Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Six Degrees of a Coaching Change: Tracking the Coaching Carousel Part III

We are now heading into post No. 3 of our breakdown of the 2011 Coaching Carousel. (See Part I here and Part II here.) Today, we will be looking at the single biggest splash that was made in this offseason's coaching carousel: when John Pelphrey lost his job as the head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Looking back, the ride was wild.

Five head coaching positions changed hands. Three head coaches got a raise and a contract extension as the result of interest from the school's who had a position open up. There were 13 assistant coaching positions that were filled. Three top 75 recruits changed a commitment to three different schools. Four players transferred.

By the time all the dominoes had fallen, 19 different Division I programs -- and one NBA team -- had been affected in some way.

How did it all play out?

March 13th: Boom. Arkansas' John Pelphrey got the axe. In four years with the Razorbacks, Pelphrey managed just a 69-59 record, going only 25-39 in the SEC. That's not exactly what a program that has won a national title is looking for. And I'm sure that it had absolutely nothing to do with the recruiting violation that came to light three days earlier. Pelphrey would eventually end up getting hired back onto Billy Donovan's staff at Florida, the same place that he started his career.

  • March 23rd: After quite a bit of speculation and even more disinformation relayed by both parties, Arkansas finally settled on Missouri head coach Mike Anderson as a replacement for Pelphrey. The move makes sense. Anderson was a long time assistant under Nolan Richardson at Arkansas and runs the system that Richardson made famous with the Hogs.

    • April 6th: Anderson announced that he would be bringing the staff he had at Missouri to Arkansas. Melvin Watkins will be his associate head coach while TJ Cleveland and Matt Zimmerman are assistants.

    • June 4th: Rising junior Glenn Bryant asks for and receives his release to transfer out of the Arkansas program.

    • June 11: Rising senior point guard Jeff Peterson decided to transfer out of the Arkansas program. Since he had already finished his undergraduate work, Peterson can transfer and play immediately.

    • June 16th: New Eastern Michigan head coach Rob Murphy lands a commitment from Glenn Bryant, who will have to sit out a year after transferring.

    • June 17th: Mike Anderson refuses to grant Rotnei Clarke a release to transfer from the school, resulting in the Clarke family going to the media to try and force the issue.

    • June 20th: It took a couple of days, but Clarke eventually is granted his release by Anderson. It looks like Clarke may end up playing his final year of eligibility at Butler.

    • June 29th: Peterson decided to attend Florida State for his final season, where he will no doubt provide some back court help.

  • March 30th: Missouri showed heavy interest in Purdue's Matt Painter. After a number of days on the fence -- and a number of reports claiming that Painter had made a decision, with some convinced he was staying and others convinced he was leaving -- Painter finally agreed to remain in West Lafayette with a longer, more lucrative, contract.

  • April 4th: Missouri was able to bounce back from the disappointment of missing out on Painter pretty quickly, as they were able to sign Frank Haith away from Miami. Haith is a bit of a surprise hire, as he was never dominant -- and barely registered as good -- with the Hurricanes.

    • April 12th: Otto Porter, a Missouri native and one of the best recruits still available, decided to spurn his hometown Tigers, who he was rumored to be favoring, when Haith was hired. Porter ended up at Georgetown.

    • April 12th: Haith, responding to a text message from a reporter about Porter, was quoted on record discussing a recruit that had not signed with Missouri, a secondary violation.

    • April 13th: In an effort to ramp up his recruiting, Haith brought in Louisville assistant coach Tim Fuller. Fuller, who has deep connections in North Carolina and is close with 2012 uber-recruit Rodney Purvis, has been close with Haith since Haith was an assistant on the Wake Forest team Fuller was a member of.

    • April 14th: Frank Haith hires Ernie Nestor as the second member of his staff. He and Nestor had spent time together on Dave Odom's staff at Wake Forest. Nestor was the director of basketball operations at Penn State last season and has been a head coach at George Mason and Elon.

    • April 15th: Haith's final hire is Isaac Chew, who spent the past four seasons at Murray State. Chew is a big-time pick-up for Haith as he spent a number of years as a coach for Kansas City Pump-n-Run Elite, one of the best AAU programs in the area. Ironically, neither Chew or Nestor were replaced at their previous jobs due to changes in the coaching regime at both schools.

    • April 26th: To replace Fuller, Pitino hired Wyking Jones away from New Mexico. Prior to working for the Lobos, Jones was the director of the Nike EYBL, which means that he has connections with Nike AAU teams all over the country.

    • April 26th: Duane Broussard was promoted from director of basketball operations to replace Jones at New Mexico.

  • April 5th: Due to a number of high-major job openings (including Missouri), VCU was forced to open up their wallets to keep Shaka Smart around. The 33 year old, who led the Rams to the 2011 Final Four, got an eight-year, $1.2 million annual contract. His salary more than doubled Jim Larranaga's at George Mason, who led the Patriots to the 2006 Final Four.

  • April 12th: Harvard's Tommy Amaker became a top target for the Hurricanes, but after discussions with the University, Amaker opted to remain the head coach of the Crimson, who will be the heavy favorite to win the Ivy next season.

  • April 23rd: In a move that many thought to be shocking and, frankly, ill-advised, 61 year old Jim Larranaga agreed to leave George Mason and accept the head coaching position at Miami. There are a number of factors involved in his decision, but the fact that he didn't get along with his athletic director -- and that Shaka Smart got his raise -- was enough to drive him from a powerhouse mid-major to the bottom of the ACC.

  • April 25th: George Washington head coach Karl Hobbs is fired by the school's new AD. His staff loses their job as well. The most interesting part of this isn't that Hobbs is out of a job, but that his assistant, Roland Houston, is. Why? Houston's nephew, Eric Copes, is a top 10 center in the class of 2011 and was committed to GW to play for his uncle.

  • April 30th: George Mason reached back into the ACC, the league that snatched away Larranaga, to hire their replacement. Paul Hewitt, who was fired as the head coach at Georgia Tech in March, got the job. Hewitt made a name for himself by turning Siena into a low-major powerhouse before taking the Yellow Jackets to the 2004 Final Four.

    • May 5th: With Larranaga out and Hewitt in, Luke Hancock, who was George Mason's tournament hero and their best returning player, asked for a release to look into a transfer.

    • May 6th: Hewitt hired Chris Kreidel, who had spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Georgia Southern. Kreidel was a member of Hewitt's staff from two seasons at Georgia Tech.

    • May 13th: Roland Houston is officially hired by Hewitt. On the same day, Copes is released from his letter of intent to GW.

    • May 16th: Copes officially becomes a member of the George Mason recruiting class. This is a huge coup Hewitt, as Copes should be a very good player for the Patriots, the kind of big man that can buoy a program in the CAA.

    • May 24th: Hancock finally settled on a school, announcing his intentions to transfer to Louisville to play in the Big East.

      • June 7th: Louisville announces that, as a result of having three more scholarships promised than they have available, Kyle Kuric, Chris Smith, and Elisha Justice will be walking-on next season.

    • June 2nd: Paul Hewitt completed his coaching staff by hiring Mike Wells, who had spent the past 17 years as an assistant and advanced scout in the NBA.

    • June 22nd: To fill the void left by Kreidel, Georgia Southern hired Chris Capko, who had lost his job after there was a head coaching change at Stetson this spring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For the record, you are printing the Clarke family line on how his release went down. Anderson can not single handedly grant a player his release, and our AD was out of town when Clarke requested it. Anderson called long to tell him what was happening, and as soon as Long was back in town, Rotnei got his release. The CBS article that everyone gets their info from on this was written by a personal friend of the Clarke family. Please stop perpetuating the Clarke family's bs. Rotnei did this to us every season he was here, and his family wanted to be way too involved with our athletic department. I don't believe Mike did anything wrong here, and many of us are tired of seeing everyone just accept the story of one prima donna spoiled brat.