Two weeks has passed since Ball State fired Head Men’s Basketball Coach Billy Taylor after 6 seasons and an unimpressive 84-97 record at the helm. In those two weeks, not much has leaked out as possible frontrunners for the job which Athletic Director Bill Scholl expected to be filled by Final Four time.
What we have all heard basically boils down to rumor and innuendo – but to pull everything together and give our take on who might be candidates – we decided to take a look at the names that have been thrown out by various media and publications along with our own, hand-picked, names that might have a shot.
So here we go:
First up on the list is current Michigan State Assistant Coach Dane Fife. Fife, who has spent the past few seasons gaining great experience under Tom Izzo, is an Indiana grad that played for the Hoosiers under both Bob Knight and Mike Davis. After his playing days ended, Fife quickly ascended the coaching ranks and found himself as the head Coach at Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne at the tender age of 25. Over Fife���s 6 seasons at the helm of the Mastodons, he steadily improved his team from 10 wins up to 18 wins in his final season. His run included 2 different conference affiliations and independent status. Fife has been the target of the most amount of speculation from the Cardinal fanbase and even the local media.
Next up is Florida Southern Head Coach Linc Darner. Darner, who hails from nearby Anderson, IN has posted a 156-65 so far in 7 seasons at the helm of Florida Southern, a Division 2 school. Darner, who played collegiately at Purdue under Gene Keady, currently has his squad in the NCAA DII Elite Eight. In a short time, Darner has had a lot of success, both at Florida Southern and as the head coach of St. Joseph’s (IN). Darner was successful at turning around both programs he has been head coach of – taking Florida Southern from 20 losses to 20 wins in a single seasn and taking St. Joe from records of 11-17 to 15-13 to 17-12 and ended up being 31-3in his final season there.
Also in the mix is current Southern Indiana Head Coach Rodney Watson. A former assistant at Southern Illinois for 21 years, he has made the most of his first attempt as a head coach, leading D2 powerhouse USI to a 95-24 record in four seasons. At Southern Illinois he learned the ropes under coaches such as Bruce Weber and Matt Painter.
Another D2 target may be University of Indianapolis Head Stan Gouard. In 5 seasons at the helm for the Greyhounds, Gouard has amassed an 80-61 record and has lead his team to three straight NCAA DII Tournaments. Gouard was a standout player at Southern Indiana and also an assistant at Indiana State and Indianapolis.
The final Division 2 name is Scott Davenport, the current Head Coach at Bellarmine. Davenport has been extremely successful at with the Knights including capturing the 2011 NCAA D2 National Champs. In his 11 seasons, Bellarmine’s program has become one of the top tier programs in Division 2, including extremely successful season in each of the past handful of seasons - 2008-09 they wen 26-7, 2009-10 23-9, 2010-11 33-2, 2011-12 29-4 and 2012-13 24-8. Davenport is a former assistant at Louisville under Denny Crum and Rick Pitino, and also served as an assistant at Virginia Commonwealth. Davenport was also a head coach at Louisville Ballard High School, where he was also highly successful.
Moving to the Division 1 ranks, a possibility is Jeff Neubauer, the current Head Coach at Eastern Kentucky. Neubauer has posted a 143-112 record at Eastern Kentucky in the tough Ohio Valley Conference. This past season, his team went 25-10 and advanced to the second round of the CIT. The 2012-13 season marked the 3rd time in 8 seasons that Neubauer guided his team to a post season tournament. Prior to his time with EKU, Neubauer was an assistant at West Virginia and Richmond.
A name with some definite local ties is Craig Neal, who currently serves on Steve Alford’s staff at New Mexico, Craig’s father, Stan, played for Ball State back in the 1960’s and Craig was actually born in Muncie. Craig went on to played at Washington (IN) High School for his father and at Georgia Tech. A former NBA Player and Scout, Neal has served on Alford’s past two staffs at Iowa and New Mexico, but has no Head Coaching experience.
Under the category of not likely, but not out of the question comes two names that have popped up recently:
Brad Brownell, current Head Coach at Clemson. The former Coach of UNC-Wilmington and Wright State is an Evansville native. He has had a slightly tumultuous tenure at Clemson and may be looking to move on before the axe falls. Brownell, despite diminishing returns at Clemson, was a very successful head man at the “mid-major” level and still owns an overall career record of 218-130 and has taken all three schools he has coached at to the NCAA Tournament.
Finally there is Seth Greenberg who is currently an ESPN analyst. Greenberg owns a career record of 367-276 over 22 seasons as a head coach. Greenberg was most recently at Virginia Tech where he compiled a 167-117 record in stops in the Big East and ACC. Greenberg led the Hokies to 6 postseason appearances in 8 years at the helm including a second round NCAA Tournament trip in 2006-07. Greenberg has just 2 losing seasons in his time at Virginia Tech including his final season in 2011-12 which ended with a 15-16 record. Greenberg also excelled at South Florida where he took a team that posted only 8 wins in his first season and quickly built it into a team that went to 2 postseason appearances. Prior to his time at USF, Greenberg also served as the head coach at Long Beach State, where he earned two trips to the NCAA Tournament and a spot in the NIT in 6 seasons.