For those of you who didn’t listen to the radio show on Monday, Matt talked about a story from Arizona of a cop pulling him over and asking who the better coach was: Sean Miller or John Calipari. And Matt mentioned that he would totally support Miller becoming the next coach at UK whenever Cal leaves. I would agree with Matt that Miller would be a great candidate for the job. But it also got me thinking about what qualifications a fan would have to see to support a coaching hire.
We don’t have to get into all of them, but I wonder this question: would you support a coaching hire of a person with no head coaching experience. Essentially, would you support the hire of a top assistant coach, whether it be a UK assistant like Kenny Payne or a top assistant from another school? Kentucky has not hired a coach with no head coaching experience since Joe B. Hall in 1972. In fact, every coach since Hall has had at least 5 years of head coaching experience at 2 different jobs:
(0 Final Fours) Joe B. Hall: 0 years (8 years as UK assistant)
(1 Final Four) Eddie Sutton: 16 years (5-Creighton, 11-Arkansas)
(1 Final Four) Rick Pitino: 7 years (5-Boston University, 2-Providence)
(0 Final Fours) Tubby Smith: 6 years (4-Tulsa, 2-Georgia)
(0 Final Fours) Billy Gillispie: 5 years (2-UTEP, 3-Texas A&M)
(2 Final Fours) John Calipari: 17 years (8-UMASS, 9-Memphis)
*Final Fours listed represent made FF BEFORE coming to UK
Now, some of these men have been good, some great, and some bad. I don’t think there is any one number of years that is a must. But would you feel comfortable with 0 years? A look at other top programs and the last time they hired a head coach with no prior head coaching experience:
DUKE: 1973 (Neill Mcgeachy)
KANSAS: 1988 (Roy Williams)
UCLA: 1996 (Steve Lavin)
NORTH CAROLINA: 1997 (Bill Guthridge)
INDIANA: 2000 (Mike Davis)
It’s not unheard of, even in modern college basketball, to see unproven head coaches hired at elite college basketball programs. I don’t know who the top assistant in college basketball is these days, but whoever it is, if UK pursued that person to be the next head coach, would you support that decision? Just some food for thought on a Wednesday.