The longer there is no word on whether Harvard Coach Tommy Amaker will make the move across the Charles River to Boston College, the question grows about who is at the Top of the Eagles’ Plan B list.
To facilitate the next steps beyond Amaker, BC athletic director Brad Bates has hired a search firm headed by Eddie Fogler.
Much to the dismay of some BC backers, the Eagle job is not regarded as a “must get” position.
Lots of interest, but given the parameters of the school and what Bates wants as his next coach and is willing to do, the pool of viable candidates isn’t that deep.
It is an ongoing process, which is changing constantly as Bates and his inner circle of advisors works through the process of finding a replacement for Steve Donahue who was fired last week after four seasons.
But at BC nothing is clear cut or black and white.
Donahue had the support of Bates throughout the process, but in the short time span after the end of the regular season and the ACC tournament, a faction of BC boosters on the Board of Trustees turned the administration away from Donahue.
While Bates was comfortable giving Donahue another season, he was over ruled.
Amaker was the No. 1 candidate on almost everyone’s list.
BC has an interview process which requires several layers of approval.
Amaker was OK with that, as long as it was clear that when it was over, he would emerge as the next coach if there were no objections.
He also made it clear that if BC were to succeed some major changes had to be made.
BC was not ready to do that completely, letting it be known that the process would take time and while Amaker was at the top of the list, other candidates would also be interviewed.
Amaker did not agree with that concept. He is totally comfortable at Harvard, where he has built a dynastic winning program in his 7 seasons as the Crimson coach.
Fogler’s task was to compile a secondary list beyond Amaker..
The top of the list is apparently centered on Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins and Towson head coach Pat Skerry.
Both Hopkins, who is the coach in waiting behind Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and Skerry have developed reputations as good recruiters, which is one of the key elements in the search.
Both men are actively lobbying for the job, especially Skerry, who has a strong Massachusetts connection.
He grew up in Medford, went to Tufts. His coaching resume includes stints as an assistant at Tufts, Stonehill, Curry (head coach for two years), Northeastern, William & Mary, the College of Charleston, Rhode Island, Providence, and Pittsburgh.
At 44, Skerry has taken Towson from a 1-17 team two years ago to 18-13 last season and a solid 25-10 mark this season. He has developed a hard edge reputation as a recruiter.
The main drawback against Hopkins is that he has never been a head coach, serving his apprenticeship at Syracuse with Jim Boeheim.
Another name which seems to have drawn interest from the BC hierarchy is St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt.
Schmidt knows BC well because he is a former Eagle basketball player under Tom Davis.
His coaching career includes assistant’s roles at Saint Michaels, Penn State,Loyola (Md.) and Xaiver.
He was the head coach at Robert Morris for six seasons, compiling an 82-90 record.
He took over at St. Bonaventure in 2007-2008 and has produced 3 winning seasons (1 NCAA berth) in 7 years.
If BC wants to go down that road, it should also consider Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore, who has been at Quinnipiac 7 seasons and has produced winning seasons in 5 of those years, including 3 years in which he won 20 or more games.
Moore also has the advantage of spending 13 years as an assistant at UConn, which means he knows how to recruit at the highest level.
The list should also include Bryant U. Coach Tim O’Shea as well as Northeastern coach Bill Coen, a former Al Skinner assistant who was instrumental in bringing in high quality players at BC.
O’Shea, another former Skinner assistant, played at BC (he was Mark Schmidt’s college roommate).
He also has 7 years of head coaching experiencing in the MAC at Ohio University, where he had 5 winning seasons (2 20 plus win seasons and an NCAA appearance) in seven years.
At Bryant, he has taken the Bulldogs into the new world of Division 1, producing winning seasons the past two years.
None of the secondary moves will be made if Amaker decides to move from Harvard.
Amaker is the one coach who has the equity to come to BC and tell them what they need to make things better and also turn them down if he doesn’t like the answers he hears.
BC needs him, more than he needs BC, which hasn’t happened often at BC which regards itself as an elite school in an elite conference.
There is some truth to that, but since Skinner was fired four years ago, the Eagles’ basketball stock has fallen considerably, while the rest of the ACC has gotten significantly better.
Amaker is represented by agent David Falk, who has conducted many of the talks with BC officials.
Whether BC makes a choice that is the right fit at the right time remains to be seen.
If it is not Amaker, it seems likely that Hopkins or Skerry will emerge as the front runners.
If that doesn’t satisfy the BC contingent there are only a few candidates who would generate much excitement.
One possible contender could be former UCLA and Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland, who has been successful at two major programs, taken teams to the Final Four (UCLA 3 times) and is looking for a job.
But Howland has already reportedly talked to people at Marquette about their opening. Since Marquette paid former coach Buzz Williams $2.8 million per year, it seems doubtful if BC would want to compete at that level for a coach.
And it is more than likely that Howland would want the same upgrades at BC that Amaker would want.
But until the deal is closed, anything and anyone would seem possible at BC.
© 2014, Mark. All rights reserved.