With the news that Kevin Stallings is leaving Vanderbilt to become the new head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, the next question inevitably becomes: who will be Vanderbilt's next head coach? Here are a few candidates that should or will get a look from Vice Chancellor David Williams.
Current job: Head coach, VCU Rams
Career record: 65-36, 3 seasons (2 at Chattanooga, one at VCU)
Pros: Young, brings energy to the job. Spent two years building at Chattanooga before taking the VCU job; made the NCAA Tournament in his first year at VCU and got to the second round before losing a close one to Oklahoma. Would probably take the job.
Cons: Well, aside from the fact that Wade is still pretty green, his one major success as a head coach was winning with a team that was largely recruited by Shaka Smart. He couldn't hold on to Smart's recruiting class when he took the job, and there are questions about whether he can recruit at a high level. Still, Wade seems to be the fans' choice -- though I suspect that many are overrating him because of his connections to Nashville.
Current job: Head coach, Monmouth Hawks
Career record: 79-85, 5 seasons
Pros: If you liked Stallings, you'll love King Rice, his former assistant both at Vanderbilt and from his Illinois State days. Resurrected a moribund Monmouth program and also moved them from the NEC to the MAAC, going 28-8 and being named MAAC Coach of the Year this year.
Cons: Well, there's that sub-.500 career record. There are caveats (namely, that Monmouth was not very good when he took the job, and also that they moved to a tougher conference two years into his tenure), but it's extremely rare to see a good coach need five years to turn a program into a contender at that level. Like Wade, people tend to overrate his connections to Vanderbilt. And at 47, he's not as young as people think.
Current job: Head coach, UNC Wilmington Seahawks
Career record: 43-22, 2 seasons
Pros: Engineered a two-year turnaround from 9-23 in UNC-Wilmington's final season of Buzz Peterson to 25-8, a CAA title, and an NCAA Tournament appearance this year.
Cons: Plays a physical style that might not work at a school like Vanderbilt. Was an assistant at Louisville during the time period of the current NCAA investigation, and while Keatts hasn't been implicated so far, you would certainly want to do your homework here.
Current job: Head coach, Little Rock Trojans
Career record: 96-30, 4 seasons (one at McMurry, two at Angelo State, one at Little Rock)
Pros: Has won at three different stops, including two at the Division II level; in his first year at Little Rock, took over a team that had gone 13-18 the year before and immediately went 30-5, reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Previously worked under Bob Knight as an assistant coach, so the pedigree is there as well.
Cons: There aren't any obvious cons, but can he recruit at this level? That's going to be a question for every coach who hasn't been at a high-major before, but it seems especially pressing for a guy who's never been in one place for more than two years.
Current job: Head coach, Harvard Crimson
Career record: 351-234, 19 seasons (four at Seton Hall, six at Michigan, nine at Harvard)
Pros: Has been a Division I head coach for 19 years. Has a 4-5 NCAA Tournament record despite never being seeded higher than 10th. Made four straight NCAA Tournaments at Harvard -- after the Crimson hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 1946.
Cons: Also made zero NCAA Tournaments in six years at Michigan. This would be the worst kind of retread hire, a coach who wasn't all that successful at a Power 5 school before winning at a mid-major. Also, there are rumors that Amaker's success at Harvard has had a lot to do with them lowering the academic standards for athletes. I'm not sure what exactly would convince you that a guy who couldn't win at Michigan would win at Vanderbilt, but Jeff Goodman threw his name out there.
Current job: Head coach, Wichita State Shockers
Career record: 424-168, 18 seasons (nine at Winthrop, nine at Wichita State)
Pros: Aside from winning 72 percent of his career games? Well, he went to a Final Four at Wichita State of all places. And seriously, you can't have a power-conference coaching search without bringing him up. While he's turned down overtures from bigger names before, the timing for him to leave Wichita might not be better with Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet graduating.
Cons: There aren't any obvious negatives in his record, but he would cost a lot of money to lure away from Wichita -- and he might never leave in any case.
Current job: Head coach, Chattanooga Mocs
Career record: 25-6, 1 season
Pros: Well-recommended, with a four-year stint under Billy Donovan at Florida prior to taking the Chattanooga job. Won the Southern Conference and made the NCAA Tournament in his first year there.
Cons: Would you be comfortable hiring a Florida assistant as head coach? Because, well, that's the bulk of McCall's resume at this point, other than taking over a loaded Chattanooga team from Will Wade and not screwing it up in his first year.
Current job: Head coach, Northern Iowa Panthers
Career record: 220-118, 10 seasons
Pros: Has maintained the Northern Iowa program at a high level (.651 career winning percentage) through multiple recruiting cycles. 4-4 NCAA Tournament record despite three appearances as a 9-seed or lower. Experienced but also fairly young (45 years old.) Looks like a solid hire on paper.
Cons: Has never coached outside the Midwest, and he's turned down overtures from power conference schools before. Would he actually take the Vanderbilt job?
Current job: Head coach, Tennessee State Tigers
Career record: 25-37, 2 seasons
Pros: This would certainly be out of left field, but across town from Vanderbilt, Ford (who at 31 is currently the youngest head coach in Division I) took Tennessee State from 5-26 in his first season to 20-11 in his second season, all at a school that is not an easy place to win at.
Cons: The career record isn't pretty, but given that he hasn't been there very long it's a reflection on what he inherited more than anything else. This would be one where you'd definitely have to do your homework -- but considering what he inherited, his resume really isn't that different from somebody like Wade or McCall.
We will have more in the coming days as candidates emerge. Leave your thoughts on who should be the next coach in the comments.