I hate to say "I told you so..."
Wait a minute. No, I don't. Way back when Anthony Grant was hired in 2009, I was one of the few on the community boards to vocally disagree with the hiring of Grant. And the Crimson Tide interwebz community ripped into me. Over the years, I have spoken out against him on this platform and I have been criticized for it. To me, Grant was hired based on one game.
"He beat Duke!" you cried. Yes, his VCU team beat a really bad overrated Duke team – probably one of Coach K's worst teams.
"Florida wanted to hire him!" you bellowed. Actually, they were rumored to be interested in interviewing him. I am not sure why that qualifies him.
"Wait until he gets rid of Gottfried's players and gets his horses in there," He did and nothing changed.
"Alright, smarty. What coach would you rather have hired?" you cross-examined. My answer in spring of 2009 was the guy who was making noise with an unheralded Butler team. That next season, Brad Stevens led the Bulldogs to the NCAA Championship Game while the Tide did not even make the NIT. Butler lost to Duke that year and returned to the Championship Game again the next season losing to UConn (side note: Butler beat Florida in the Elite 8 that year).
Now six years later, he is on track to another losing season with the Celtics and likely another missed playoff. The problem is that he is in the middle of a six-year $22 million contract and I don't think the Celtics are ready to give up on him just yet. But Stevens needs to be in college ball. So, instead of putting up another fraternity house or a billion dollar complex for the Bama rowing team, break open the piggy bank and go after this guy! Stevens is a big name that will attract recruits and is a proven winner. Bama may not be able to afford him but they should at least try.
STEVENS AT BUTLER
|2007–08||30–4||16–2||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|2008–09||26–6||15–3||1st||NCAA First Round|
|2012–13||27–9||11–5||T–3rd||NCAA Third Round|
|Total:||166–49 (.772)||84–22 (.792)|
STEVENS AT BOSTON
|2013–14||25||57||0.305||4th in Atlantic||Missed Playoffs|
If you have followed Crimson Tide basketball over the past several seasons, you should be familiar with Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall. Alabama lost to the Shockers in the NIT championship game in 2011. The Tide got revenge the next season in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off but Wichita won the next two meetings last season and this season.
Marshall has lifted a team from absolute obscurity to a national power. If you look at his record at Wichita, you can see how he has progressively improved the program over the years and kept them relevant.
MARSHALL AT WICHITA STATE
|2008–09||17–17||8–10||T–5th||CBI Second Round|
|2009–10||25–10||12–6||2nd||NIT First Round|
|2011–12||27–6||16–2||1st||NCAA Second Round|
|2012–13||30–9||12–6||2nd||NCAA Final Four|
|2013–14||35–1||18–0||1st||NCAA Third Round|
|2014–15||28–4||17–1||1st||NCAA #7 seed
||202–75 (.729)||101–43 (.701)|
I don't think Tide fans are asking for national championships, but if he could duplicate this kind of success at Bama, they would be pleased.
Marshall recently turned 52. He hails from South Carolina and Virginia, playing his college ball at Randolph–Macon in Ashland, Virginia.
Dayton coach Archie Miller is 36 years old and has served as an assistant at Western Kentucky (Darrin Horn), NC State (Herb Sendek), Arizona State (Herb Sendek), Ohio State (Thad Matta), and Arizona (brother Sean Miller). His Flyers are 2-0 versus Anthony Grant's Crimson Tide teams. His squads are no stranger to the SEC and other major programs:
2011–12: defeated ALABAMA, Wake Forest, Minnesota, Temple, Xavier.
2012–13: defeated ALABAMA, Auburn, UAB, Boston College, Xavier.
2013–14 defeated Georgia Tech, Gonzaga, Ole Miss. NCAA tourney: defeated Ohio State, Syracuse, Stanford, then lost to #1 seed Florida.
2014–15: defeated Texas A&M, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss, VCU (split).
MILLER AT DAYTON
|2011–12||20–13||9–7||5th||NIT First Round|
|2013–14||26–11||10–6||T–5th||NCAA Elite Eight|
||NCAA 11 seed|
Miller played point guard for NC State from 1998–2002. He is from Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania - hometown of one Joe Namath.
Before you decide that these choices are unwinnable pursuits, consider where the Bama football program was in 2007 and how they fixed it. In addition, look at the inspiring hire that SMU made getting Larry Brown. That was an AD thinking big. You never know until you ask.
- Jamie Dixon, Pittsburgh (age 49) 305-105 in 12th season, 2 sweet 16s, 10 NCAAs in 11, never had less than 20-win season. Annual salary $2,133,120.
- Scott Drew, Baylor (age 44) one Sweet 16, two Elite 8, NIT Champions. Annual salary $1,720,333.
Some Tide fans may think that the above possibilities are pipe dreams. But consider the cash that the University of Alabama can throw at a coach that places like Wichita and Dayton cannot match. The men's basketball program posted an $8.2 million surplus for 2014. And this was with waning attendance and one of the nation's top 30 paid coaches. Grant's salary was close to $2 million per year. The Athletics Department as a whole had a $33 million operating surplus.
This is the first major decision that Athletic Director Battle has been faced with in his young tenure at the Capstone. He hired Dana Duckworth as the gymnastics coach (which seemed like a no-brainer) and also Kristy Curry as the women's hoops coach (the jury is still out on that iffy hire). At age 73, he will likely be retiring soon. The question remains as to whether he wants to make the big splash hire or just a stop gap and let the next AD worry about it.
I would be quite disappointed if Battle stuck this program with a "safe" hire. Once upon a time, Steve Prohm was a student assistant coach and student manager for the Crimson Tide. He now coaches Murray State. His teams have put up a lot of wins but have made only one NCAA appearance (2012) in four seasons. Most of this can be explained by the weak schedules they play. This season, the Racers were 27-4 and did not make the field due to the soft schedule (RPI Rank: 62; SOS Rank: 233). Prohm's credentials are less than Anthony Grant's were back in 2009. This hire would be a big mistake.
PROHM AT MURRAY STATE
|2011–12||31–2||15–1||1st||NCAA Round of 32|
|2013–14||23–11||13–3||1st (West)||CIT Champions|
|2014–15||27–4||16–0||1st (West)||NIT #3 seed|