Texas A&M’s search to replace ex-head coach Mark Turgeon, who fled College Station for the basketball-loving shores of Maryland, has officially entered phase two. After the initial group of Buzz Williams, Tad Boyle, and Gregg Marshall all appeared to be out, the Aggies contacted some new candidates on Thursday, including ex-Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. Van Gundy is not really likely to accept a college job, but the fact that the Aggies reached out to him shows how deep their search is right now.
Ben Jacobson of Northern Iowa, who authored one of the more stunning upsets in NCAA Tourney history when his Panthers knocked off the top-seeded Jayhawks in 2010, has emerged as a serious candidate according to Brent Zwerneman. Meanwhile, another option that could be considered is keeping the job in-house and letting assistant coach Scott Spinelli take over the team. ESPN’s Andy Katz argues voraciously that Spinelli has earned a shot at the job, and while he may have done that, is it enough to overcome actual good head coaching experience?
We’re still a long way from the finish line, and a number of other candidates are in play, including Murray St. coach Billy Kennedy, North Texas coach Johnny Walker, Louisiana-Lafayette coach Bob Marlin, and holdovers from the earlier list including Boyle and Nebraska’s Doc Sadler.
Athletic director Bill Byrne clearly has done a good job of expanding the pool, now comes the part where he has to suss out exactly which of his candidates is the right fit for the job.