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Berry Tramel: Here's what kind of coach OU should hire

The Sooners' next basketball coach won't be a big name. He'll be a coach from a big-time school without big-time money.
by Berry Tramel Published: March 15, 2011

The last time OU went looking for a basketball coach, I devised a 64-coach bracket and picked winners all the way down to the final two.

Georgia Tech's Paul Hewitt vs. Wichita State's Mark Turgeon. Hewitt won.

Nothing wrong with that. Two solid candidates. But I also failed to include a certain Jeff Capel in the field of 64. So don't come to me for guesses on who the Sooners will hire this time.

But I can offer insight on from where OU could and should court a coach.

The Sooners won't — and shouldn't — try to shock the world. They wouldn't want a bigger-than-life personality, like this sport often creates, even if they had the sales pitch and checkbook to attract one.

Wouldn't work. OU is a football school, and while Bob Stoops wouldn't care about sharing the spotlight, a basketball coach accustomed to being the biggest thing on campus would go screaming down Imhoff Road after two weeks on campus.

But here's what the Sooners could do to get an established, successful coach. Seek a winner from a big-time basketball school that doesn't play big-time football.

Like Marquette's Buzz Williams, who seems to be the consensus choice in the early soothsaying. But there are other examples.

Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings. Memphis' Josh Pastner. Cincinnati's Mick Cronin. St. John's Steve Lavin. Georgetown's John Thompson III. Xavier's Chris Mack. Butler's Brad Stevens.

Those schools have either no or little football money and wouldn't likely win a bidding war with the Sooners.

Not that all or any of them would jump at an offer. Georgetown's a better basketball job than OU, and Thompson is a D.C. legacy. Lavin is married to a New York actress. Mack and Cronin are Cincinnati guys. Stevens is an Indianapolis folk hero.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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Ranking the openings

With the departure Tuesday of Sidney Lowe from North Carolina State, seven basketball jobs are open in the power conferences, and those schools could be competing for some of the same candidates. How they rank:

1. Arkansas: Razorbacks have been to six Final Fours and 29 NCAA Tournaments. They won the title in 1994. The Hogs once had a huge fan following that could be rekindled.

2. Oklahoma: Sooners have been to 26 NCAAs and four Final Fours. Great facilities and plenty of money, but soft fan base.

3. Georgia Tech: 16 NCAAs and two Final Fours; plays in the tradition-rich ACC. But fan base has dwindled and expectations might be too high, even though the Yellow Jackets played in the 2004 title game.

4. Utah: Headed to the Pac-12, Utes have been to 27 NCAAs and four Final Fours, plus won the 1944 title. Utes were in the Sweet 16 as recently as 2005.

5. North Carolina State: Two NCAA titles, 1974 and 1983, plus another Final Four and 22 overall NCAA appearances. But Wolfpack plays third fiddle in its own state, to Carolina and Duke.

6. Providence: Friars have been to two Final Fours, but none since 1987. And while Friars have been to 16 NCAAs, they haven't won an NCAA game since 1997.

7. Texas Tech: Red Raiders never have made a Final Four. Their eight NCAA Tournament victories rank 91st in the nation.


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