While many considered Kentucky Assistant Coach Kenny Payne to be the front-runner for Missisissippi State’s vacant Head Coach position, Jeff Goodman reports that former UCLA coach Ben Howland is MSU’s top pick.
Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin has been looking for a replacement for Rick Ray, who was fired after three sub-par seasons in Starkville. Under Ray’s leadership, the Bulldogs finished this season with a 13-19 record.
Howland, who has been a television analyst for two years, recently told USA Today he was interested in returning to coaching. He led the Bruins to three consecutive Final Four appearances as head coach, but was fired following the 2012-2013 season.
Three years ago, Stricklin met with Payne, a native of Mississippi, when he was looking to fill the head coaching spot after Rick Stansbury retired.