WSU Basketball: 5 NCAA Tournament and NIT Coaches to Keep an Eye On as Bill Moos Searches for Winners

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Mar 12, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington State Cougars head coach Ken Bone instructs against the Stanford Cardinal during the first half in the first round of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Moos did the ‘easy’ part yesterday, telling Ken Bone he’s being replaced as head man of the Washington State Cougars. Now the hard part has begun.

A couple of comments from Moos yesterday stood out to me as he goes about reeling in the catch of the next five years at a University that was just starting to get used to success before a torrential downpour of bad basketball has befallen it.

- … at this point we need to revitalize our fan base, particularly our student body, and position this program to compete for championships…

– We will begin the process of naming the next head coach immediately,” said Moos. “I will not be discussing details of the hiring process, only that I expect to name the new coach as soon as possible…

– I’m in the process of trying to line up phone conversations, just to gauge their interest…

He also brought up Ernie Kent as a guy who would have passion for WSU like he did for Oregon and a potential candidate if he were interested in talking. Then he brought up Ben Howland as someone who would be a “great resource for me to get a feel for who is out there that would be a great fit (at WSU)”.

Couple things I take out of all that:

1) To revitalize this fan base it will take an exciting man at the helm coming in, someone who is currently burning the trails of success at his school to the postseason and someone who brings a character to the court nightly. It’s all about butts in the seats! If nothing else, entertainment is the name of the game as a coach and while Ken Bone was intense in his own way, he didn’t excel at that skill-set. Well, except this one time

2) The other obvious option would be somebody who’s been in the Pac-12 before and knows a thing or two about coaching and recruiting in the conference. Of course Kent and Howland both fit that profile, or perhaps a guy like Kevin O’neill who guided both Arizona and USC for a time.

Yes, the former two had far more success in-conference overall but O’Neill has an extensive background in head coaching in college (Northwestern, Marquette and Tennessee) to fall back on as well. Also, in the end, they all got the boot from there respective schools.

But to the more direct point, even though any of those guys could generate some buzz, a current coach who is overachieving at a smaller school is going to probably get the most positive reception overall by the student-body, a la Andy Enfield this season at USC or Steve Alford at UCLA.

I still really, really like Howland as a long-term replacement if that were even possible. Moos perhaps has already talked to Howland, because he really thinks the former Pitt and UCLA coach is looking for something more prestigious as a position, and he could probably get whatever it is he wants in that category.

3) The whole “I’m trying to set up calls to gauge interest” bit strikes me as a direct statement towards the fact that he cannot offer the job right now to the guys he’s calling. Part of it is also that he may get a list of his own options to choose from before extending an offer, but mostly I just don’t think it’s possible because the guys he wants are in postseason play through at least this weekend.

4) Finally, Moos really wants a guy who will bring with him the ability to recruit, not just the West, but all over the country. That’s why these names I’m about to bring up to you make sense in more ways than maybe you’ll realize.

Let’s take a quick look at a couple guys in postseason play that I would think Moos might consider calling. (If you’re looking for some more “realistic” candidates, which I don’t think Moos is outside of a Leon Rice who may have already turned down any offer due to facility concerns, take a look at our top 10 list of logical replacements). On to the choices:

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