ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)- It has now been almost two weeks since Athletic Director Chris May officially announced the end of the Jim Crews era of Saint Louis University men’s basketball. With the exception of an interview with stltoday’s Stu Durando soon after the vacancy was created, May has gone radio silent about aspects of the search. In that interview, May said he wanted someone with head coaching experience and success. That cuts down a list of candidates offered in this space previously.
So here’s a tweaked list, based on some of the chatter going around.
- BRYCE DREW (VALPARAISO) – Durando reports that a search firm hired by SLU has reached out to Drew, in his fifth season coaching the Horizon League’s Crusaders. Drew’s teams have made the postseason each year and are still alive in the NIT. He’s a rising star who could be in line for bigger jobs that will come open either this year or next. His father Homer, who he succeeded on the bench, is a Webster Groves native.
- JOE DOOLEY (FLORIDA GULF COAST) – Yahoo’s Pat Forde reports through multiple sources that Dooley, a former assistant at Kansas, is a “significant candidate” for the job. Dooley took the Eagles back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since their improbable “Dunk City” run a few years ago. Eric Moeller, a De Smet graduate who played for Dooley at FGCU last year says he’s been getting peppered with calls from reporters on the FGCU beat about the SLU situation. Dooley runs the KU offense with a focus on tough defense.
- TRAVIS FORD – The former Oklahoma State Head Coach is looking for a new job after parting ways with the Cowboys. Ford, who played at Missouri before transferring to Kentucky, made the NCAA tourney in six of his eight seasons in Stillwater. Yahoo’s Forde says Ford wants to be in the mix here.
- KEVIN STALLINGS (VANDERBILT) – There have been conflicting reports about his interest in the post and possible contact between his representatives and SLU. I still think the Metro East native is a candidate until his status at Vanderbilt is clear. If he feels like the Commodores are about to make a move or that he’ll spend the next year on the hot seat in Nashville, then he’s still on the short list in my eyes.
All of the candidates with current jobs have, not surprisingly, expressed that they like where they are, in so many words. No coach is going to hold a press gaggle and tell the assembled media “Of course I want to leave!” This is the time of year where coaches and their agents are listening to feelers from all over the place, in hopes that it translates to a better opportunity elsewhere, or security in a new long-term deal with their current school.
For a program like SLU, timing is crucial. You don’t want to rush the hire, but the longer it takes means that more openings that will have a potential domino effect on candidates who could have more attractive options. Pittsburgh could be a landing spot for Dooley or Drew after Jamie Dixon’s departure for TCU. There could be jobs open at Cincinnati, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt where they also fit.
May also doesn’t want to get caught up in what could be characterized as an avalanche. Three blueblood NCAA programs (North Carolina, Kentucky, Louisville) all have at least the possibility of coaching vacancies due to retirement (Roy Williams), the NBA (John Calipari) or NCAA scandal fallout (Rick Pitino). The trickle-down impact across the college basketball coaching landscape could be significant,