The Mid-Major Basketball Coaches Likely High On The List of High Major Conference Athletic Directors
After each season, the top coaches in mid-major basketball get courted by Athletic Directors looking to hire their next basketball coach. Inevitably, there will be a team that makes a surprise run in the NCAA tournament and their coach will receive a large pay raise to lead a team in a major conference.
We’ll rank the top 5 mid-major basketball coaches most likely to be high on the list of a hiring Athletic Director.
* This list excludes Gonzaga’s Mark Few because they are often part of the major conference discussions and, quite frankly, he’s not taking that Athletic Director’s call.
Grant McCasland – North Texas
Athletic Directors have an eye on McCasland because of his success at North Texas and his time at Baylor as an assistant.
Pat Kelsey – College of Charleston
It was a disappointing first season for Kelsey and College of Charleston. If Kelsey can get produce wins at CoC like he did at he previous stop, Winthrop, he’ll have multiple job offers to choose from.
Mark Pope – BYU
If Pope can get BYU into the NCAA tournament this season, he’ll be getting job offers.
Rick Pitino – Iona
After a surprisingly successful two season run at Iona, Pitino, despite his advanced age, will likely get one more shot to lead a high major program.
Kelvin Sampson – Houston
Houston will move to the Big 12 in 2023. The number of wins Sampson has racked up at Houston, puts his NCAA sanction days at Indiana behind him in the minds of Athletic Directors.
This is a well coached league with a mix of high end veterans and up-and-comers.
Rankings are based on who an Athletic Director would most want to hire if they had an opening this year, and not based on lifetime achievements.
Our 2022-23 Big 12 Basketball Coach rankings.
10. Jerome Tang – Kansas State
Tang left his Baylor assistant job to take over Kansas State. The Wildcats are hoping some Baylor success follows Tang to KSU.
9. Mike Boynton, Jr. – Oklahoma State
Boynton has lead Oklahoma State since 2017 and has finished higher than 5th in the conference.
8. Jamie Dixon – TCU
For reasons unknown to us, Dixon often gets overlooked. You could do much worse than Dixon.
7. Bob Huggins – West Virginia
A legendary coach with his star starting to fade.
6. Mark Adams – Texas Tech
A great coach that will have to live under Chris Beard’s shadow for another season of two. We’ll really learn about Adams in year 3 and 4.
5. Porter Moser – Oklahoma
We are only two years removed from Moser’s dream tournament run at Loyola-Chicago.
4. T.J Otzelberger – Iowa State
Otzelberger at #4 is a great example of why there is the disclaimer at the beginning of this article. If ranking coaches by who Athletic Directors would desire at their school, Otzelberger got a lot of attention with what he did in year one for the Cyclones.
3. Chris Beard – Texas
Beard performed magic at Texas Tech. The Longhorns hope with their resources he can be David Copperfield.
2. Scott Drew – Baylor
Drew is a top 10 coach in the country. The only reason he’s not number one is because he coaches in the same league as Bill Self.
1. Bill Self – Kansas
The undisputed patriarch of the conference.Baylor Basketball, Bill Self, Bob Huggins, Chris Beard, college basketball, Iowa State Basketball, Jamie Dixon, Jerome Tang, Kansas Basketball, Kansas State Basketball, Mark Adams, Mike Boynton, Oklahoma Basketball, Oklahoma State Basketball, Porter Moser, Scott Drew, T.J. Otzelberger, TCU Basketball, Texas Basketball, Texas Tech Basketball, West Virginia Basketball
Some top tier coaching has recently retired, so there is a new crop leading this conference’s rankings.
Our 2022-23 ACC Basketball Coach rankings.
15. Earl Grant – Boston College
Grant finished 11th in the conference in his first season at BC.
14. Jeff Capel – Pittsburgh
Heading into his 5th try, Capel is still looking for his first winning season at Pitt.
13. Josh Pastner – Georgia Tech
It was rough last season for Pastner and Georgia Tech that put him under .500 for his career leading the Yellow Jackets.
12. Kevin Keatts – NC State
Last season was Keatts’ first losing season at NC State. Is it a trend or a blip?
11. Kenny Payne – Louisville
Payne has had an impressive assistant coaching career. We’ll see how that translates to his head coaching career.
10. Jon Scheyer – Duke
This is going to be a short leash for Scheyer following Mike Krzyzewski’ at Duke.
9. Brad Brownell – Clemson
Brownell has been at Clemson for 12 season and middle-of-the-pack in the ACC is the expectation.
8. Mike Young – Virginia Tech
Young has lead Virginia Tech to the NCAA tournament the past two seasons.
7. Steve Forbes – Wake Forest
Forbes lead Wake Forest to 25-10 last season and probably should have been an NCAA tournament team.
6. Jim Larrañaga – Miami
Maybe Larranaga has one more run in him after an Elite Eight appearance last season.
5. Leonard Hamilton – Florida State
If these rankings were based on looking much younger than your age, the 74 year old Hamilton would top this list. He’s been a consistent winner at FSU.
4. Hubert Davis – North Carolina
It can’t be easy taking over for a legend. Davis aced his first test with national championship game appearance in season number one.
3. Jim Boeheim – Syracuse
It’s been a hall of fame career, but Boeheim hasn’t finished higher than 6th in the conference since the 2013-14 season.
2. Tony Bennett – Virginia
There aren’t many schools in the country that wouldn’t trade their current coach for Tony Bennett.
1. Mike Brey – Notre Dame
Notre Dame isn’t an easy school to recruit basketball talent, yet Brey has consistently produced teams competing for ACC Championships for over 20 seasons.Boston College Basketball, Brad Brownell, Clemson Basketball, college basketball, Duke Basketball, Earl Grant, Florida State Basketball, Georgia Tech Basketball, Hubert Davis, Jeff Capel III, Jim Boeheim, Jim Larrañaga, Jon Scheyer, Josh Pastner, Kenny Payne, Kevin Keatts, Leonard Hamilton, Louisville Basketball, Miami Basketball, Mike Brey, Mike Young, NC State Basketball, North Carolina Basketball, Notre Dame Basketball, Pittsburgh Basketball, Steve Forbes, Syracuse Basketball, Tony Bennett, Virginia Basketball, Virginia Tech Basketball, Wake Forest Basketball
The Pac-12 is surprisingly more stable for basketball coaches than other conferences. Let’s take a look a look at all 12 from worst to first.
Our 2022-23 Pac-12 Basketball Coach rankings.
12. Mark Fox – Cal
Heading into his 4th season leading Cal, Fox is looking for his first winning season.
11. Kyle Smith – Washington State
Maybe things are improving for Smith at WSU. They finished 5th in the conference last season after being near the bottom of conference standings his first two seasons.
10. Mike Hopkins – Washington
We thought he’d be near the top of this list after winning the conference regular season in just his second season leading Washington (2018-19)
9. Bobby Hurley – Arizona State
Things seemed to be well for ASU and Hurley in 2020, but the last two seasons show signs of regression.
8. Wayne Tinkle – Oregon State
Tinkle might be the hardest coach to rank. He followed an Elite Eight appearance in 2020-21 with a 3-28 season in 2021-22.
7. Tommy Lloyd – Arizona
Lloyd had an impressive first season at Arizona. He’ll move up these rankings quickly if he can sustain that level of success.
6. Jerod Haase – Stanford
Stanford is a tough school to win at and Haase has produced a better than .500 record (98-90)
5. Craig Smith – Utah
His first year at Utah wasn’t great (11-20), but he belongs in the top half of Pac-12 coach rankings. He’ll have Utah playing at a high level soon.
4. Tad Boyle – Colorado
Because Colorado hasn’t made much noise in the NCAA tournament, Boyle’s regular season success at Colorado is often overlooked.
3. Andy Enfield – USC
After a rough first two seasons at USC (23-41), Enfield has turned USC into a consistent winner.
2. Dana Altman – Oregon
It’s hard to believe this will be Altman’s 13th season leading the Ducks. He’s 300-125 over his first 12 seasons.
1. Mick Cronin – UCLA
Cronin seemed like an off fit at UCLA following a successful run at Cincinnati. But, he’s quickly elevated the Bruins in his three seasons.Andy Enfield, Arizona Basketball, Arizona State Basketball, Bobby Hurley, California Basketball, college basketball, Colorado Basketball, Craig Smith, Dana Altman, Jerod Haase, Kyle Smith, Mark Fox, Mick Cronin, Mike Hopkins, Oregon Basketball, Oregon State Basketball, Stanford Basketball, Tad Boyle, Tommy Lloyd, UCLA Basketball, USC Basketball, Utah Basketball, Washington Basketball, Washington State Basketball, Wayne Tinkle
There’s a lot of new faces in the SEC this season. And there remains a lot of solid coaches in this league. There isn’t a weak link in the bunch.
Our 2022-23 SEC Basketball Coach rankings.
14. Jerry Stackhouse – Vanderbilt
Things improved for Stackhouse and Vanderbilt last season, but we still anticipate Vanderbilt to be near the bottom of the SEC standings this season.
13. Todd Golden – Florida
This was an interesting hire by Florida. There isn’t yet much of a coaching track record for Golden.
12. Matt McMahon – LSU
McMahon has a tall task cleaning up the mess left behind by Will Wade.
11. Kermit Davis – Mississippi
Things have regressed for Mississippi under Davis since his first season in 2018. His seat is warm.
10. Dennis Gates – Missouri
We anticipate Gates will quickly upgrade the talent at Missouri. Will it bring wins to Missouri?
9. Lamont Paris – South Carolina
Paris took Chattanooga to the big dance and expect him to quickly do the same at South Carolina.
8. Chris Jans – Mississippi State
We think Jans was a great hire by Mississippi State. He won a lot of games at New Mexico State, but this is his first run as head coach in a major conference.
7. Mike White – Georgia
White produced solid results at Florida. His job gets a lot tough at Georgia.
6. Buzz Williams – Texas A&M
Williams will always have his teams competitive. He is middle-of-the-pack because he hasn’t been able to make any noise in the NCAA tournament since his days at Marquette.
5. Nate Oats – Alabama
Oats had a heck of run at Buffalo and his successful system has produced wins at Alabama.
4. Eric Musselman – Arkansas
Musselman already has 2 Elite Eight appearances at Arkansas in 3 seasons. His first season included a cancelled NCAA tournament due to Covid. He is moving up this list fast.
3. John Calipari – Kentucky
Calipari was once the king of the SEC. Still produces solid results, but recent seasons have been inconsistent.
2. Bruce Pearl – Auburn
You don’t have to worry about wins with a Pearl lead team. The off-the-court issues are another thing. You take the good with the bad.
1. Rick Barnes – Tennessee
Barnes gets it done over and over. He has Tennessee as one of the top teams in the country. His programs stay out of trouble unlike some of his conference peers.Alabama Basketball, Arkansas Basketball, Auburn Basketball, Bruce Pearl, Buzz Williams, Chris Jans, college basketball, Dennis Gates, Eric Musselman, Florida Basketball, Georgia Basketball, Jerry Stackhouse, John Calipari, Kentucky Basketball, Kermit Davis, Lamont Paris, LSU Basketball, Matt McMahon, Mike White, Mississippi State Basketball, Missouri Basketball, Nate Oats, Ole Miss Basketball, Rankings, Rick Barnes, SEC, South Carolina Basketball, Tennessee Basketball, Texas A&M Basketball, Todd Golden, Vanderbilt Basketball
Which Coach Boosted Their Stock After Week 2? Which Coach Felt Their Seat Get Hotter?
We used to give college football coaches years to determine if they had what it takes. Now, we make drastic judgements on a weekly basis. Which coaches had the best Week 2 and which fell flat?
Scott Frost, a regular on the stock down list, was fired after their loss to Georgia Southern at home. No need to pick on Frost any longer. There are plenty of other candidates to replace Frost on this list.
Jimbo Fisher – Texas A&M
At some point Fisher is going to need the off-the-field success to turn into on-the-field success. Losing to Appalachian State will make Aggie boosters lose patience quickly.
Marcus Freeman – Notre Dame
The honeymoon for Notre Dame is over. Freeman needs to show quickly that this is only a rough start and not the start of a downfall.
Paul Chryst – Wisconsin
That was a bad loss for Wisconsin. Cracks are starting to appear in the Wisconsin program under Chryst.
Eli Drinkwitz – Missouri
There was nothing good to take away from Missouri’s beating against Kansas State.
Steve Sarkisian – Texas
This is somewhat an indictment on how far the standard at Texas has fallen. But, going toe-to-toe with Alabama is impressive and a step in the right direction for Sarkisian and Texas.
Kalani Sitake – BYU
Another impressive and under-the-radar win for Sitake and BYU. He just produces solid teams and wins. He’ll be getting calls from other programs this year and likely a pay raise.
Mark Stoops – Kentucky
An impressive win for Stoops and Kentucky at Florida. What he’s accomplished at Kentucky is underappreciated. Some Athletic Director would be wise to throw a $9 million/year salary his way.
Jake Dickert – Washington State
Dickert aced his first major test with a win at Wisconsin. That’s the kind of win that will get Athletic Directors’ attention.
Charles Huff – Marshall
That win at Notre Dame, combined with even a decent season, could be enough to land Huff a large pay raise at another school.BYU Football, Charles Huff, College Football, Eliah Drinkwitz, featured, Jake Dickert, Jimbo Fisher, Kalani Sitake, Kentucky Football, Marcus Freeman, Mark Stoops, Marshall Football, Missouri Football, Nebraska Football, Notre Dame Football, Paul Chryst, Scott Frost, Steve Sarkisian, Texas A&M Football, Texas Football, Washington State Football, Wisconsin Football
Which assistants are most primed for a head coaching position after the 2022 season?
Josh Gattis – Miami Offensive Coordinator
Gattis was hired away from Michigan after being awarded the Broyles Award in 2021 as the top assistant in college football. With even decent success at Miami, Gattis will likely be in line for a top job opening after this season.
Jeff Lebby – Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator
When Oklahoma hired Brent Venables, a defensive minded coach, to replace Lincoln Riley, a top flight offensive coordinator was a priority. Oklahoma found it with Lebby. Many Athletic Directors are looking for a young offensive mind and Lebby fits that bill.
Bill O’Brien – Alabama Offensive Coordinator
It’s a surprise that O’Brien isn’t the head coach of a team this season. He will likely be a head coach in 2023. There are many rumors that O’Brien has his eye on the NFL.
Alex Grinch – USC Defensive Coordinator
Grinch has shown that he can improve a defense at both Washington State and Oklahoma. If Grinch can show that improvement again at USC, he will likely be requested to interview for head coaching positions soon.
Jim Leonhard – Wisconsin Defensive Coordinator
Leonhard has proven himself as an elite defensive coordinator and is ready to be a head coach. He reportedly turned down an opportunity to lead the defense for the Green Bay Packers. It’s possible he remains in Wisconsin waiting for a shot to become the head coach for the Badgers.
This season’s college football playoffs will begin with two semifinal games on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2022. The College Football National Championship will take place on January 9, 2023.
College Football Semifinals
Fiesta Bowl – December 31, 2022 – 4pm or 8pm ET – ESPN
Peach Bowl – December 31, 2022 – 4pm or 8pm ET – ESPN
National Championship Game
January 9, 2023 – ESPN – Time TBD
SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
Frequently Asked Questions
When will the College Football Playoff teams be selected?
Soon after the conference championship games in early December
Where will future National Championship games be held?
2023: Los Angeles
Who are previous winners of the College Football National Championship Game?
2022 No. 3 Georgia 33, No. 1 Alabama 18
2021 No. 1 Alabama 52, No. 3 Ohio State 24
2020 No. 1 LSU 42, No. 3 Clemson 25
2019 No. 2 Clemson 44, No. 1 Alabama 16
2018 No. 4 Alabama 26, No. 3 Georgia 23
2017 No. 2 Clemson 35, No. 1 Alabama 31
2016 No. 2 Alabama 45, No. 1 Clemson 40
2015 No. 4 Ohio State 42, No. 2 Oregon 20
This summer there were rumors that Nick Saban would look to retire from Alabama in the next 1-2 years. That was before Saban signed an extension through 2030 with an average yearly salary of $11.7 million. Now, we don’t believe Saban will coach forever. But, if there is one person in college football that would make you wonder if he’ll be coaching for eternity, it would be Saban. Even at the age of 70, he doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
This article was better timed prior to the contractor extension, but let’s play out the hypothetical anyway — Who will replace Saban at Alabama once he decides to retire?
Kirby Smart – Georgia head coach
Smart will be the first name on any Saban replacement list. He’s a former Alabama assistant that has things rolling at Georgia. We just don’t see the benefit for Smart to leave what he’s built at Georgia and deal with the pressure that comes from taking over for a legend in Saban. Georgia would likely match whatever Alabama would throw at Smart.
Urban Meyer – Free Agent
We all believe Meyer will be back in college football soon. If the timing worked out, Meyer and Alabama may be the perfect fit.A
Mark Stoops – Kentucky head coach
It’s admirable what Stoops has accomplished at Kentucky. He could accomplish at Alabama what he likely can’t at Kentucky — win a National Championship. Stoops would go from under the radar at Kentucky to a pressure cooker at Alabama.
James Franklin – Penn State head coach
Franklin has flirted with other job openings before. Franklin and Alabama would be an interesting pair.
Dave Aranda – Baylor head coach
Aranda was previously the defensive coordinator for LSU and familiar with the SEC. Aranda has quickly made a name as a top 15-20 coach in college football. Would that be enough to appease Alabama leadership and boosters?
Alabama Assistant Coach
Saban will have a big say in his replacement. Would he recommend someone from his staff? Would Alabama leadership be willing to consider an assistant?
Nick Saban – 7 Championships
LSU – 2003
Alabama – 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017 and 2020
Bear Bryant – 6 Championships
Alabama – 1961, 1964, 1965, 1973, 1978 and 1979
Bernie Bierman – 5 Championships
Minnesota – 1934, 1935, 1936, 1940 and 1941
Woody Hayes – 5 Championships
Ohio State – 1954, 1957, 1961, 1968 and 1970
Frank Leahy – 4 Championships
Notre Dame – 1943, 1946, 1947 and 1949
John McKay – 4 Championships
USC – 1962, 1967, 1972 and 1974
Tom Osborne – 3 Championships
Nebraska – 1994, 1995 and 1997
Howard Jones – 3 Championships
USC – 1928, 1931, 1932
Walter Camp – 3 Championships
Yale – 1888, 1891 and 1892
Urban Meyer – 3 Championships
Florida – 2006, 2008
Ohio State – 2014
Knute Rockne – 3 Championships
Notre Dame – 1924, 1929 and 1930
Darrel Royal – 3 Championships
Texas – 1963, 1969 and 1970
Barry Switzer – 3 Championships
Oklahoma – 1974, 1975 and 1985
Pop Warner – 3 Championships
Pittsburgh – 1916 and 1918
Stanford – 1926
Bud Wilkinson – 3 Championships
Oklahoma – 1950, 1955 and 1956