Candidates aplenty for Bama Basketball job

Gary LloydSenior Analyst IJanuary 26, 2009

Monday afternoon, in a meeting with athletics director Mal Moore, Mark Gottfried agreed to step down as the Alabama head coach. He compiled a 210-131 record in his near 11 years at the Tide’s helm.

Now, the attention shifts to the coaching search. It’s still really early to tell who’s a serious candidate and who isn’t, but the names should pour in in the coming months. These are my top candidates for the job, rated from most likely to least likely to get the job. Note that I excluded Mark Few, Gonzaga’s coach, simply because I don’t foresee him leaving Spokane, Wash., though you may disagree.

1. Anthony Grant, Virginia Commonwealth: Grant has been a hot name the last couple years, especially after almost taking over the Florida Gators when current head coach Billy Donovan agreed to be the coach for the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He’s a high-energy guy who deserves a shot at a big-time program. If Alabama doesn’t get him now, they won’t get another chance at this hot commodity. Hiring a black coach would help the school’s image, too.  

2. Mike Anderson, Missouri: I think Anderson will be intrigued by this job, despite having a gig at a BCS program. He did big things as the Alabama-Birmingham coach prior to getting the Missouri job, and lots of basketball fans in this state like him. His frenetic, “40 minutes of hell” style is something Alabama fans desperately want to see.

3. Sean Miller, Xavier: Miller has a good thing going at Xavier right now, but maybe he’d take a look at a bigger job. His name is thrown around a lot these days, but the buyout on his contract could be pricey. Miller is signed through the 2017-2018 season to coach the Musketeers. 

4. Scott Sutton, Oral Roberts: Sutton is a young coach who hasn’t gotten a shot at a big-time job. He’s been at Oral Roberts since 1999, and has had his team in the NCAA tournament the last three seasons, averaging just over 22 wins in that time.

5. Mike Davis, UAB: Davis played at Alabama and came back to assist David Hobbs from 1995-1997. He took Indiana to the National Championship in 2002, losing to Maryland in the ultimate game. From what I’ve gathered, Davis isn’t a flashy coach but relates well with his players.

6. Brad Stevens, Butler: A hot name, but not a lot of experience for Stevens. He’s a mere 32 years old, and is in only his second season as Butler head coach. His name will surely be out there, but I don’t think he’ll make the jump to a major program just yet.

7. Tubby Smith, Minnesota: Fans around Tuscaloosa are screaming this name on local radio shows and whatnot. His resume is sensational, despite the pressure to resign after his 2006-07 Kentucky team compiled a 22-12 record and making it to the NCAA tournament’s second round. It would be a great hire, but can Alabama lure Smith from Minnesota, a school he is just now turning around?

8. T.R. Dunn, Houston Rockets assistant: Dunn has been an assistant coach for three NBA teams, and his ties to Alabama make him a viable candidate. Dunn may have a nice pitch to recruits, having coached for years in the NBA.

9. Tony Bennett, Washington State: Bennett is the only coach in WSU history to take the Cougars to back-to-back NCAA tournaments. This year has been somewhat of a struggle for Bennett, though his name still floats around. The transition to the SEC may be tough, especially since most people in the South don’t know much about Bennett. His style of play is methodical, so fans might object given the aforementioned names.

10. Roy Rogers, New Jersey Nets assistant: Like Dunn, Rogers is a former Alabama star that now assists on an NBA team. This is a reach, but if it’s one of those “keep it in the family” hires, his name will be brought up. This is, I think, the unlikeliest of the previous nine, but his name belongs nonetheless.

Other coaches that may have a shot at the job

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State

Steve Alford, New Mexico

Mark Fox, Nevada