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Vanderbilt Basketball Coaching Search: Ben Jacobson

This is certainly more of a "wish list" candidate than anything else. Jacobson would be a good hire, but it's not clear if there's any interest on either end... which, well, that describes a lot of people in this search.

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Ben Jacobson, head coach, Northern Iowa Panthers

Career Record: 220-118 (10 seasons); 4 NCAA Tournament appearances; 4-4 NCAA Tournament record

Accomplishments: A three-time Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year winner, Jacobson has won the Valley twice, won 30 or more games in a season on two occasions, and made the 2010 Sweet 16 (introducing "Farokhmanesh" into the lexicon in the process.)

Before He Was A Head Coach: Jacobson grew up in North Dakota, played college ball at North Dakota, then was an assistant there for six years before spending a year as an assistant at North Dakota State, then joined Greg McDermott's staff at Northern Iowa for five years before becoming head coach himself.

Ties to Vanderbilt: None that we know of.

Stylistic Tendencies: Jacobson's 2016 team was his first that did not finish in the top 30 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage, and the Panthers in his tenure also typically don't commit many fouls, ranking in the top 25 in defensive free throw rate in four of the last five years.  They've also generally shot the ball pretty well and committed relatively few turnovers.  They also play at a glacial pace.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, as it's important to distinguish between "slow" and "ugly."  The Panthers play slow, but their playing style isn't ugly.

Would he come here? Unknown.  On the one hand, Vanderbilt can easily give him a hefty raise -- Jacobson's base pay is only $400,000, though various incentives push his total compensation higher than that, and his buyout is probably around (we're guessing) $2 million or so -- but on the other hand, he's spent basically his entire life in the states of North Dakota and Iowa and it's an open question whether he would move to Nashville.  At the same time, he may be starting to see that there are limits on how much he can do at Northern Iowa.

Thoughts: Why isn't Jacobson getting more attention?  Either people are underrating his resume, or they're assuming that he's a Northern Iowa lifer.  But the entirety of his resume suggests that he should at least get a call to determine if he's interested -- after Gregg Marshall (whom we've profiled) and Mark Few (whom we're really unconvinced is ever leaving Gonzaga), Jacobson probably has the strongest resume of anyone at the mid-major level: he's won nearly two thirds of his games as a head coach and he's accomplished that over multiple recruiting cycles, so there's no way to chalk his success up to one or two players or a single recruiting class.  This is a strong combination of upside (not as good as Marshall, but still good) and floor (he's not going to tank the program) as anyone you're going to find.  Again, the only real question here is whether he would consider coming to Vanderbilt -- but it's worth finding out.