A month ago, Tennessee fans were scrambling to push basketball head coach Cuonzo Martin out of the Volunteer state. However after Tennessee found their second wind and turned from bubble contender to missing the elite eight on a bad call, the sentiment has changed.
Late Monday night news broke that though Martin was being heavily considered for the vacant Marquette job, Martin pulled his name out of consideration. However, with basketball programs across the nation sensing the tension between Tennessee fans and coach Martin, and Martin’s potential there are sure to be more offers.
If Tennessee gets outbid for Martin, or if he just decides to take another opportunity and try for a fresh start then Athletics Director Dave Hart needs to know his options.
5. Jeff Boals, Ohio State
Boals isn’t a name that will get a lot of attention, but he has been part of a very underrated Ohio State basketball team. Over the last three years, the Buckeyes have gone 85-16 in a division with Michigan, Wisconsin and Michigan State while playing some very good teams outside of their conference.
4. Chris Jans, Wichita State
There will likely never be a better time for Jans to leave than right now. After piloting an undefeated team in Wichita State, his stock is likely at a peak and while Tennessee fans should be wary of that, there is still a lot of potential here. Jans can use his previous record to impress talented recruits and add smart coaches to round out his staff.
3. Mike Hopkins, Syracuse
The incumbent in a job that looks like it isn’t going to be available any time soon, Hopkins needs to leave Syracuse but he needs the right opportunity. Hopkins almost ended up coaching at USC last year so there is obviously interest on his end to become a head coach, and the Vols could be an enticing landing spot.
2. Greg Gard, Wisconsin
Dipping back into the Big 10, the Vols could take a close look at Gard. After spending a wealth of time under Bo Ryan, maybe now it is time for guard to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. His abilities as a recruiter would also help add much-needed talent and youth to the Tennessee roster.
1. Chris Caputo, Miami
The difference between hiring a head coach in football and basketball is extreme. In hiring a football coach, a program needs someone that can build a solid foundation that can consistently yield results. Hiring a basketball coach, you need someone who can bring in top-end talent every year or else your team will be one-and-done. With that in mind, it could be argued that while ability to coach is a great asset, the primary goal an AD should look at is an ability to recruit.
Caputo dominates recruiting in the Washington D.C. area, which is filled with very talented players. If Caputo could bring that talent to a generally weak SEC, then he could make an instant impact and possibly move the Vols from a team always competing for a bubble spot, to a team that is competing for SEC titles.