John Beilein heads to Cleveland
What a way to start a Monday. Just when it seemed like all was quiet on the College Basketball front, John Beilein makes a beeline (sorry not sorry) for the Cavaliers job. This isn’t exactly the most surprising move as Beilein flirted with the NBA last offseason before staying at Michigan.
There was an exodus of talent from the team following this season, not massively or cripplingly so, but big enough to make the decision easier. Not to mention the previous health issues Beilein has had plus the fact that he’s 66 years old. It seemed like a now or never moment and John took it.
He leaves Michigan as the greatest basketball coach in program history. He went 278-150, made the NCAA Tournament 9 times, and went to the Title game twice. Since the Fab Five and the controversial win in 1989, that is just about everything Michigan could have hoped for.
Obviously there is a huge gap to fill now in Ann Arbor and the market has just about settled in as the coaching carousel seemed to be over. There are quite a few guys out there that should be looked at, but the thing is this is a crucial hire for the Wolverines. A bad hire here and they can quickly fall down the totem pole in the Big Ten. Below are a few names I’ve heard thrown around and why they would or would not work out in Ann Arbor.
GQ Jay would be the ideal hire for Michigan, he fits the Beilein mantra and style, and is one of the best coaches in the entire country. Trying to get him away from Villanova will take a ton. He has a great gig, with a great group coming in, and is consistently competing for Big East titles. Michigan is certainly more appealing than UCLA, but it is still a longshot for the Wolverines.
A very interesting one because it is actually realistic. Donovan hasn’t been the huge success people thought he would be making the leap to the NBA and then was shown up by fellow College-to-Pro coach Brad Stevens shortly after Stevens took over in Boston. OKC seems to have hit their ceiling in a continuously improving Western Conference and getting back into the College game seems like it would be a good move for Donovan. He had tremendous success at Florida and would be entering an even bigger basketball conference in the Big Ten. If the timing is right, then we could see this deal close in the next two weeks.
The current Butler head man and former Beilein assistant is another solid candidate to look at. Poor Butler continues to have coaches taken by bigger schools but it is a testament to their program and success. The issue is Jordan is still a young coach. He’s only been at Butler for 2 seasons and has made an NIT and NCAA Tournament in those two years. Jordan is a Butler alum as well but you’d have to think if Michigan came calling the Michigan-native would make the move to Ann Arbor.
The defensive specialist of Beilein’s staff, Yaklich has done well and made a great name for himself around the country and especially in the Michigan program. He would provide continuity and a seamless transition for the Wolverines’ program.
Cooley has done an incredible job at Providence bringing them to new heights that the program had never seen before. He is a great recruiter and a very charismatic coach. Stylistically he has a different game plan but wouldn’t be the worst hire Michigan can make.
The replacement of Billy Donovan is now in the scope as well for Michigan. He is Donovan 2.0 in that they are the same guy. He has done a great job at Florida in an increasingly difficult SEC that has teams seemingly popping up to compete year in and year out. White would be another great culture fit at Michigan.
Willard was strongly linked to the Virginia Tech job earlier this offseason but ultimately decided to stay at Seton Hall. He has a similar style to what Beilein’s teams played at Michigan but there are questions if he can recruit at that higher level. Willard feels like a last resort option.