Coaching rumors bloom in spring

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OWINGS MILLS, Md. – It’s that time of the year, when all the off-course talk is for the most part centered around the coaching changes about to take place. It’s not like there are a lot of jobs open, but it’s the name of the schools that have a vacancy sign above the coaches’ office that have people talking.

Jobs such as: Auburn, Ohio State, Charlotte and Oklahoma on the men’s side. And on the women’s side, Florida, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

Expect things to get rolling just after NCAAs.

The one job that has been open the longest is at Ohio State, where Jim Brown is retiring after 36 years. The Buckeyes job is posted and will close June 3. School officials plan to decide June 8 on a final group of candidates, then announce the new coach later that week.

Who might the Buckeyes target? Washington’s Matt Thurmond would be a perfect fit, but because of what he has built in Seattle and the support the Huskies get from alumni, boosters and fans, it would be very hard for him to leave.

Certainly the Buckeyes could stay in the Big Ten and try to convince Mark Hankins to leave Iowa. Hankins, one of the best coaches at making players reach their potential, knows how to get it done in the conference – winning Big Ten titles at Michigan State and taking a once-dormant Iowa program to the NCAA finals this year. I also have heard good things within Ohio State circles about Brad Sparling and surely he will get some sort of look. Other possibilities: Augusta State’s Josh Gregory and Oklahoma State assistant coach Donnie Darr. And no, I don’t want to hear about former PGA Tour players interested in the opening.

The Charlotte job has been open all spring since Jamie Green left for Duke. Many felt it was Adam Pry’s job to win or lose. I would say it’s a draw. I know he is well liked there. Can he take the 49ers to where they want to be? The obvious choice here would be Central Florida’s Nick Clinard, who is from that part of the country and might be looking for a better deal. And he’s a popular guy right now after the Knights’ NCAA Southeast Regional victory.

Colorado State’s Jamie Bermel had an outstanding season and has had success everywhere he has been. Charlotte would be his most-logical stop. Other candidates for the 49ers: Augusta State’s Gregory and Middle Tennessee’s Whit Turnbow. AndI would love to see what Bruce Cunningham could do at a place different than Eastern Michigan.

Arkansas’ Brad McMakin had been pegged for the Oklahoma job years ago. However, I’ve learned Brad most likely will not be leaving Arkansas to go anywhere. Look for Cincinnati’s Doug Martin, UCLA’s Derek Freeman and Texas Tech’s Greg Sands to get looks. Also Oklahoma Christian’s Kelsey Cline and Oklahoma City’s Kyle Blaser could get into the mix and maybe former Minnesota coach John Means, who played golf for the Sooners. Sooner or later (pun intended), Means needs to be back at the men’s Division I level.

Many feel like Auburn assistant Ryan Cabbage will be the guy to replace longtime Tiger boss Mike Griffin. Cabbage is well-liked and respected among the coaching circles and at the end of the day may be the guy. But Auburn might be doing itself a disservice if it did not look at Hankins. Florida State’s Trey Jones also might be a good fit.

A few other coaches who may get some looks this summer: Texas Arlington’s Jay Rees, San Diego State’s Ryan Donovan, Georgia Southern’s Larry Mays and San Diego’s Tim Mickleson. Obviously, there are numerous assistants also hoping to land a head coaching gig, but those calls will probably come when the dominoes start falling.

We will talk about the women’s openings next time. Now it’s time to get back out and see if the Pac-10 party continues here at Caves Valley.

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