Former Maryland men’s head basketball coach Mark Turgeon’s abrupt departure from the program on Dec. 3 opened up a wave of speculation about who the next leader of the team will be.
While interim head coach and former assistant Danny Manning holds the reins for now, the opportunity to coach at a school in prime recruiting territory and with a rich history of success will likely leave Maryland with several intriguing options as a full-time replacement.
“It’s a very desirable job and I think it’s a great job,” ESPN college hoops analyst Jay Bilas said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 7. “… It’s a big-time Power Five job in a great league. So there will be no shortage of great candidates for the job.”
Speculation has already begun flying regarding the next man at the helm in College Park. But the wishful thinking of fans likely will differ from the realistic options, especially as Maryland jockeys for position among other schools that will be shopping for a head coach replacement.
“I think Maryland is a better job than Syracuse, but both are good,” Bilas said, regarding where Maryland stands among other household names in college basketball.
A popular name among Maryland fans has been Alabama head coach Nate Oats. Since taking the lead job in Tuscaloosa following the 2018-19 season, Oats has led the Crimson Tide to a 49-23 record that includes a stellar 26-7 mark last year. The Tide took down the Terps in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, 96-77, in March.
“I don’t know about Nate Oats specifically, but I would cast a wide net,” Bilas said. “Look, all these deals are backroom deals anyway, so it’ll be pretty quick to gauge coaches that already have jobs.”
Oats isn’t the only name being floated as a potential replacement for Turgeon. Bilas is optimistic that Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and Harvard’s Tommy Amaker could be in the running for the head coaching position this coming offseason.
“I worked with both of them when I was a grad assistant at Duke, and both of them are D.C. guys,” Bilas said. “… Both of them have been where they are for a long, long time, but the last time Maryland was open those were two names I thought should be in the mix.”
Both have proven themselves to be prolific leaders in their respective coaching careers. Brey, who began his career with a fruitful five seasons at Delaware, has been the head coach at Notre Dame since 2000. He has posted a 451-252 record in 22 seasons at the helm, taking the Fighting Irish to 12 NCAA Tournaments along the way.
Amaker has been in the coaching business since the late ’80s and has been a head coach at Seton Hall, Michigan and Harvard. He has led Harvard to four NCAA Tournaments and six Ivy League Conference titles and owns a 257-143 record with the team since taking over in 2007. Amaker has a 433-282 record in 25 seasons as a head coach.
Another potential option is Auburn’s Bruce Pearl, who has had a productive tenure with the Tigers. He has gone 145-93 with a Final Four appearance since taking over in 2014. Pearl posted a 145-61 record with Tennessee from 2005-2011, leading the Vols to the NCAA Tournament each season.
“If you want to go the anti-Mark Turgeon perception … you go hire Bruce Pearl. I don’t know if you can, but you go and hire Bruce Pearl, a Boston College grad,” ESPN analyst Seth Greenberg said on GCR Dec. 6. “… He’s a terrific, terrific coach, plays a fast style of basketball, and he’s a very good evaluator of talent. He would be a guy that just right off the top of my head. If you think of who you go get, he’s a guy that makes, to some extent, some sense.”
Recruiting will play a big role in Maryland’s decision regardless of which direction they go in. Maryland lies in rich recruiting territory that attracts powerful ACC schools like Duke, North Carolina and Virginia. Reclaiming that territory will be a key task for the next head coach in College Park.
“With the ACC being down, can you re-emerge as a force in Maryland, Virginia, or even North Carolina?” Greenberg asked. “… Because the ACC is a little bit down, can you capitalize on recruiting that corridor a little more successfully?”
Regardless of who the Terps hire this spring, there will undoubtedly be an adjustment period. Whether a big-name coach comes in to right the ship or the program goes in a different direction, a new playing style will be implemented and new recruits will have to get their feet wet.
Bilas says there will be no way to know the trajectory of the program from the hire alone.
“The truth is, when hires are made and schools call [people] like me to get a quote, everybody says, ‘Oh, it’s a great hire.’ The truth is, we don’t really know, you don’t know how the fit is going to go,” Bilas said. “You have very little idea.”
All records are entering play the weekend of Dec. 10-12.
For more from Bilas, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Greenberg, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Ed Sheahin/PressBox