier jobs and, in theory, he’d be able to keep his recruiting ties in the area and parlay those into more success with more resources. However, he’s a little further down this list behind coaches with bigger names that have already had success at power conference schools.
3) Nate Oats, Alabama head coach
This slot represents a step up in the search where the candidates become a little more serious and are considered frontrunners for the job.
I know Nate Oats has only been at Alabama for two seasons, but he has already turned them from SEC afterthought to conference champions, winning both the regular season and tournament titles this season. His coaching style is perfectly suited for today’s game and would bring an exciting brand of basketball to Bloomington, giving the program a much-needed infusion of energy and optimism.
Perhaps most importantly, Oats has proven he can recruit at an elite level and do so at the national level. Indiana needs an infusion of talent, and Oats has shown the ability to get that at a football school. Projecting out, he might be able to do even more with Indiana’s resources.
That said, Alabama is going to do everything they can to keep their man, and Oats is still building his program in Tuscaloosa. Would he want to jump ship this quickly with how well things are going?
2) Chris Beard, Texas Tech head coach
Beard went to school in Texas, has coached mostly in Texas, and has turned Texas Tech into one of the Big 12 premier basketball programs. Why would he want to leave?
Well, there a few reasons. Beard is one of the top young coaches in the sport and Indiana is prepared to throw a lot of money at whoever they hire. It’ll have to be a lot (Beard currently makes $4.5 million a season), but Indiana can make that happen.
Beard is also ambitious and has been a bit of a job-hopper before landing the Texas Tech job as he climbed up the coaching ladder. He spent one year at McMurry in the NCCAA before leaving and spending two seasons at Division II’s Angelo State. That was followed by a year at Little Rock and then roughly three weeks at UNLV before taking a power conference job at Texas Tech.
Indiana is one of the jobs at the very top of the college basketball coaching ladder, which is appealing in its own right. And, as a disciple of Bob Knight, who he served as an assistant under for a decade at Texas Tech, there is a tie to the program that wouldn’t otherwise be there.
Is all that enough to convince Beard to leave Lubbock? If so, this would be a slam dunk for the Hoosiers.
1) Scott Drew, Baylor head coach
This is the best non-Brad Stevens scenario for Indiana. Drew had built Baylor from absolutely nothing into a perennial title contender and has done it every way possible. He’s brought in excellent recruiting classes, he’s great a developing talent, he has identified impact transfers, and has won with both big lineups and small lineups.
Plus, he’s part of one of Indiana’s most famous basketball families! He was a coach in the state for 12 seasons before taking the Baylor job, so he’s more than familiar with the landscape and the expectations.
The biggest hurdle here is getting him to leave Baylor, a program he has built and a place he has coached at for 18 seasons. It’s hard to get a coach to leave a situation where he might get a statue or the court named after him if he stays. That’s how good he has been at Baylor and is one of the reasons why Indiana wants him.
Drew has turned down these kinds of jobs before. Can Indiana make their offer worth it?