Mark Turgeon and Maryland mutually agreed to sever ties on Friday, opening up one of the 20 best jobs in college basketball. Terrapins assistant coach Danny Manning is taking over as the interim coach. He has experience, given he coached at Wake Forest from 2014-20. If Maryland can drastically turn things around under Manning, perhaps he’d be considered for the job full-time. But of course the school will thoroughly search for candidates across the country.
There’s no telling who is actually a viable candidate right now; the split happened on Friday and these things will take a little time, even behind the scenes.
But if I were Maryland athletic director Damon Evans, this is an initial list of potential candidates I’d be considering to start with. In no particular order …
John Beilein, Detroit Pistons executive: Hard for me to see this happening, but have to mention him because he’s the best “available” coach of anyone Maryland could potentially land. Beilein’s 68 but he has had tremendous success at the college level (754 career wins, two Final Fours) and in the Big Ten, of course, at Michigan. I don’t think he’ll return to college coaching and I don’t think he’d be excited to go back to the Big Ten and coach against Michigan. But if I’m Maryland, obviously I’m lobbing a phone call. Because you never know.
Mark Schmidt, St. Bonaventure coach: Fans of the Bonnies have adored Schmidt for years, and rightfully so. At this stage he should be considered the best Bona coach ever. He’s got a team that was ranked in the AP poll, something that hadn’t been done at that school in 50 years. Schmidt has been passed over for a few high-major jobs in recent years, but he’s owed the opportunity at this point. You could do much worse, that’s for sure. Schmidt has 330 wins to his name, the most of any active coach on this list.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall coach: Willard has been at Seton Hall since 2010 and has accumulated a 210-150 record with the Pirates. Willard’s led SHU to the NCAA Tournament four times, though he’s never made the Sweet 16. Turgeon only got that far once, and it was a sticking point with most of the fan base. But Willard’s built for the Maryland job, that I can tell you. I wouldn’t fault him at all if he was looking for a change of scenery at this point, even with a stable program in South Orange, New Jersey.
Ed Cooley, Providence coach: Cooley has the disposition and track record of success in a major conference to validate himself as a candidate. Few people are more wired to handle the pressures of a job like this than Cooley. The Friars are 201-136 since 2011 under Cooley, with five trips to the NCAA Tournament. The Providence native could well be a PC lifer, but it would be hard to turn down an opportunity, should Maryland pursue him.
Andy Enfield, USC coach: Out of left field? Maybe not so much. Enfield is from the area, has a graduate degree from Maryland, has made the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament with two schools (FGCU, USC) and has another NCAA Tournament-level team this season after making the Elite Eight last season. I don’t know if he’d want to leave living in southern Cali, but he’s familiar with the region and has won 60% of his games as a power-conference coach. A fun dark horse candidate here.
Mark Pope, BYU coach: If Pope wants a bigger job, he’s going to eventually get one. BYU is 50-16 since he took over. The Cougars would’ve easily made the 2020 NCAA Tournament if there was one. Last season BYU went 20-7 and lost to UCLA which went on to the Final Four. Pope has tremendous energy and played at Kentucky, so he understands the nature of being involved at a huge basketball school. Hiring him would ignite the fanbase, no question.
Kim English, George Mason coach: By far the youngest of the group. English is merely 4-4 to this point in his first head-coaching go of it at George Mason, but one of those wins came at Maryland this season. English is also from the area. He’s almost certainly going to be coaching in a power conference … someday. I’d consider him a long-shot candidate at this stage, but he’s a coach with a very bright future ahead.