College Basketball: 10 Coaches Who Could Be Up for Bigger Jobs

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 19, 2012

College Basketball: 10 Coaches Who Could Be Up for Bigger Jobs

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    The college basketball coaching carousel will be getting cranked up soon.

    A long list of coaches will be fired, and those schools will be looking for the best possible candidates to fill those positions.

    Usually, the coaches whose teams do great this season are the ones who will be pursued by the schools that are looking to fill vacancies and upgrade their programs.

    Here is a quick look at 10 hot coaches who could be on the short list for a number of Division 1 coaching jobs.

10. Steve Prohm (Murray State)

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    Steve Prohm is in his first year as a Division 1 head coach.

    He is having one of the best first year's of any college coach.

    The Murray State Racers were the last undefeated team in the 2011-12 season.

    They are currently 26-1 and ranked No. 14.

    Before this year, Prohm was an assistant at Centennary, Southeast Louisiana, Tulane and Murray State.

    After serving as Billy Kennedy's lead assistant at MSU for five years, Prohm was promoted.

    His lack of head coaching experience might knock him out of most of the upper-level positions, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Prohm is being considered at a Missouri Valley/Conference USA-level job.

9. Dan Hurley (Wagner)

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    Dan Hurley has taken the Wagner Seahawks and turned them into a Northeast Conference contender in a hurry.

    Currently, they are 23-4 (14-2 Northeast Conference).

    Although Hurley is only in his second season as a Division 1 head coach,  he has extensive experience with his legendary father/Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley and as a college assistant.

    Like Prohm, Hurley may not get looked at for an upper-tier opening, but I will be surprised if he isn't considered for an Atlantic 10 or Colonial Athletic Association gig.

8. Larry Eustachy (Southern Mississippi)

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    Larry Eustachy was a top-level coach (at Iowa State) in a top-level conference (Big 12).

    But, through his own off-the-court foolishness, Eustachy squandered the great opportunity.

    After resigning in Ames, Eustachy spent a year out of coaching before landing in Hattiesburg, Miss., at Southern Mississippi, where he has been for the last eight years.

    In the last three seasons, the Golden Eagles are 64-29.

    This year, USM (22-5; 9-3 Conference USA) is in first place in league play.

    Depending on what comes open, watch for Eustachy's name to possibly come up for a Mountain West or Pac 12 position.

7. Scott Sutton (Oral Roberts)

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    Scott Sutton is another coach who has grown up in it.

    Sutton is the younger son of legendary coach, Eddie Sutton.

    He is in his 13th season at ORU and has put up a 248-159 record.

    This year, the Golden Eagles are 25-5 (16-1 in the Summit League).

    One reason that it might be a good time for Sutton to move on is that ORU is changing from the Summit League to the Southland Conference.

    Based on current Sagarin Ratings, this move will be a significant step down (Summit is No. 19 conference; Southland is No. 27).

    Depending on what comes open, Sutton could possibly be up for at least a Missouri Valley, Conference USA or Atlantic 10 post.

6. Steve Alford (New Mexico)

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    Steve Alford is in his 21st season as a head coach.

    He has posted an overall record of 428-226.

    Since Alford came to Albuquerque in 2007, New Mexico has gone 120-43.

    Right now, the Lobos are in first place in the Mountain West after beating both San Diego State and UNLV.

    Would it surprise me to hear that Alford gets some Big Ten attention (if Bruce Weber is canned at Illinois)?

    I would not be surprised at all.

5. Randy Bennett (St. Mary's)

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    Randy Bennett is one of the top mid-major coaches in college basketball.

    Bennett is in his 11th year at St. Mary's, notching a 231-116 record.

    The Gaels are ranked No. 16 (in the Week 15 polls) with a 23-5 record and in first place in the West Coast Conference.

    Going into this season, Bennett's bunch was averaging 27 wins per season over the last four years.

    Most of Bennett's work as an assistant was also "Out West."

    So....maybe a Mountain West or Pac 12 situation?

4. Gregg Marshall (Wichita State)

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    Gregg Marshall is virtually a shoo-in to be stalked following the 2011-12 season.

    Marshall's Shockers are currently considered by many this year's top mid-major team.

    In fact, ESPN.com's Andy Katz says: "Forget the mid-major label -- there are few teams in the country, regardless of conference, playing as well as this team right now."

    WSU is 24-4 (14-2 in the MVC). Last year, the Marshall's maulers were the NIT Champs.

    Before coming to Wichita State, Marshall had success at Big South Conference member, Winthrop.

    In nine years, Marshall posted a 194-83 record.

    Look for Marshall to be up for an upper-tier (Big 12, Big East, SEC) opening.

3. Buzz Williams (Marquette)

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    Buzz Williams could very well be one of the lead candidates for the top head coaching openings this spring.

    Williams' Golden Eagles are ranked No. 13, 22-5 (11-3 Big East) and in second place in league play.

    His overall record at New Orleans and Marquette is 105-58.

    It's a little difficult to improve on your current gig if you are near the top of one of the best conferences in the nation.

    But, could Williams' salary be what leads him to consider looking around?

    He is currently No. 35 among D-1 head coaches.

    If a good Big Ten, Big 12 or SEC job is open, expect to see Williams mentioned on the short list.

2. Shaka Smart (Virginia Commonwealth)

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    Shaka Smart exploded onto the national college basketball scene last year, leading his Virginia Commonwealth Rams to the 2011 Final Four.

    And Smart's squad was not a one-hit wonder, because the Rams are 23-6 (13-3 CAA) this year.

    Smart signed an eight-year deal following VCU's run in last year's tournament worth reportedly $1.2 million per year.

    It would sound like that figure would take him off the market, but...I don't think so.

    If the right situation opens up, money will probably not be an issue.

1. Tommy Amaker (Harvard)

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    Tommy Amaker will be the most common candidate for any big-time coaching openings this spring.

    Amaker had solid head coaching runs at Seton Hall and Michigan before coming to Harvard.

    And the Crimson have now won at least 20 games for the third straight season...Unheard of success around Cambridge.

    He led last year's team to a share of the Ivy League championship.

    This was the school's first men's basketball title since the league was formed for the 1956-57 season.

    After last season, the Friends of Harvard Basketball, the alumni booster organization, worked overtime to keep Amaker from leaving.

    Is it possible that he will wait until Coach K rides off into the sunset? Are there other places that would peak his curiosity?

    I don't know, and I don't know.

    But, there will be a small handful of athletic directors who will call him and find out.