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We Need to Hire a Head Coach, Not an Assistant Coach

I've heard plenty of names as possible candidates for the opening of head basketball coach at Mississippi State. I've seen names like Orlando Antigua, Chris Collins, Phil Cunningham, Robert Kirby and Joe Dooley mentioned. One problem, those are assistant coaches. I'd rather stick to current head coaches during this search, there's no reason do dip so low.

If that first paragraph gave you a desire to burn me in a comment about Rick Stansbury being an assistant coach, well, that was 14 years ago....that was under Larry 'in the black' Templeton.

Or, you might say 'Dan Mullen was an assistant coach at Florida', and you love him, right? Right, I do enjoy some Mullen ball...but football is not basketball. Not even close.

In football, you'd be happy to hire a top coordinator at another school. Even Florida hired Will Muschamp, and they have one of the most attractive jobs in the country. So, what's the big difference from hiring an assistant coach off a top football program than one at a top basketball program? Glad you asked.

In football, you've got around 20% of Division 1-A (FBS) head coaches making less than top assistants at Alabama, Georgia, Auburn, etc. Why Gus Malzahn took a pay cut to coach Arkansas State may be between him and Gene Chizik because it's not the norm. The fact is, being a coordinator at a SEC, or Big Ten, or Big 12 school is more prestigious than being a head coach at a MAC, or Sun Belt, or WAC school. Of course, that statement is arguable, but you'd have some convincing to do to say a SEC coordinator position isn't a better stepping stone than North Texas or the like.

That said, basketball isn't nearly the same. The biggest reason is because winning your conference tournament from any league secures a berth in the NCAA Tournament. That means you get your mug (if you're a head coach) front in center during March Madness. And if you can make the Sweet 16 your name is hot. Make it further, and you're name is even hotter. Who knew of Shaka Smart before VCU's run last year?

So, basketball head coaching jobs at mid-majors are a lot better than assistant coaching jobs at power schools. Not only that, but assistant basketball coaches at power schools get paid considerably less than a good head coach at a mid-major. Mid-majors dip into the BCS assistant coaching ranks to find a head coach, BCS schools dip into the mid-major head coaching ranks to find a head coach. Mississippi State is a BCS school. We got the cash, the status. (seriously, we do LT lovers).

There's no reason to hire an assistant coach from any program. Why would we do this? If that assistant is good enough, why haven't they been hired as a head coach anywhere? If we are going to spend millions of dollars, don't we want to know how they handle themselves as a head coach, in front of the media, in pressure situations, on the recruiting trails?

Finally, my biggest point of all. Name an SEC school that hired an assistant coach as their head coach. Auburn - no (UTEP). Arkansas - no (Missouri). Alabama - no (VCU). Ole Miss - no (Cincinnati). LSU - no (Stanford). Kentucky - no (Memphis). Florida - no (Marshall). Tennessee - no (Missouri State). South Carolina - no (Horn - Western Kentucky). Georgia - no (Nevada). Vanderbilt - no (Illinois State). The answer: there is none, it doesn't happen. Quit naming assistant coaches...we'd be a laughing stock.