With Mark Turgeon stepping down as head coach of the Maryland Terrapins, one of the top men's college basketball jobs is open. Several prominent names could easily be considered to fill in the role.
Mike Brey (Notre Dame) has a tremendous amount of DMV ties. Rick Pitino (Iona) is likely going to be called upon by a Power 5 school soon. Sean Miller does not have a job. Kevin Willard (Seton Hall) and Kim English (George Mason) are two up-and-comers someone will snag soon.
While parting ways with a head coach in the midst of a season is rare, it does give Maryland Athletics a leg up on the rest of the college basketball landscape. Most openings won't become available until mid-March. Many coaches would be love to jump at the opportunity to coach the Terps and it gives them plenty of time to get the hire right.
At the end of the day Maryland is, at worst, a top-30 program, located in one of the best recruiting hubs in the country, play in what is consistently considered the best conference in Division I men's basketball and has outstanding facilities.
The program has a history of luring other notable Power 5 head coaches to College Park. Turgeon left Texas A&M to head to College Park. Gary Williams left Ohio State. There is precedence they could do it again.
Whoever takes this job will immediately face expectations where of having the team be near the top of the Big Ten conference and long NCAA Tournament runs.
Here are 11 coaching candidates that would be ideal fits for the Terrapins:
Mike Brey, Notre Dame head coach
Brey has been guiding the Fighting Irish seemingly forever but has longstanding DMV roots. He grew up in Bethesda, Maryland - less than 20 minutes away from the UMD campus - and was an assistant at one of the best prep schools in the country, DeMatha Catholic High School not far away in Hyattsville.
Despite the lack of recent success, there's no doubt in his ability to recruit, especially in the D.C.-area. Moving to Maryland without the academic constraints of Notre Dame should open the door for him to flourish more. But all of this is would be assuming that Brey would be willing to part with ND after 22 years.
Rick Pitino, Iona head coach
At some point - if he hasn't been already - Pitino is going to get considered for Power 5 jobs once again. At Iona, he's shown why he remains one of the best coaching minds in the sport's history.
However, it's not the coaching ability that one concerns themselves with when it comes to Rick Pitino. It's his troubling past at Louisville.
Somebody is going to take a risk at getting Pitino. As unlikely as a fit it may be with the Terps, he's the best college coach not currently in an NBA or Power 5 gig.
Sean Miller, former Arizona head coach
Another coach that comes with baggage and in Miller's case even comes with questions on if there are more punitive decisions coming from the NCAA in his involvement in the FBI scandal.
But, Maryland fans will remember that in the coaching search that landed Turgeon, they almost got then-up-and-coming head coach Sean Miller. He reportedly met with Maryland officials but decided to stay put in Tuscon.
Instead, he quickly vaulted Arizona into a stellar program from a competition standpoint. He has a great history of recruiting, getting those top-end players to the NBA and then recruiting elite players behind them.
Of the possible 10 NCAA Tournaments he could have guided his team to, his Wildcats earned seven bids with three Elite Eight appearances and two other Sweet Sixteens.
Bruce Pearl, Auburn head coach
If one wants to make the Under Armour connection, Bruce Pearl is another coaching candidate that comes to mind. At Auburn, the 61-year-old has struggled to find consistency but did lead the Tigers to the Final Four back in 2019. Wherever he has gone, though, Pearl has found success and his teams always have high floors.
Fans would be pleased with his ability to bring in high-level recruits and his style of play compared to that of Turgeon.
Pearl's buyout is 50% of the remaining amount owed on his contract (if done after the season it would be $4 million, according to AL.com). That is far less than the buyout of another popular candidate among fans, Alabama's Nate Oats. Oats' buyout is $12.5 million during this season and drops to a still staggering $9.8 million in the offseason.
Kevin Willard, Seton Hall head coach
It took Willard a while to build the Pirates back into a consistent threat for an NCAA Tournament bid, but he doesn't show any signs of stopping. Until the COVID-19 pandemic, Seton Hall had made four straight NCAA Tournaments.
Willard has a similar career arc as Turgeon did when he came to Maryland. At 46, he's not exactly a 'young coach' compared to others on this list but he'll be hired at an age that will allow him to make his mark and build up the Terrapins for the long haul. And by far, Maryland would be the easiest place for him to recruit of his stops at Iona and Seton Hall.
Mark Pope, BYU head coach
Before the school's decision to move to the Big 12, one would assume that Pope would make the jump to a Power 5-type program when the situation is right. Maryland would be just that.
In his first six years as a head coach with Utah Valley and BYU, he has boasted a 121-71 record (.630) and 44-15 (.746) at BYU alone.
He's also played in the NBA, was a high-profile player at Kentucky and was an assistant at Georgia and Wake Forrest. This could be a sneaky great hire that will get Terps fans excited.
Andy Enfield, USC head coach
Enfield is an East Coaster, played at Johns Hopkins and serving in several coaching roles in the East. In fact, the former Florida Gulf Coast head coach earned a postgraduate degree at Maryland.
Moving away from Southern California and out of the Pac-12 - which is a lot easier to build a conference championship contender year after year than the Big Ten - might be a tall task. But he fits the bill for a candidate worthy of taking the open Maryland role.
John Beilein, Detroit Pistons executive
The jump to the NBA didn't work out for Beilein, leaving Michigan to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. Less than two years later he resigned from the role and instead is working as a Player Development assistant.
Now, he is 68 and may not want to go back into the grind of coaching. However, he's one of the best coaches college basketball has had in recent years with two recent trips to the National Championship Game. One would assume that he wouldn't want to end his coaching years with his stint in Cleveland.
He knows how to win in the Big Ten and doesn't have a massive buyout like many of these other names.
Eric Musselman, Arkansas head coach
There's no argument that Musselman knows how to quickly raise a program to prominence. He did so at Nevada and at Arkansas in less than two seasons. Of course, he's well known for his use of the transfer market and convincing top-tier talent to come play for him. Recruiting players to come to the D.C. suburbs is sure to be easier than his other stops.
The biggest obstacle is the buyout Arkansas has in his contract. Right now it is $7.5 million if he leaves before the end of the season, which drops to $2 million if done after the NCAA Tournament, according to KATV. Still a massive amount, but it might be worthwhile for the Terps.
Danny Manning, interim Maryland head coach
Manning has the best opportunity of anyone to coach himself into this role. He does have head coaching experience at Tulsa and Wake Forest with a mixed bag of results.
He'll obviously have to outcoach his former boss Turgeon for the remainder of the season. The roster is still loaded with talent and plenty of time remaining before the tournament. A loss to Northwestern at home doesn't help his case.
Perhaps if he turns it around, he'll be named the permanent coach, but I'd imagine Manning would have to meet pretty high standards.
Kim English, George Mason head coach
This is a little of a wild card but Maryland knows first-hand of how talented first-year head coach Kim English is after he knocked off the Terrapins in just his fourth game. Presumably, the Terrapins bring him in for a long-term deal hoping he's the next young coaching prodigy (English is only 33).
It would not be without risk. The Patriots are 0-5 since the upset victory. But, English is a Baltimore native, has proven in a short amount of time that he can recruit and has great NBA connections.