After a slow 2020 coaching carousel that included just one major conference opening with Steve Forbes replacing Danny Manning at Wake Forest, there could soon be an attractive job opening up in college basketball. Gregg Marshall is still the coach at Wichita State for now, but the school is investigating allegations that he’s physically and emotionally abused players during his 13-year run with the Shockers.
Marshall has denied the allegations, but if the investigation results in his dismissal, common sense suggests Wichita State would turn to an interim coach for 2020-21 season since practices have already started. However, the job would be incredibly attractive to coaches across the sport. Marshall led the Shockers to the Final Four in 2013 amid a run of seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances that illustrated how great of program Wichita State can be.
With the financial backing of billionaire Charles Koch, for whom the school’s arena is named, Wichita State would be well-positioned to attract plenty of interest from rising stars and proven coaches as well. Our team of writers made their picks for the job in this week’s Dribble Handoff in response to the following prompt: If Gregg Marshall is fired, who would be a logically reasonable replacement at Wichita State?
John Beilein, former Michigan coach
Wichita State is a top-four job in a top-seven league that has the ability to out-spend almost anybody. So, if the job were to open after the school’s investigation into Marshall is completed, there would be no shortage of interested quality candidates. Wichita State could see if former Shockers assistant Steve Forbes would prefer an easier task than trying to completely rebuild Wake Forest in a ridiculously loaded ACC. But the most obvious person to pursue would be John Beilen, the former Michigan coach who is universally respected throughout the sport and incredibly accomplished. Might Beilein have better opportunities next March/April? Perhaps. But, again, Wichita State is a great job with great resources, a place where a gifted coach can win big, as Marshall has shown over the past 13 seasons. So it’s not crazy to think WSU could lure him. And given that he’s currently unemployed after a short stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA, if the job were to open soon, Wichita State could theoretically try to lure Beilein in advance of this season to expedite its rebuild and hire him before another great job opens next year. — Gary Parrish
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We’ll wait and see with what happens with Marshall, but rest assured this is already being discussed in the industry. Beilein is a name that makes a lot of sense, but I wonder if he’d go that low in terms of program prestige if/when he returns to college hoops. Kinda feel like if he comes back he’s going to go for a top 30-level job. Just a hunch. My name isn’t nearly as high-profile but he would make a lot of sense and I think he’d keep Wichita State humming. Ben Jacobson’s been running Northern Iowa since 2007-08. He’s made four NCAA Tournaments, been to a Sweet 16 and is coming off a 25-6 season. His Panthers are the preseason pick to win the Missouri Valley, and if Northern Iowa can win that league, get a quality seed and even win a game, Jacobson’s going to be in the mix for a job like Wichita State. His career record is 269-170, he’s 49 years old, he knows the region/territory and is familiar with Wichita State since the Shockers were long standing members of the MVC before moving to the AAC. I think he’d be reliable and would be the kind of hire that would last for more than a decade at that job. — Matt Norlander
Kyle Lindsted, Minnesota assistant coach
Should Wichita State turn to a familiar name, an under-the-radar coach with ties to the area and experience within the program should warrant consideration: Kyle Lindsted. Lindsted served on Gregg Marshall’s staff from 2015-2018 where the Shockers were really rolling. He’s seen what some of the program’s best moments have looked like. And he witnessed firsthand how Marshall built his program, both the good and the bad, as he was reportedly choked by his boss in 2015. But most importantly for Lindsted, his ties to the area are unmatched compared with other potential candidates on this list and elsewhere. He previously spent 15 years at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas, a basketball juggernaut in Kansas that perennially produces talents capable of playing at Wichita State’s level. He knows the ins and outs of the state. To have that connection to the school and to have deep-rooted connections within the state is a huge feather in the cap for a coach who in most years is battling the likes of Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri for some of the top talents in the region. — Kyle Boone
Travis DeCuire, Montana coach
DeCuire has racked up a 127-71 overall record in six seasons at Montana, including a gaudy 85-27 mark in the Big Sky, while leading the Grizzlies to two NCAA Tournament appearances. He’s due for a break, and Wichita State feels like the perfect caliber opportunity.
Montana’s got a solid track record of producing coaches who succeed in higher profile jobs. DeCuire’s predecessor, Wayne Tinkle, left for the Oregon State job and is still there. Tinkle’s predecessor, Larry Krystkowiak left for the Utah job and is still there. Go back a little further and you’ll find that Mike Montgomery jumped from Montana to Stanford and led the Cardinal to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances in 18 seasons. Ironically, DeCuire later worked for Montgomery as an assistant at Cal before landing the Montana job.
The 49-year-old DeCuire set the school record for assists at Montana in the early 1990s and is on track to set some school records as a coach there, too. So while he might not leave his alma mater for just any job, the prestige and life-changing money that Wichita State could offer would surely make the decision a no-brainer. — David Cobb