Okay, so just about the worst thing that could've happened just happened. Sean Miller is remaining in Tucson and has signed an extension. Dozens of Twitterers who would know said that Miller was almost certainly going to accept the job. It seemed nearly a foregone conclusion. Obviously, it wasn't, and there's no going back now.
Look, this sucks. I'm fully expecting a meltdown on the way. And the two Kevins have a lot of explaining to do about how everything got to this point. Did they low-ball him? Did they let him walk away without signing the contract (always a bad idea)? Did they just get straight-up duped?
Who knows. We may never know for sure. All I know for sure is that Kevin Anderson just screwed up his second straight major hire in the PR department. Sure, the actual hires could be fine, but as soon as you give the fans the perfect candidate, you damn well better reel him in.
But more on that later. For now, we need to look ahead to the immediate future. Maryland still has an open spot at the top of their premier program. Who's going to fill it?
Well, it's worth noting that this entire cluster**** has put the Terps in a bind. Some coaches might not care about it, but others will see the mess that this was and realize that they were Plan B and be turned off.
The logical thing at this point for me to do is make a list of potential replacements, because that's what I always do. The people on this list have been mentioned before as potential options or make a lot of sense as potential options, but considering what just happened I have no idea what their level of interest is at. Higher? Lower? Probably lower.
Maryland wasted a lot of time with this. If it drags on much longer, it'll have N.C. State-levels of LOL-ness. A quick way for a top 10 job to not get a top 10 candidate is for the search to become a joke, and another turned-down offer may lead to that. It's a reason you often see schools who miss on their first candidate jump to a Plan C or D right away. Look at Missouri - go for the home run with Painter, then end up with Haith. Speaking of plan D, let's start the potential replacements with...
Mike Brey, HC at Notre Dame: Brey was one of the first supposed contacts for Maryland, but he's been working toward a contract extension. The conventional wisdom is that Maryland is a much bigger job than Brey, and I tend to agree. But he is from DeMatha and did do a good job with Notre Dame last year. Unless the extension is already done, Brey would jump at this offer. He's safe, but he's not transforming this program into greatness.
Jay Wright, HC at Villanova: Wright was one of the early favorites and supposedly had interest. He makes sense; he's a great recruiter, is semi-local, and has done a good job at Nova. But CSN Philly said he isn't a candidate for the job. They didn't indicate if it was because he wasn't interested or because Maryland wasn't, though, and I think the latter is more likely than the former. His name will be a hot one.
Jamie Dixon, HC at Pitt: Supposedly not a candidate, so you can stop worrying about that one, too.
Brad Stevens, HC at Butler: Stevens was one of the guys who was supposed to be getting a phone call early on in the process. He's almost as good a hire as Miller on the surface. Pulling that off at this point would be a minor miracle and would at least restore my faith in Anderson having at least some semblance of competence. But given how messy this got (very quickly), would he be cool being an obvious #2? Probably not.
Mark Turgeon, HC at Texas A&M: A serious under-the-radar candidate. I really like him, myself. He's an above-average recruiter and has done well at a hard place to succeed. He's not a big name, but he's a darn good coach. only problem: he's a Midwest lifer.
Shaka Smart, HC at VCU: He's been mentioned as a possible replacement, but I'm not sure I buy it. He lucked out with one year, and otherwise would be a huge stretch. I'd prefer to see him get a lot more time under his belt before making the jump.
Rob Ehsan: Screw it, let's do this. The players love him, the recruits know him, and he's Gary's last protege. Give him a one-year contract and see what happens. E$ is my bet.
Well, here we go. Again.