About a month ago SMU fired their head basketball coach and committed to an extensive search for the best candidate possible. About the same time I wrote a piece listing out some quality candidates; both realistic and a pipe dream. In the past couple weeks there have been a lot of rumors floated and a lot of rejection for SMU.
The candidates who have been the biggest media targets are the ones who have told SMU no. Buzz Williams from Marquettewas a big name, and everything heard and read made it sound like SMU was ready to money whip him to the hilltop. Problem is, he is already a head coach of a Big East school and they were in the NCAA Tournament this year. There was little to no incentive to even think Buzz Williams would want to move toDallas.
Also at the same time, SMU pursued Long Beach State head coach Dan Monson, who wasn’t interested in making a move either. Then earlier this week everybody was a buzz thinking that Rick Majerus was going to listen to what SMU had to say. But he quickly said no, and is happy to stay with a team who looks to be a perennial tournament contender. Now the Mustangs have fallen all the way back to square one.
They have talked to a few other coaches who weren’t big name grabs that some may have missed. They interviewed an Indiana assistant coach while in New Orleans at the Final Four, who also was on my original list. These are the types of coaches SMU needs to aim for, the assistants looking for a place to earn their stripes, or some small program they could lure a guy away from.
One of the biggest shocks to me in this coaching search is the fact that SMU has not reached out to UNT’s Johnny Jones. All he has done is turn North Texas into a contender every year. But it may be too late to call him because he is being rumored for the LSU job opening. SMU is not against the clock as this search is dragging on and instead of being a viable option; they won’t be an option for a lot of coaches.
Steve Orisini has been so obsessed with making the “splash hire” that he has lost the opportunity to make a good hire and excite the fan base by building a winning program. Regardless of who they eventually hire, it will be a tough task to turn this program around. But for them to hire a coach, Orsini needs to wake up and look for a realistic hire instead of chasing pipe dreams and wasting everyone’s time.
There are still quality coaches out there who can build excitement in the fan base by putting a winning product on the floor. At this point any hire they make who isn’t a national name could be a let down to the fans. And that will only make their job tougher because Orsini and the media pumped up big names only to get left with pie on their face.