While the games from November through February certainly count in the standings, the tilts that take place in March resonate the most deeply with college basketball fans around the country. Results in conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament are what gets branded in people’s minds. A successful stretch of several games can change the course of a person’s life forever.
That includes the career trajectory of coaches, who can use the platform as a stepping-stone to a more lucrative job. We’ve certainly seen it happen before; Shaheen Holloway led the St. Peter’s Peacocks to a magical run last March, and is now leading the Seton Hall Pirates.
We’ll take a look at four coaches who might depart their current programs for perceived greener pastures after this year’s edition of March Madness.
Nate Oats - Alabama
The Alabama Crimson Tide arguably have the most talented team in college basketball. They have two players that are projected to go in the top 20 of this summer’s NBA Draft. Forward Brandon Miller is one of those highly coveted lottery prospects, and may be selected as high as top three.
With that said, there’s a decent chance that this season is an anomaly for the program, even though it has been their best campaign in decades. Head coach Nate Oats did a wonderful job recruiting ahead of this season, but three out of their top four scorers are freshmen, two of which may depart for the NBA. The Crimson Tide’s 2023 recruiting class figures to be a lot weaker, and some of their competition may get a lot stronger.
The Kentucky Wildcats have had a down season by their standards, but may be right back at the top of the SEC next year. Three of the top five recruits in ESPN’s rankings have committed to play for John Calipari. This might lead Oats to jump ship this summer.
Sean Miller - Xavier
Sean Miller has used Xavier University as a stepping stone once before, and there’s a chance that he may do it again. He started his head coaching career at the school back in 2004-2005, and spent five seasons leading the program.
Miller would then depart to take the same position at the University of Arizona, where he spent 12 years. Before he was unceremoniously fired, he would routinely land some of the best high school prospects in the country.
That’s not to say that he couldn’t do the same thing in his second stint at Xavier, but chances are Miller will want to get back to a program that has a little more of an established brand. That transition might happen sooner than we think.
Brian Dutcher - San Diego State
Very quietly, Brian Dutcher has done a sensational job leading the San Diego State Aztecs basketball program. His winning percentage in six seasons is over 75
Once again, the Aztecs figure to be in the mix as a legitimate NCAA Tournament team. They won’t be tabbed as a favorite, but they also wouldn’t fit the Cinderella profile either.
It stands to reason that San Diego State can win a couple of games in the Big Dance, which might catapult Dutcher’s stock higher than it has ever been before.
Rodney Terry - Texas
Rodney Terry’s coaching career has been a bit of a wild ride. Perhaps no season has been more unpredictable for him than this one, as he was named the interim head coach of the Texas Longhorns after Chris Beard was fired. Few would have guessed that Terry would be leading the program into the NCAA Tournament.
Despite difficult circumstances, he’s kept the ship afloat, and has an opportunity to re-establish himself as a legitimate head coaching candidate. It’s possible that Texas will look to give him the position fulltime if they play well down the stretch.
Terry had an average 163-156 career record as head coach in prior stops at Fresno State and UTEP, but the third time might indeed be the charm for him.