Why not Summitt?
The best option to take over the Tennessee men's basketball program to replace the fired Bruce Pearl actually would be women's coach Pat Summitt, but why would she want to leave the security of her job for this shaky one?
In reality, the Volunteers will want to look for a young coach who has a history of winning, can recruit well and energize a fan base that was deflated by the firing of Pearl.
The names of Richmond's Chris Mooney and VCU's Shaka Smart will be tossed around, but the Vols need someone a little more proven to continue their streak of NCAA tournament appearances. The best choice might be Baylor's Scott Drew. Only 40, he's known as a strong recruiter, which will be essential in keeping Tennessee from slipping backward after Pearl's departure.
Make a Smart choice
Los Angeles Times
The bandwagon is rolling past — on its way to the Sweet 16 — so Tennessee had better be smart and jump on.
Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart has Southeastern Conference savvy, having been an assistant under Florida's Billy Donovan. He showed recruiting skills at Florida and Clemson. He has that mid-major coach cred, with Purdue, Georgetown and USC in his NCAA tournament wake. VCU's two-year contract extension won't be enough to keep him if the big fellas, like Tennessee, come calling.
As for the outgoing Bruce Pearl, El Paso awaits. UTEP is the rehabilitation center for coaches — Mike Price, Tim Floyd.
A Byrd in hand
Far be it from a keyboard jockey to offer professional advice to a man whose recent track record includes the Lane Kiffin Experiment and who chose to throw his water-treading basketball coach a cinder block on the eve of the NCAA tournament.
As a personnel and public relations whiz, Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton is a darn fine fundraiser. That said, this is low-hanging fruit. Belmont's Rick Byrd has won 518 games in 25 years at the Nashville school. Four NCAAs in the last six years. UT grad (Class of '76). Grew up in Knoxville. His teams score a bunch of points and shoot a ton of 3s.
He's not the hot, young assistant, or the NCAA tournament flavor of the month. He's a native son, with a track record.
You're welcome. Happy to help.
Butler's Stevens ideal
If I were the Volunteers I'd be chasing Butler coach Brad Stevens with fury.
The job Stevens has done at Butler, leading it to the title game last year and into the Sweet 16 this season, is simply phenomenal — and at a school that should not be performing at this level in consecutive years. If he had Tennessee's recruiting resources the Vols could be a Final Four contender almost every year.
It's not likely they will get him, though. Stevens signed a big contract extension with Butler last year, and his buyout is likely more than Tennessee will be willing to pay. Look for the Vols to scour the other mid-majors, especially in the south. Belmont coach Rick Byrd, a Tennessee grad, could be a possibility.