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Potential Men's Basketball Coaching Candidates

March 12, 2023
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With the historically unsuccessful Mark Fox era over at Cal, let's take a look at some potential replacement candidates in this critical juncture of Cal basketball.

But before we begin, the profound level of futility of not just the Mark Fox era but also the preceding two years of comparable lack of success from Wyking Jones needs to be examined to understand just how big a hole AD Jim Knowlton and the athletic department needs to figure out a way to dig itself out of.

Following the relatively successful 3-year tenure of Cuonzo Martin, who went 62-39 overall and

Former Cal HC Cuonzo Martin

29-25 in conference before departing to Missouri with a substantial raise that more than doubled his Cal contract, prior AD Mike WIlliams made a critical error in hiring Martin assistant Wyking Jones, who had no head coaching experience. The results were even worse than the gloomiest of sceptics could have imagined, with a pair of last-place finishes and an overall record of 16-47 overall and just 5-31 in conference.

Veteran coach Mark Fox, who had had a modest level of success took over and fared little better in his 4-year tenure at Cal, going just 38-67 overall and 17-61 in conference.

Fortunately in this day of portal transfers and NIL, if a program like Cal that has something

Former Cal HC Mark Fox

beyond futility to offer under the right leadership and framework, including a robust NIL program, the right coach and a few key transfer additions can dramatically change the fortunes of a program without having to suffer through a painfully slow rebuild project.

There are some non-negotiable traits this go-round that are crucial to picking the right person to lead what is not a particularly easy turnaround of a Cal program that’s been down six years now: A strong recruiter, a dynamic personality, high character, problem solver vs. a complainer, an inclusive approach (former players, donors, press, fans input considered), a proven head coach and teacher, a builder/change agent type and energetic.

With that in mind, here are some candidates that Cal can, will or possibly should consider:

Potential primary candidates:

Joe Pasternak UCSB head coach, age 41

Pasternack currently holds a record of 132–52 (.713) and 70–30 (.700) in Big West conference play in six seasons in Santa Barbara. The Gauchos tied for 1st in conference this season with a 15-5 record and 27-7 overall, also winning the Big West conference tourney. The Gauchos earned a 14th seed in the NCAA tournament, facing No. 3 seed Baylor in the first round of the South Region on Friday He has experience as an assistant at Cal and Arizona, where he was their lead recruiter, which could be viewed as a strong positive with the elite players he helped bring in

UCSB HC Joe Pasternack

or potentially a negative if he was personally involved in any of their recruiting violations when he was on staff under Sean Miller. He also helped engineer a turnaround at his first head coaching job at New Orleans so he also has experience digging out of holes. UCSB had also gone 25-36 in the two seasons prior to Pasternack’s arrival. He has strong west coast ties and is known as a strong recruiter.

Darian DeVries Drake head coach, age 47

DeVries currently holds a record of 122–47 (.722) and 63–29 (.685) in Missouri Valley conference play in 5 seasons at Drake.  Drake is currently 27-7 and finished 2nd in conference with a 15-5 record. Drake earned the No. 12 seed in the Midwest Region and will face No. 5 Miami in Albany, NY. DeVries was twice voted conference Coach of the Year and

Drake HC Darian DeVries

has a 1-1 record in NCAA tourney play. Prior to his arrival, Drake went just 23-40 before he engineered a quick turnaround. Combined with his time as an assistant at Creighton, he has a reputation as a strong recruiter and as a dynamic young coach who comes from a good coaching tree, though he does not appear to have particularly strong west coast ties.

Leon Rice, Boise State head coach, age 59

Rice currently holds a record of 267–153 (.636) and 141–88 (.616) in conference play at BSU. They went 13-5 in Mountain

Boise State HC Leon Rice

West play this season,  and 23-8 overall. Rice was twice named conference Coach of the Year and won two regular season conference and one conference tournament championship in his 14 seasons at BSU. He has significant coaching experience also serving as an assistant at Oregon and Gonzaga, though his age might be a bit less attractive.

Brian Dutcher, San Diego State head coach, age 63

Dutcher currently holds a record of 144–46 (.757) overall and 81–25 (.764) in conference play as head coach at SDSU. SDSU

Boise State HC Brian Dutcher

went 15-3 this season, winning the Mountain West conference title and Mountain West conference tourney. SDSU earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament, facing 12th-seeded College of Charleston. Dutcher was a longtime assistant head coach for 9 years at Michigan and 18 years at SDSU under highly-successful head coach Brian Fisher. He’s won 3 conference championships and 2 conference championship tournaments in his 5 seasons with the Aztecs. Dutcher has strong west coast ties and a good recruiting reputation though his age may be seen by some as a drawback.

Mark Pope, BYU head coach, age 50

Pope currently holds a record at BYU of  85–40 (.680) overall and 39–21 (.650) in conference in his 4 seasons at BYU. They went 7-9 in conference this season and 17-15 overall, tying for fifth in the West Coast Conference. The Cougars went to the NCAA tourney in 2020-21 after finishing 20-7

BYU HC Mark Pope

and 10-3, 2nd in conference and to the NIT quarterfinals the next season. Dutcher also was an assistant at Wake Forest and Georgia as well as a player for 6 years in the NBA with Denver, Milwaukee and Indiana. He played for Washington and was the captain of Kentucky’s national championship team in 1996.

Next let’s take a look at several potential targets who some might see as a higher risk/higher reward option for various reasons.

Ryan Odom, Utah State head coach, age 48

Odom holds a record at Utah State of 41–23 (.641)overall and 20–15 (.571) in conference play at Utah State in his two seasons there, currently 23-7 and 12-6 in Mountain West Conference play,

Montana State HC Ryan Odom
​​​​​

finishing 2nd behind San Diego State and tied with Boise State. Prior to Utah State, Odom turned around an awful UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) who had gone 11-51 in the 2 seasons prior to his arrival to a first-season 21-13 record and 97-60 in 5 seasons. He was also an assistant at Virginia Tech, South Florida, Furman, UNC-Ashville and Charlotte.

Danny Sprinkle, Montana State, age 45

Sprinkle holds a record of 81–42 (.659) 49–23 (.681) at Montana State in Big Sky play, going 25–9 overall and 15–3 in conference this season, finishing 2nd in the regular season and earning a second straight NCAA tourney appearance with a Big Sky conference tournament championship this season. The Bobcats will face No. Kansas State on Friday in the opening round of the tournament in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sprinkle was named the Big Sky Coach of the Year this season. He took over a program that went just 28-46 in the two seasons before he arrived so he’s no stranger to big turnarounds. He's recruited on the west coast as an assistant at Cal State Northridge and Fullerton State and played collegiately at Montana State in the 90s.

Todd Simon, Southern Utah head coach, age 42

Simon holds a record at Southern Utah of 117-105  overall and 65-54 in conference play at Southern Utah in his 2 seasons there. They finished 20-11 overall currently and 12-6 in WAC Conference play. His teams have finished 64-27 in the last 3 seasons. Interestingly, Simon was part of the founding staff of Findlay Prep in Las Vegas and coached former Cal star Jorge Gutierrez in high school. He was also an assistant head coach and interim head coach at UNLV.

Stan Johnson, Loyola Marymount head coach, age 43

Johnson holds a record at LMU of 43–39 (.524) overall and 19–24 (.442) in WCC conference play at

LMU HC Stan Johnson

LMU in his 3 seasons there. They finished this season at 19-12 overall and 9-7 in conference play this season, finishing 4th. Before LMU, Johnson was an assistant at Marquette, ASU, Drake and Utah. He took over a Lions program that went 31-33 prior to his arrival.

Shantay Legans, Portland head coach, age 41

Legans holds a record at Portand of 32–33 (.492) overall and 12–18 (.400) in WCC conference play in his 2 seasons there. They finished this season 13-18 overall and 5-11 in conference play, finishing 8th. He took over a program that had gone just 15-38 the 2 seasons before his arrival. Legans went 39-14 in his final two seasons at Eastern

Portland HC Shantay Leggans

Washington before taking the Portland job. Legans played point guard at Cal from 1999 to 2002 before transferring to Fresno State.

Tim Miles, San Jose State head coach, age 56

Miles holds a record of 27–35 (.435) overall and 11–25 (.306) at San Jose State in Mountain West play in his 2 seasons there. They finished this season 20-12 overall and 10-8 in MWC play after struggling his first season, taking over a Spartans program that

San Jose State HC Tim Miles

went just 20-93 in the 4 prior seasons. Prior to SJS, Miles went 116–114 (.504) in 7 seasons at Nebraska and 71-88 at Colorado State.

Grant McCasland, North Texas head coach, age 46

MacCasland holds a record of 129–65 (.663) overall at North Texas and 71–36 (.664) in Conference USA play in his 6 seasons with the Mean Green. They finished the regular season 26-7 overall and 16-4 in C-USA, finishing second. He took over a North Texas program that has gone just 20-42 prior to his arrival, engineering a nice turnaround. His coaching experience at Baylor gave him bigger recruiting exposure and MacCasland also played at Baylor in the 90s.

Rodney Terry, Texas interim head coach, age 54

Terry holds a record of 17-7 overall at Texas and 12-6 in Big-12 conference play since taking over as interim coach after previous head coach Chris Beard was suspended then fired by the

Texas interim HC Rodney Terry

Longhorns. After knocking off No. 1 seed Kansas in the conference tourney, the Longhorns earned the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region against No. 15 seed Colgate in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday. Terry got his head coaching start at Fresno State in 2011, taking a few years before turning around the program and winning 20+ games his last three seasons with the Bulldogs. He then took over at UTEP, going 37–48 (.435) overall and 19–33 (.365) in C-USA play in three seasons before moving over to Texas.

Mark Madsen, Utah Valley head coach, age 47

Madsen holds a record of 65–49 (.570) overall at Utah Valley and 38–25 (.528) in WAC conference play since taking over 4 years ago. Utah Valley went 23–7 overall and 14–3 in conference play, winning the WAC conference championship.

Utah Valley HC Mark Madsen.

The former Stanford power forward had a 9-year NBA career with the Timberwolves and Lakers and spent the preceding years as an assistant, most recently with the Lakers for 4 seasons before taking over at Utah Valley.

 

Amir Abdur-Rahim, Kennesaw State, age 43

Abdur-Rahim holds a record of 45–73 (.381) overall and 24–41 (.369) in ASUN conference, though after three tough seasons to start his coaching career taking over a program that had gone just 16-46 in the two prior seasons, the younger brother of former Cal star forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim had a breakthrough season this year, going 26–8 overall and 15–3 in conference, winning the conference this season and earning them a No. 14 seed in the Midwest bracket and will take on No. 3 seed Xavier Friday. Prior to his first head coaching job, Abdur-Rahim was an assistant at Georgia, Texas A&M and College of Charleston.

The next category of coaches are likely not available due to various reasons, including jobs that currently could be considered better opportunities, higher salaries that perhaps couldn’t be matched, buyouts that would be impossible to cover and other various factors.

Dennis Gates, Missouri head coach, age 43

Gates holds a record of 24–8 (.750) overall and 11–7 (.611) in SEC play in his first season after taking over for former Cal head coach Cuonzo Martin after the Tigers stagnated in his final

Missouri HC Dennis Gates

seasons there. The Tigers earned a 7th seed in the 2023 NCAA tourney where they’ll face 10th-seeded Utah State in the first round, playing as part of the South regional in Sacramento.  Gates got his start as a head coach at Cleveland State, going 50–40 (.556) overall and 38–21 (.644) in Horizon League play after taking over a program that had gone just 40-89 in the four seasons prior to his arrival. However Gates has a prohibitive buyout that would make it very difficult to afford him even if he wanted to come to Cal. Gates played for the Bears from 1998 to 2002 and was an assistant at Cal when he got his start in coaching as well as at Northern Illinois, Nevada and Florida State before taking over at Cleveland State.

Jamie Dixon, TCU head coach, age 53

Dixon holds a record of 138–95 (.592) overall and 51–73 (.411) in Big 12 play and 21-12 overall and 9-9 in Big 12 play this season, earning 6th seed in the 2023 NCAA tournament, facing the winner of the First Four matchup between Arizona State and Nevada. The winner of that matchup will be the 11th seed. Dixon guided the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tourney last season as well, reaching the round of 32. Dixon took over a TCU team that had gone 30-36 in the two seasons prior to taking over after posting an impressive 328–123 (.727) overall and 143–81 (.638) ACC record at Pitt before making the move to TCU. Dixon however was extended to 2028, making his buyout prohibitive.

Todd Golden, Florida head coach, age 37

Golden holds a record of 16–16 at Florida overall and 9–9 in SEC play since taking over the Gators program this season. He parlayed a record of 57–36 (.613) overall at USF and 23–22 (.511) in conference play to the Florida job. But with 5 years and a 15 million buyout, Golden is not a likely addition.

Chris Beard, former Texas head coach, age 50

Golden posted a record at his most recent stop at Texas of 29–13 (.690) overall and 10–8 (.556) in Big 12 conference play before being dismissed for accusations of physical violence with his fiancee that were later retracted by her. Prior to his brief stint at Texas, Beard went 112–55 (.671) overall and 49–40 (.551) in Big 12 conference play, going to the NCAA finals, the Great 8 and round of 32 in three of his four seasons there. Talk is heating up about Ole Miss making a strong pitch for him and even though the allegations were withdrawn against him, he could be a tricky hire at Cal.

Related:

Cal Makes Change In Men's Basketball Leadership - Fox Gone

Discussion from...

Potential Men's Basketball Coaching Candidates

63,747 Views | 361 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Pittstop
eastcoastcal
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Great breakdown! I wonder what the timeline looks like- are we reaching out to coaches right now who are not going to the NCAA tournament? Or do we have to wait until all postseason play concludes?
MoragaBear
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Staff
eastcoastcal said:

Great breakdown! I wonder what the timeline looks like- are we reaching out to coaches right now who are not going to the NCAA tournament? Or do we have to wait until all postseason play concludes?
You can put feelers out but there would likely be little to no direct conversations with the potential candidates
Northside91
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Magpayo from UCR. Short on experience but seems competent and has exposures beyond basketball that might help him navigate the eyeballs deep bullshyt at Cal. I have little taste for discussion of racial/cultural/ethnic factors, but broad outreach to win back fans and $ support will be important, and his background may help....The other options are uninspired/uninspiring imo.
ncbears
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Chris Mack?
Cal tried to get him once before - allegedly.
Or are the reasons for his dismissal at Louisville make him a non-starter.
southseasbear
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MoragaBear said:

eastcoastcal said:

Great breakdown! I wonder what the timeline looks like- are we reaching out to coaches right now who are not going to the NCAA tournament? Or do we have to wait until all postseason play concludes?
You can put feelers out but there would likely be little to no direct conversations with the potential candidates
Don't most of them have agents?
Fire Knowlton!
Fire Fox!
Put Wilcox in a hot seat!
concernedparent
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ncbears said:

Chris Mack?
Cal tried to get him once before - allegedly.
Or are the reasons for his dismissal at Louisville make him a non-starter.
Chris Beard's situation way more of a non-starter for me.
BearSD
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concernedparent said:

ncbears said:

Chris Mack?
Cal tried to get him once before - allegedly.
Or are the reasons for his dismissal at Louisville make him a non-starter.
Chris Beard's situation way more of a non-starter for me.
Yeah, Beard couldn't get anywhere near this job. This isn't Oxford, Mississippi.



calumnus
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Northside91 said:

Magpayo from UCR. Short on experience but seems competent and has exposures beyond basketball that might help him navigate the eyeballs deep bullshyt at Cal. I have little taste for discussion of racial/cultural/ethnic factors, but broad outreach to win back fans and $ support will be important, and his background may help....The other options are uninspired/uninspiring imo.


He should be on the list, maybe not at the top, but above most of the guys on this list who would definitely be uninspiring at best.



OneTopOneChickenApple
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Any potential women coaches? I would support a Becky Hammon-type coach. And not saying that for diversity sake. I think there would be some good candidates out there.
calumnus
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What about NBA guys? Plenty of guys don't quite make it there but do well in college. Maybe someone like Luke Walton or Steve Nash? Or G League coaches? People who know the NBA better please chime in.
MinotStateBeav
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Get a younger coach, imho should make recruiting easier. I'd be hesitant also about hiring coaches that have career records of around .500 or less. Cal needs a dude that has a proven record of quick turnaround, can't wait 5 years for them to develop.
stu
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Agreed. Unless we get another hall of fame coach the deciding factor will be recruiting. After that other people skills like working with and for players, assistants, fans, donors, and the Cal bureaucracy.
wraptor347
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Speedy Claxton would be interesting.
juarezbear
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Am I the only person who's surprised none of the top candidates are AA?
calumnus
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juarezbear said:

Am I the only person who's surprised none of the top candidates are AA?


I am hoping this is just the "Bearinsider" ranking and does not reflect inside knowledge of the actual thinking. Of the "top" candidates, I like Odom but really only Pasternak is a good fit. I am surprised they did not even throw DeCuire into that list as his winning percentage is still good even though he seems past his sell date, he is "only" 52, still knows how to coach and a move back to Berkeley might revitalize him.

Ideally we would also look at coaches from the professional ranks.
oskidunker
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calumnus said:

juarezbear said:

Am I the only person who's surprised none of the top candidates are AA?


I am hoping this is just the "Bearinsider" ranking and does not reflect inside knowledge of the actual thinking. Of the "top" candidates, I like Odom but really only Pasternak is a good fit. I am surprised they did not even throw DeCuire into that list as his winning percentage is still good even though he seems past his sell date, he is "only" 52, still knows how to coach and a move back to Berkeley might revitalize him.

Ideally we would also look at coaches from the professional ranks.
Isent a message to Jorge. He would like DeCuire.
Go Bears!
socaliganbear
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juarezbear said:

Am I the only person who's surprised none of the top candidates are AA?


No? Not much we can do now about the fact that probably THE top coach, who happens to be AA, is no longer affordable to us.
socaltownie
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juarezbear said:

Am I the only person who's surprised none of the top candidates are AA?
I was disappointed. Isn't it interesting that Cal has been able to sign/retain the best EB player of their generation when we have had an AA coach (Kidd -Bozman definately has a start but absent that change Jason would have bolted).
Bobodeluxe
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Is it important that coach candidates belong to Alcoholic's Anonymous?

Love. OWG
89Bear
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Bobodeluxe said:

Is it important that coach candidates belong to Alcoholic's Anonymous?

Love. OWG
Yes, because watching Cal sports has caused us all to hit the hard stuff early and often. New coach will need support.
MilleniaBear
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How about Cuonzo Martin? Did he burn his bridge when he left?
Civil Bear
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MilleniaBear said:

How about Cuonzo Martin? Did he burn his bridge when he left?
His career resume is weaker than Fox's when Fox was hired at Cal.
CamHand
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I stopped reading at Dutcher and Pope sections... can we PLEASE get an editor
calumnus
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Civil Bear said:

MilleniaBear said:

How about Cuonzo Martin? Did he burn his bridge when he left?
His career resume is weaker than Fox's when Fox was hired at Cal.


That is pushing it, but agree, he is no longer a "hot, up and coming young coach" and I'd rather not continue the "tough defense, poor offense" approach.

Cuonzo could recruit to Cal, we need to replicate that, plus his ability to inspire his players, but I'd rather have a younger coach that can implement an efficient offense too.
MilleniaBear
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The recruiting alone by Cuonzo is what could get us to .500 ball. Fox couldn't recruit.

Also on the retread pile - Ben Braun. Looking back at all those NIT appearances and NCAA appearance every 4 years....looks pretty good. Could we get Braun back? Only 69 years old! Maybe hire him for 3 years with an assistant/future head coach who could recruit?

Last ridiculous thought - lots of names being listed but I think we are fooling ourselves. The Cal stock has fallen so much that I doubt any mid major coach would jump to come to Cal unless we paid TOP dollar. Even some schools below mid majors maybe better places to coach at than Cal. Its going to take a lot to revive this program.
socaltownie
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MilleniaBear said:

The recruiting alone by Cuonzo is what could get us to .500 ball. Fox couldn't recruit.

Also on the retread pile - Ben Braun. Looking back at all those NIT appearances and NCAA appearance every 4 years....looks pretty good. Could we get Braun back? Only 69 years old! Maybe hire him for 3 years with an assistant/future head coach who could recruit?

Last ridiculous thought - lots of names being listed but I think we are fooling ourselves. The Cal stock has fallen so much that I doubt any mid major coach would jump to come to Cal unless we paid TOP dollar. Even some schools below mid majors maybe better places to coach at than Cal. Its going to take a lot to revive this program.
LOL. Joe P gets a 4-5x increase in comp over UCSB. There are NOT many west coast openings (yet). Hopkins is staying put (LOL). Haas is staying put. No openings (yet) at UCLA or USC. Where does Joe go?

And if he passes and lets say gets a million (which would be ridiculous for UCSB) he STILL is making 33-50% of what he makes at Cal. And we KNOW what Joe P makes cause it is a public university/

Are we getting Randy B? No. Is Mark Few moving South? No. But Joe P is literally sitting right there on the shelf and all we need to do is sign him Friday after Baylor beats the Gauchos.
BC Calfan
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See, we are relevant!!


calumnus
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BC Calfan said:

See, we are relevant!!





I want the Warriors' and Steve Kerr's advice about who our coach should be above Mike Montgomery and Ben Braun's.

Cabin14
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The transfer portal is open...

Knowlton needs to move quickly - deliberately, but quickly.
concernedparent
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BC Calfan said:

See, we are relevant!!



Surprised Turner hasn't gotten a shot at a power conference program. He's been 1st or 2nd in the Big West more years than not. Don't want him for us, but we would've been way better off with him rather than Wyking or Fox.
bearister
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That is an A+ article that clearly took a lot of time to write. I have sent it to several friends. Thank you.
Cancel my subscription to the Resurrection
Send my credentials to the House of Detention
I got some friends inside
BearSD
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socaltownie said:

MilleniaBear said:

The recruiting alone by Cuonzo is what could get us to .500 ball. Fox couldn't recruit.

Also on the retread pile - Ben Braun. Looking back at all those NIT appearances and NCAA appearance every 4 years....looks pretty good. Could we get Braun back? Only 69 years old! Maybe hire him for 3 years with an assistant/future head coach who could recruit?

Last ridiculous thought - lots of names being listed but I think we are fooling ourselves. The Cal stock has fallen so much that I doubt any mid major coach would jump to come to Cal unless we paid TOP dollar. Even some schools below mid majors maybe better places to coach at than Cal. Its going to take a lot to revive this program.
LOL. Joe P gets a 4-5x increase in comp over UCSB. There are NOT many west coast openings (yet). Hopkins is staying put (LOL). Haas is staying put. No openings (yet) at UCLA or USC. Where does Joe go?

And if he passes and lets say gets a million (which would be ridiculous for UCSB) he STILL is making 33-50% of what he makes at Cal. And we KNOW what Joe P makes cause it is a public university/

Are we getting Randy B? No. Is Mark Few moving South? No. But Joe P is literally sitting right there on the shelf and all we need to do is sign him Friday after Baylor beats the Gauchos.
Correct, any midmajor coach other than Mark Few would be getting a big pay bump if hired by Cal.

And, any successful power conference coach isn't taking this job.

The realistic pool of candidates is midmajor coaches, plus power conference coaches who have been fired or are looking to jump before getting fired, plus assistant coaches and former head coaches looking to get back in.
Cabin14
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And who would that be?
wraptor347
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I think they're referring to Dennis Gates.
Cabin14
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Agreed…defense wins championships, but offense wins games.

We need to win some games.
 
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