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Who Are The Candidates At Carolina?

Yesterday, Eric Hyman said that he would study a wide pool of candidates in his search to replace fired hoops coach Darrin Horn.

From our standpoint, South Carolina’s search will likely begin with one man — Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall.  Marshall led tiny Palmetto State school Winthrop to seven NCAA Tournaments in nine seasons before heading to Kansas.  He’s taken Wichita State from a losing team to a #5 seed in this week’s NCAA Tournament (with an RPI of 12) in five years.

He’s also from Greenwood, South Carolina which is just about 80 miles from Columbia.  And during Hyman’s presser yesterday, he said that recruiting, player development, and connections to the area would all be factors in his decision. 

Marshall makes sense.  That said, being from South Carolina, he may wonder why he was never tabbed for the Gamecock head coaching job earlier in his career.  And as a native of the state he would surely know that Carolina has been a graveyard for coaches since the Frank McGuire era came to an end in 1980.

Marshall might have the following choice to make: home and SEC money versus — according to history — probable doom.

If he’s not the Gamecocks’ choice — and through multiple interviews with SEC schools in the past, Marshall has not been the choice — then who will be on Carolina’s short list?

Columbia’s The State newspaper has posted an online poll that includes in addition to Marshall a number of coaches with ties back to the state (meaning the actual state, not the newspaper).  Included on the list:

Dave Dickerson — current assistant at Ohio State and Carolina native (also fired as head coach at Tulane)

Tommy Amaker — current head coach at Harvard and former Duke player (also fired as head coach at Michigan)

Tubby Smith — current head coach at Minnesota (where he’s doing a so-so job) and a former Carolina assistant coach under George Felton in the late 1980s

Jeff Capel — an assistant at Duke and former player there (also fired as head coach at Oklahoma)

Stan Jones — an assistant at Florida State and former assistant at Mississippi State

Anthony Solomon — an assistant at Notre Dame and former assistant at Clemson

Shaka Smart — VCU’s head coach and one of the hottest names in the country

Smart could land better jobs than Carolina.  He’s on everyone’s list for a second year in a row.  One look at USC’s track record and he’ll likely turn his head in another direction.

Smith is 61-years-old and the Gamecocks went the veteran route with a 59-year-old Dave Odom back in 2001.  Speaking as someone who’s now over 40, the older you get… the less you excite a fanbase.

If a lack of fan support helped do in Horn, would a coach who was fired from another program really generate excitement in Columbia?  Would the hiring of an assistant?

It’s ridiculously early to be making guesses about who Hyman will wind up handing a contract to, but if you’re gonna do it, the smart money’s on Marshall.

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