It's official: Chuck Driesell is gone to The Citadel. He leaves behind him an extremely inexperienced staff without a recruiting coordinator. So where should Gary look from here?
Driesell's replacement would ideally have experience and local ties to the area. Maryland's current staff is extremely young and inexperienced, so Maryland should certainly look for the opportunity to add some experience in the way of a tenured, respected coach. It's also vital for a recruiting coordinator to know his way around a living room (read: be a good recruiter) and have ties to the area - think about what Chicago-area HS coaches said after DePaul hired "outsider" Oliver Purnell. With those goals in mind, let's outline some potential candidates, or at least categories:
- Rob Ehsan, current assistant/Joe Harrington, current psuedo-assistant - Ehsan is everyone's favorite assistant coach, for a variety of reasons: he's young, he's energetic, he's personable, and he's a great recruiter. I'm not in love with giving him the recruiting coordinator job, however, because that's almost like taking him out of his best role and giving him a role that he has no experience in. I know he'll have to get it at some point, but would Gary want to put his best in-person recruiter in a position where he has to watch a ton of film? Then again, Ehsan appears to be in the Josh Pastner mold, so it might not be such a bad idea after all. If Ehsan moved over to RC, then current semi-assistant Joe Harrington could take an official role and become a full-time assistant.
- Dino Gaudio, former Wake Forest HC - Gaudio's not much to look at when it comes to gameday, but the man is a heck of a recruiter. When you consider that recruiting was Driesell's main duty, Gaudio makes perfect sense. He's yet to find a new place to call home, and Maryland would be a nice temporary destination to reel in a few big time recruits. The negatives abound, however: he'd be expensive, probably wouldn't jibe with Gary's personality, and would likely be out of town one way or the other relatively quickly.
- Billy Hahn, current West Virginia HC - You may remember Hahn as the former Maryland assistant that recruited Walt Williams, Joe Smith, and Steve Francis. After finding a ton of success with Gary Williams at Maryland, he moved onto La Salle, where scandal wrecked the program. Forced out, he took a break from coaching before ending up at West Virginia with Bob Huggins. Still a respected, experienced recruiter and coach, Hahn might have interest in returning to his alma mater where he first built his legend. I wouldn't count on him leaving a good thing at West Virginia, but keep your eye on it.
- Orlando "Bino" Ranson, current Xavier assistant - Ranson might be the most sensible of the potential hires listed here. A former assistant for JMU and Loyola (MD), Ranson has connections in the area and grew up in Baltimore. His presence in Charm City isn't hard to see when you look at his targets for Xavier: in 2010 he landed Baltimore big man Jordan Latham and was the lead guy on Will Barton and Victor Oladipo, and in 2011 he's heading the recruitments of Mikael Hopkins, Durand Johnson, and Greg Lewis. Even though he's been tucked away in Cincinnati for awhile, he would bring connections to the region and has a decent amount of experience.
- A Potential HCIW - Though it's highly unlikely that Maryland would officially name anyone Head Coach in Waiting, this is a chance for Gary Williams and Debbie Yow to find a sort of HCIW candidate, a big name that can get set in the area for the next couple of years. Think Russ Springmann, a Maryland native that currently coaches at Texas, or someone of the like.
- Former Maryland Coach or Player - These tend to get the fuzziest of warm, fuzzy feelings. For the first half, it would probably require something unexpected to happen: would Jimmy Patsos or Mike Lonergan, both of whom coached at Maryland and now head mid-major programs, leave their respective gigs to return to Maryland? That's extremely doubtful, even if they do afford Maryland some much-needed experience. The opposite end of the spectrum is the former player route, like adding Juan Dixon or Matt Hahn. Both would offer next to nothing in terms of experience (although Hahn is a current assistant at Vermont), which is problematic. It would be nice to see them return to the program, but it might not be the best possible thing for the program.
- Local High School Coach - Talk about local connections. Imagine DeMatha's head man Mike Jones or Montrose HC Stu Vetter joining the Maryland staff. Obviously there are financial issues there, but even a "lesser" coach would still bring in a ton of local connections without a lot of work in getting acclimated to the area. Not sure about the lack of experience, of course.
- Other Local College Assistant - Probably the most likely of hires is the little-known local (or non-local) assistant - think Chris Caputo at George Mason, Brian Ellerbe at George Washington, Jamal Brunt at Richmond, or attempting a steal of James Johnson at Virginia Tech. All of these guys are good recruiters and already have connections to the area.
That's my list. Any preferences?