John Beilein's Top Potential Landing Spots After Parting Ways with Cavaliers

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorFebruary 19, 2020

CLEVELAND, OHIO - FEBRUARY 12: Head coach John Beilein of the Cleveland Cavaliers yells to his players during the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on February 12, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 129-105. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

John Beilein's 54-game tenure as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach is over after he and the Cavs parted ways during the All-Star break, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski on Tuesday.  

The 14-40 Cavs sport the Eastern Conference's worst win-loss record and second-worst mark overall. Associate head coach J.B. Bickerstaff will take over.

Beilein, 67, joined the Cavs on a five-year deal after a stellar 37-season collegiate career in which he sported a 571-325 record (0.637).

Beilein is most known for his work with the Michigan Wolverines, who he led from 2007-19. Michigan made the tournament in nine of his 12 seasons, advancing to the national championship twice and the Elite Eight three times. The Wolverines also won the Big Ten conference tournament twice.

Beilein won 30 or more games three times with Michigan and had little to prove by the end of his Wolverines tenure. He signed a five-year deal with the Cavs in May.

The tenure ultimately faltered on and off the court, with Wojnarowski explaining the reasoning:

"Beilein struggled to connect with NBA players and was never able to implement his collegiate offense into the pro game. He befell the plight of some previous coaches who made the leap to the NBA: players quickly tuning him out with his penchant for screaming, and players believing that Beilein was treating them as young college players, not as professionals.

"Beilein struggled with the stress of losing games and the lack of control he felt within the locker room. The organization largely wanted him to just concentrate on developing the young talent on the roster."

Beilein also apologized to his team after saying they were "no longer playing as a bunch of thugs" in a January meeting.

Wojnarowski also noted the toll it took on Beilein:

"Friends and associates of Beilein have described him as unhappy—even miserable—with the move to the Cavaliers," Wojnarowski wrote. "The losing that comes with a rebuild, as well as several skirmishes in public and private with players, has played a part in the rapid deterioration of tenure, sources said."

Beilein's Cavs career is over, and it's hard to see him looking for another NBA job in any capacity given how this gig ended.

A return to college would make the most sense, and here's a look at a few potential landing spots.


Athletic Department Route

Michigan legend and former NBA star Juwan Howard took over the Wolverines' program after Beilein left, and the team is doing well considering the coaching change and the losses of NCAA tournament stars Jordan Poole and Ignas Brazdeikis to the NBA.

Right now, the Wolverines are 16-9 overall, 7-7 in Big Ten play and slated as a No. 7 seed in Joe Lunardi of ESPN's latest bracket prediction.

Howard, who signed a five-year contract, isn't going anywhere any time soon.

But Scott Bell of the Dallas Morning News threw out the idea of Beilein returning to Michigan as a member of the athletic department:

Beilein enjoyed more success with Michigan than he did in any of his other coaching stops, but the question is where he could possibly fit. Michael Spath of Sports Illustrated's WolverineDigest spoke with multiple athletic department officials, one of whom told him the following: 

"This isn't a sour grapes thing, it's a reality thing - where would we stash him? Everyone from the top on down is really happy with Juwan Howard and his staff, and the direction this program is moving.

"John is beloved here by so many, and even though he left in a way that came as a little bit of a surprise, there is no grudge, no hard feelings. He's welcome back here anytime he wants, just not in an official capacity. Not right now. 

"Could it happen someday? Maybe, but in a coaching capacity? Not unless Juwan hires him to be an assistant coach. This is Juwan's program now. He has complete confidence from our administration and we're all very excited about the program's future."

Given those comments, a coaching role would seem more likely.


Coaching Route

Two Division I spots are currently held by interim coaches after head coaches left midseason: Central Arkansas and UNC-Wilmington.

With all due respect to those schools, it makes more sense for Beilein to search for a Power Six conference gig (and the seven-figure salary that goes with it) after finding success at Michigan and West Virginia.

Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated discussed a few teams that could be looking for head coaches next year, with the caveat that some schools were more likely to have openings than others. He mentioned Indiana and Northwestern but also wrote that there is "no indication that either athletic director is interested in" firing head coaches Archie Miller and Chris Collins, respectively.

He also noted a few schools that have been hit by NCAA notices of allegations in response to the FBI's and NCAA's ongoing investigations into corruption in Division I men's hoops, with Kansas, Auburn, LSU and Arizona mentioned.

However, Forde noted that KU is staunchly defending head coach Bill Self and that the case may not be resolved until 2021. Beilein could certainly find a gig before then in time for the 2020-21 season.

In the ACC, Wake Forest, Boston College and Georgia Tech were mentioned as possibilities given those schools' difficulties making the NCAA tournament. Forde also discussed Vanderbilt, which is 1-11 in the SEC during Jerry Stackhouse's first year running the program.

However, Forde wrote that Texas is "the most likely Power-6 job to come open, and the most attractive." 

Head coach Shaka Smart did a phenomenal job at VCU and led the Rams to a 2011 Final Four appearance, but success has been hard to come by at Texas, where he's on track to miss the tournament for the third time in five years. The Longhorns have lost their last four games to fall to 14-11 overall and 4-8 in the Big 12, seventh in the league.

Smart would have another job in a split second if Texas decides to go a different route. But if it does, Beilein might be the top coaching free agent. 

As Forde noted, "The Beilein market figures to be hot this spring."

If that's the case, Texas has a leg up on the competition considering its deep pockets. The school took in a Division I-high $219 million-plus in the fiscal 2018 year and profited over $12.5 million, per Steve Berkowitz of USA Today. 

Beilein has made four Division I stops: Canisius, Richmond, West Virginia and Michigan. He also led Erie (junior college), Nazareth (Division III) and Le Moyne (Division II).


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