[UPDATE, 9 pm: Mark Turgeon has been hired to replace Gary Williams. Now Texas A&M has to find a new coach.]
The Maryland coaching search, mercifully, appears to be approaching the finish line. According to a slew of college basketball reporters, Mark Turgeon of Texas A&M was presented with an offer today for the Terps’ coaching job, and indications as of right now (6:08 pm) are that he’s “leaning” toward taking the job.
(Unless, of course, he’s putting that out there in hopes of getting a raise from the Aggies.) Turgeon would be a smart hire, considering what he’s done at Wichita State (Sweet 16) and Texas A&M (four straight NCAA tournament trips). But because playing Devil’s Advocate is fun, here goes:
* Turgeon is a Midwest guy. Born in Kansas. Was a Jayhawk.
* Turgeon is believed to be “next” at Kansas, as in, he’s supposed to be the guy who coaches Kansas after Bill Self departs.
* As many Kansas readers pointed out to me, Turgeon has never had a deep NCAA tourney run, and Bill Self is going nowhere. That’s fair. Did anyone get a hint Gary Williams would be leaving? Or Urban Meyer? Hey, it happens. Plus, who knows when the Thunder or Spurs are going to have an opening and big bucks at Self?
* The closest Turgeon has been to the Northeast? One year as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1997-1998. So unless he hires a Maryland AAU coach to be part of his staff, he’ll could have issues getting in the mix there. Gary Williams’ issues with the AAU coaches in the Maryland-DC area are well-documented.
Ultimately, Maryland fans should be pleased with this hire. Of course they would have been happier with Jay Wright or Sean Miller or even Mike Brey (well, not all of them), but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to “steal” elite coaches, and none of the mid-major rising stars seem ready to leave.
Would I have passed on Turgeon and promoted an interim coach? Yes, I would have. I’m of the belief (minority opinion, for sure; only this guy agrees) that Turgeon is just using Maryland as a stepping stone to the Kansas job. He had a dalliance with Oregon last year before getting a raise. If he takes the Maryland job, he could be there for two years or five years or 10 years.
Promote the hungry, passionate, smart interim coach despite his lack of head coaching experience. If he fails miserably this season and the season is a disaster off the court, too, then you go hard at top targets next March/April when coaches are much more likely to leave.