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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Temple Coaching Sweepstakes

Just when you thought that there were five and only five candidates, Temple AD Bill Bradshaw began interviewing others. It could be that some of the top 5 are unattainable for various reasons, it could be that the top 1 is unattainable, and it could be that he's being politically astute by interviewing anyone that an influential Temple constituent is recommending. Temple can be a very political place, so it's hard to derive meaning in the suddenly expanded pool. Still, according to this morning's Philadelphia Daily News, Penn's Fran Dunphy remains the favorite.

To recap, here's what I posted on February 26 (I basically played headhunting firm and built a pool of contenders for the job). So while Bob Huggins (who inked with Kansas State) isn't in the running (and perhaps never was), many of the top candidates I identified are. Temple has already interviewed Penn's Fran Dunphy, Drexel's Bruiser Flint, top aide Dan Leibovitz, former top Chaney aide and current Trail Blazer assistant Dean Demopoulos and current Houston Rocket and Temple alum Rick Brunson. That's a pretty good short list, and several days ago you would have thought that Bradshaw would have stopped right there.

Most recently, he's interviewed Manhattan coach Bobby Gonzalez, who's also in the running for the Seton Hall job, and former USC head coach and current 76er assistant (as well as being a former 76er himself), Henry Bibby. This morning, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that BC's top assistant, Bill Coen, called Temple and that he was getting consideration for an interview.

The Philadelphia papers and The Daily Pennsylvanian, the student newspaper at Penn, have given this story good coverage. The former are concerned both with who will succeed Chaney and who will succeed his successor if that successor is named Dunphy or Flint. The latter has a more parochial view -- and has written most ably about Dunphy's potential successors should he leave for the Temple job. Today's view in the DP is that the pickings are slim for a Dunphy successor, given recent developments in the current jobs of former Penn assistants Fran McCaffery and Fran O'Hanlon. While the list of logical successors is narrow (meaning that there aren't that many obvious choices among current coaches with ties to Penn or the Philadelphia area), the Penn job is a great job. I have no doubt that Penn would be able to fill the vacancy with a great coach should Fran Dunphy seek to coach at a higher level (yes, at Temple he could coach a potential Final Four team; at Penn, given that no Ivy school has won a first-round NCAA game in about 10 years, the chances are rather remote).

It's hard to figure where these sweepstakes are going. Some schools have filled their vacancies rather quickly (Indiana, Kansas State, Cincinnati), while others (Missouri, Temple, Arizona State) are taking longer. Something tells me that if Temple fills the position in the next week, someone from the short list will get it. If it takes longer than that, it makes you wonder what they're waiting for.


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