So as you all well know, Garry Parrish of CBS said Jamie Dixon is "considering" the TCU job. Now do I really think Dixon will leave for a bottom-feeder Big 12 job? Not really. Still, there are reasons why he could take that plunge. Mainly, Pitt fans and expectations have kind of gone haywire lately. No matter if Dixon makes the Sweet 16 or makes the NIT next year, a vocal portion of the fan base and local media will criticism him equally. So in essence, it's a lose-lose situation for him. Obviously that can grow tiring for a coach. Another reason for him to leave would be that Dixon played his college basketball at TCU, so the alma mater factor can definitely play a role.
As some of you may know that have followed the website for a while, my stance has always been, "I like Jamie Dixon, but I like Pitt more." I'll always want what is best for Pitt. Now you may also know, I don't value Pitt to be an elite job. There's been a gigantic sample size to suggest that is not one. Dixon has been far and away the school's best coach and has taken them to levels of relevance no other coach was ever able to do. He's won a lot of games, made a lot of tournaments, and has always run a clean program that has never embarrassed the university.
So before I start to rant (too much), I think Jamie Dixon is a good coach, and one that can still definitely turn things around here. Still, as I mentioned above the fan base has come to a point where they simply aren't satisfied with just about anything he does. The program is obviously not where it was in 2002-2011, but it's still much better than generally the vast majority of years before he got here. We all got a taste of what it was like to be really good, and we want more of it - understandably so.
Now I am not saying everyone is standing with pitchforks outside of Dixon's house, heck I would still venture to guess Dixon has the approval of many Pitt fans out there. Again, many remember what life was like before Ben Howland got here, and they actually like making the tournament most years. It's fair to think that way. We as Pitt fans have accepted far worse seasons than this from the football team if you really think about it.
So to wrap up the back story, Pitt can hire a fantastic coach and the good life of 2008 can return. They can hire a bad coach, and the years of Ralph Willard can return. They can retain Dixon and the past few years trend continues, or he can get back to being the type of coach that won national coach of the year awards. Four outcomes, and they all seem viable to me.
So in the event Dixon leaves,meaning this off-season - here are some names I picked to be his hypothetical coaching replacement.
Sean Miller - Ah yes, the man himself. It wouldn't be nearly as fun if I started with anyone else. Sean Miller is the native son of Pittsbugh. He played for his dad, a legendary high school coach at Blackhawk High School, and then went on to star at Pitt as a point guard. We all know the story. He is the dream of all dream candidates.
Miller can recruit and he can coach. Somewhere in the past 4-5 years, he passed up Jamie Dixon as the top coach to never take his team to the Final Four. Still, Miller recruits at a high level, wins conference championships, and has been to 4 Elite 8's in his 12 year career split at Xavier and Arizona.
Will he come to Pitt? I wouldn't count on it. I mean, Pitt is a step down from Arizona. He really has a good gig out there, but like Dixon it would be returning to his alma-mater. So the hope would have to start there. Unlike Dixon, coming to Pitt would not just be his alma-mater but also it would be returning to his actual hometown. The "rumors" of him wanting to come back to the East Coast are out there. Pitt would have to shell out some serious dough here. It's just not going to happen.
Archie Miller - If not Sean, why not his little brother? That line of thinking is around for some Pitt fans, because most know Sean Miller coming to Pitt is highly unlikely. Archie Miller is a good coach for sure, and he obviously has the area connections. He is not a Pitt alum, but that's not a huge problem.
Miller has been the head man at Dayton for five seasons, and has made the past three NCAA Tournaments. His breakout year was 2014 when the Flyers made an improbable run to the Elite 8. He won one game in the tournament last season, before Syracuse handling them in the first round this season.
Miller isn't some sort of lock to Pitt. Dayton is a solid non-power five job. They are up there in attendance and and he just got a pay raise last season. He has a nice gig and would probably need to be really wowed to leave, as some suspect he has his eyes on a really elite job.
Kevin Willard - Kevin Willard is a Pitt alum that currently coaches Seton Hall. Willard guided the Pirates to one of their better season in recent memory, as they finished 25-9. It was an early exit in the NCAA Tournament, but Seton Hall won 8 out of 9 games down the stretch including beating Xavier and Villanova in the Big East Tournament en route to their first Conference Tournament championship since 1993.
Willard served as an assistant under Rick Pitino at Louisville, and has a strong recruiting background. He has delivered some impressive players to Seton Hall, including five-star guard Isaiah Whitehead out of Brooklyn. Hiring Willard would likely mean a return to recruiting heavily in New York and New Jersey, a former staple of this program. Now the downfall here is, Willard hasn't been overly successful beyond this season. Only one tournament appearance in nine years split between Seton Hall and Iona.
Chris Mack - Chris Mack is the head man at Xavier, and he's a really good coach. Mack has won 68% of his games in with six tournament appearances in seven seasons. He is in the midst of his best coaching job ever, with the Musketeers a two seed and a legitimate final four contender. Outside of this year, he's been to three Sweet 16's, proving this is not a one hit wonder. He is a Xavier grad, so prying him away would be difficult and unlikely, but there's no doubt he would be a home run hire. It would just cost a whole lot.
Andy Enfield - Remember Dunk City? Well here is the mastermind. Enfield coached one of the more memorable Cinderella stories ever with the 2013 Florida Gulf Coast team that made the Sweet 16. He has since taken the USC job and in three years took them from a 14-18 team to a team that made the tournament in his third season.
So would Enfield come here? Possibly. Enfield is a Shippensburg, Pennsylvania native, so if there would be any reason to come to Pitt - it would be the connection to his home state. Although he lives in Los Angeles right now, so a Northeast winter may not be something misses at all. An intriguing name nonetheless.
Brad Underwood - Brad Underwood has been a head coach for three seasons, and he is sporting a cool 89-14 record. He is the hot mid-major name at the moment, and he's not a hot up and comer, but a veteran assistant that has paid his dues.
Underwood is not an East Coat guy by nature. He is from Kansas, and realistically he should be in contention along with Dixon to take the TCU job, or possibly the OKlahoma State job. I'm not sure he is a great fit, but he is a good coach. Howland was from Northern Arizona after all, so the whole "fit" thing can be overrated.
Tommy Amaker - Tommy Amaker has been a huge success coaching Harvard in the Ivy League. He guided the Crimson to four straight tournament berths from 2011 to 2015, before taking a step back this season. He has even recruited some solid recruits to play for him at Harvard, which is no doubt an easy task.
We can't forget, though, that he was not all that impressive as a power five coach. He took Seton Hall to a Sweet 16 back in 2000, but failed to make the tournament in his other years with the Pirates. He never did much of note at Michigan, but really carved a niche at the moment with Harvard. He's 50 years old, and probably will get another chance at a bigger job.
Ben Jacobsen - Jacobsen is the highly successful coach of the Northern Iowa Panthers. As the head man in Cedar Falls, he has led the Panthers to two Missouri Valley regular season titles, 4 conference tournament championships, and of course four trips to the Big Dance. He has been the coach of the year in his conference three times.
He is a Midwestern guy as a native of North Dakota and been involved with Northern Iowa since 2001, but there's no doubt he can coach. Worth looking into if it comes down to it.
Kevin Keatts - Keatts is a second year head coach coming off a great season at UNC WIlmington. His team played Duke very tough in the first round, but ultimately did come up short. It seems inevitable that he will get a big job down the line, but is he ready for one now?
Perhaps the best case for Keatts is that he is young at age 43, and has good recruiting connections. Prior to becoming the head man at UNC Wilmington, he was a Louisville assistant under Rick Pitino. He was on the staff for the Cardinals' national championship run in 2013.
Eran Ganot - Ganot is the first year head man at Hawaii, and took the Warriors to the second round almost immediately. He was a long time assistant at the successful Saint Mary's program in California. The potential connection to Pitt is that he is from New Jersey, and attended Swarthmore near Philadelphia for college. He could be motivated to leave being that Hawaii is on sanctions next year, and ineligible for the tournament.
Will Wade - The new head man at VCU, and he's an intriguing name. Wade is only 33 years old, and has only held the VCU job for a year. He took the Rams to the second round this season. He was a former VCU assistant, but had a brief stop at Chattanooga. If you took notice Chattanooga made the tournament this year, and he certainly helped shape that team. Is he ready for an ACC job? Maybe not quite yet. He is a Clemson graduate though, and may eventually eye a job in the league.
Joe Dooley - Dooley is now the current coach at Florida Gulf Coast. He lead the team to the NCAA Tournament this season before a first round loss to North Carolina. The thing with Dooley, he is not a first time head coach. He struggled in a stint at a young age with East Carolina. He worked his way back up through the ranks, including serving as assistant under Bill Self at Kansas for ten seasons. Dooley is a New Jersey native originally and attended prep power Saint Benedict's for High School many years ago. He likely has some strong recruiting connections after being on the staff at Kansas for ten seasons.
Jerod Haase - Haase is the current UAB coach, and has been there for four seasons. While they have made just one NCAA Tournament in his tenure, he guided the Blazers to a 26-7 campaign this year, following up a 20 win season last season. Haase was on Roy Williams' staff from 1999-2012, spanning stops at Kansas and North Carolina.
Will Brown - It's probably a stretch to go from the American East to the ACC. He's been the Head Coach at Albany forever, and he's still only 44 years old. He's won five conference tournaments, including three straight in 2013-2015. Unlike some of the other mid-major coaches I have mentioned, he has no experience coaching or recruiting at a big-time level. He is still a strong coach overall.
Matt McCall - Matt McCall walked into a good situation at Chattanooga and did not mess it up. The first time head coach had about as good of a start to a career as you can have with a 29-5 record and a tournament berth. He is just 33 years old, but spent five seasons as an assistant to Billy Donovan at Florida. He may not be quite ready to take on a job in the ACC, but down the line he will be.
Andy Toole - OK, why not at least mention him? The Robert Morris coach has had some good seasons across town. Toole has won 20+ games in four of his six seasons. He made the tournament one time, but his most notable win is beating Kentucky in the NIT. He's being monitored to take the next step above Robert Morris, but he may not be quite ready to take the leap to a place like Pitt.
At the end of the day, there are probably more names out there. I just picked some intriguing names, some that have connections to Pitt, and some totally off the wall. I'm sure if you wanted to dig around, you could find some more. I truly think Dixon will be the coach of the team next season and beyond when it all comes down to it. I just wanted to take a gander at some things to see what a coaching search would be like.