The Georgia football team had arguably the best season in school history in winning a national championship, but the men's basketball team just completed its worst season ever at 6-26 and 1-18 in SEC play after getting clobbered by Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament on Wednesday. Tom Crean is a goner as Dawgs' head coach – it may take a week due to contract language -- and SportsLine offers odds on his replacement.
Needless to say, this is a tough job living in the shadow of such a dominant football program, but Alabama's Nate Oats in the SEC has proven you can win at a football-first (second and third) school. Plenty of top basketball recruits emerge from the Atlanta area each year.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently reported that a search firm has been vetting potential candidates for at least two weeks. Louisville and Maryland are both also open, and those are definitely better gigs for basketball (Kansas State just opened, too, but UGA is a much better job). One coach who had been a rumored target of both Georgia and Maryland was USC's Andy Enfield, but he just got a big new extension. Enfield earned his master's degree from Maryland.
Another potential candidate for Georgia, Wake Forest's Steve Forbes, the ACC Coach of the Year, signed a long-term extension Monday. Landing Providence's Ed Cooley, the Big East Coach of the Year, would be a home run but a likely long shot as he's beloved in his hometown and expected to get his own extension. Cooley also has been linked to Maryland and Louisville.
UGA likely will have to settle for a mid-major coach or an assistant at a power conference school. While Xavier embarrassingly crashed out of the Big East Tournament on Wednesday vs. Butler because it was 13-for-29 from the free-throw line, Musketeers assistant Jonas Hayes is considered an excellent recruiter. He played at Georgia in the early 2000s and spent seven seasons on Mark Fox's staff there in the 2010s. Hayes simply lacks head coaching experience. Some members of Georgia's athletic board reportedly are pushing for Hayes.
Dennis Gates led Cleveland State to the Horizon League regular-season title – the Vikings lost in the conference tournament semifinals -- and earned his stripes as Leonard Hamilton's primary recruiter at Florida State, which has mined Atlanta for top talent for years.
Murray State's Matt McMahon has been mentioned as a Louisville possibility. He has won or shared four regular-season titles during his seven-year tenure at the Ohio Valley school, and this year's team might be his best after going unbeaten in league play – earning an NCAA Tournament bid last Saturday with a win over Morehead State in the conference tournament final.
Georgia could simply stay in state and hire Georgia State's Rob Lanier, who led the Panthers to the Sun Belt Tournament title and their first Big Dance appearance since 2019. Big Brother schools don't often hire from their Little Brothers, so to speak.
Would South Carolina's Frank Martin leave one SEC football-first school for another? He wins constantly but the Gamecocks haven't reached the NCAA Tournament since a run to the 2017 Final Four. Also in the SEC, Ben Howland could look to "upgrade" from Mississippi State. Howland, 64, is in his seventh season in Starkville, and he has only coached in one NCAA Tournament following mega-success at UCLA.
Former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy has led UAB to back-to-back 20-plus wins seasons, and the Blazers have a legit shot to win the Conference USA Tournament.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who will be the next Georgia basketball coach?
- Jonas Hayes +300
- Matt McMahon +400
- Dennis Gates +400
- Frank Martin +700
- Rob Lanier +800
- Ben Howland +1000
- Andy Kennedy +1500
- Ed Cooley +2000
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