Chris Mack's Rejection Leaves Tennessee Aiming Lower to Replace Pearl

Michael BaggettCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2011

Xavier's Chris Mack is the first published rejection for the Tennessee men's basketball coaching job.
Xavier's Chris Mack is the first published rejection for the Tennessee men's basketball coaching job.Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Just a few days after the University of Tennessee released a wish-list with Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon and Villanova’s Jay Wright at the top for their head coaching position, Xavier University’s Chris Mack has rejected a 8-year contract worth $2 million a year.’s Gary Parrish reports Mack was offered $2 million a year for the extent of the contract. 

Now, UT has moved on to “secondary candidates,” according to the story. 

Kind of funny considering Mack wasn’t even on the short list of candidates released by a source within the athletic department late last week. 

Mack’s rejection indicates UT will have to aim much lower than they originally anticipated to get their new coach.

While Mack has proven to be an exceptional coaching talent, his lack of experience (only two years at Xavier), means UT may have to start looking at assistant coaches at big-time schools as their replacement. 

However, there is a chance the Vols can still get one of the hot coaches available, although money may be one of the only motivating factors. So here is my list of best coaches available for UT:

1. Shaka Smart (VCU): Only 33-years-old he has worked himself into a hot commodity with three NCAA tournament wins this year. Serving as assistant to both Oliver Purnell (Clemson) and Billy Donovan (Florida), Smart knows the rigors of running a BCS college basketball program. Smart looks to be a players’ coach, something that will be key if he is to keep a roster with potential holdovers such as Scotty Hopson and Tobias Harris. Smart’s pressure style play on both ends of the floor is similar to Pearl’s early UT teams and will excite the fan base. While his work as a recruiter is somewhat unknown to this point, you can’t argue with his success in two years at VCU: Two years and a Elite Eight appearance going into Sunday. Smart’s stock is high right now and the best fit for him may be Missouri.

2. Tubby Smith (Minnesota): This is the safe pick. Smith would not only recruit Georgia well (something UT relishes), but a job at UT would give him a chance to stick it to rival Kentucky, a school that forced him out four years ago. Smith wins wherever he goes so that’s not the question. The question is whether the school wants someone more “old school.”  If looking to “restore integrity” there would be nobody better for the job than Smith.

3) Buzz Williams (Marquette): Williams isn’t your typical slick willy looking college basketball coach, but looks are deceiving in this case. Williams was a master recruiter while working as a assistant under Tom Crean, then proved his coaching meddle with success in the Big East and this year’s NCAA Tournament. His teams work hard and his system may be a good change of pace for the holdover players. Sources link Williams closer to his home with the Oklahoma job, so UT would have to lure him with more money.