Last week, Tim Curley probably wasn't expecting to have a men's basketball coaching search on his hands. Now that he does, let's take a look at a few potential candidates. This list, the first of what figures to be many, will be mainly constructed of big-name candidates who, for the reasons mentioned below, are unlikely to be in the mix.
Brad Stevens, Butler.--The dream scenario, the basketball equivalent of Cael Sanderson. The baby-faced 34-year-old who guided an Horizon League team to the NCAA final in each of the last two years merely has to wait for his dream job to open up. It's very doubtful Penn State is that dream job.
Bruce Pearl, formerly of Tennessee. --Pros: Charisma, recruiting chops, proven ability to win at a high level. Cons: The recent investigations into NCAA violations (which cost Pearl his job in Knoxville) don't mesh with Curley's image of what a Penn State coach should be.
Pat Flannery, former Bucknell coach. --A terrific basketball mind who can coach his players up, the 53-year-old Flannery retired in 2008 due to health reasons. The stress of the college game is a lot for most coaches to handle; Flannery might not want to expose himself to that kind of stress again, particularly at the Big Ten level.
Bob Knight, TV analyst, formerly of Indiana and Texas Tech. --Yes, he has Big Ten ties and yes, the thought of the winningest men's college basketball coach and the winningest college football coach on the same campus is an intriguing fantasy. But the reality is the 70-year-old Knight hasn't coached in more than three years and he has voiced no plans about returning to the game.
Fran Dunphy, Temple. --Dunphy got it done at Penn and appears to have the Owls going in the right direction again. He has deep recruiting roots in Philly, a cool game-day demeanor and is a class act. He had an interest in the Penn State job the last time it was open. However, Dunphy is already making between $650-700,000. If he's going to be lured away from a solid gig at Temple, it will likely require a substantial bump in pay.
Which is really the issue, isn't it? How much money is Penn State willing to offer the next coach? During the next few days, I'll take a look at some more candidates, those with less polished resumes but who could be far more likely to come to a school without much basketball tradition.