Horizon League coach review

Jim Whitesell - Loyola (Ill.)

Could Jim Whitesell be on his way out of Loyola if the team struggles again in 2010-11?

UPDATE: Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press Gazette is reporting that Kowalczyk is going to Toledo, so the Green Bay job is now open.

Last week I looked at the coaching situation in the Big East. This week I took a look at the Horizon League. The situations of the 10 coaches aren't as easy to put into boxes because of the requirements presented by each of the respective schools. For instance, I bet that Green Bay doesn't want to lose Tod Kowalczyk to a lateral move to Toledo, but the Phoenix don't have the resources to pay more to keep him.

Instead of putting the coaches into boxes, I'm going to rank their situations from 1 to 10, i.e. safest to least safe. These are my own rankings determined from reading too many Horizon League message boards and news reports about the respective institutions. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

We'll start with three guys that are going to be at their schools for a long time still (if they want):

#1 Brad Stevens - Butler: The fact is this, after taking Butler to the Final Four Stevens could probably name his open job in America and get it. The smart money on is him leaving eventually, because every Butler coach leaves eventually, but maybe not this season. Most of the jobs that are open aren't great opportunities and it seems like it will take more than a good opportunity to get Stevens, who is just 33, to leave the Bulldogs. Considering he'll have most of this team back for next season, there's no reason for him not to enjoy the ride. He's as safe as a coach can be.

#2 Brad Brownell - Wright State: Brownell is quietly building a very solid program at Wright State. He is starting to get some recognition for it as well. He was mentioned as a possibility for the Iowa job. The Raiders are in a very stable situation. Expect him to get more opportunities to jump to a higher level in the next few seasons.

#3 Homer Drew - Valparaiso: The Drew family is revered at Valparaiso, and with good reason. While Scott Drew has moved onto Baylor, and maybe somewhere else soon, his father has held down the fort for the Crusaders. It took some time for them to get on their feet after the move from the Summit League, but now Valparaiso is fitting right in with the rest of the Horizon League. Some key transfers helped the Crusaders a lot this season. Homer's son Bryce, yes that Bryce, is the associate head coach at Valparaiso and I'm assuming he's next in line to continue the Drew legacy in northwest Indiana.

And now it gets hard. The next group is a group of coaches that have had success in the league but might be looking to go somewhere soon.

#4 Gary Waters - Cleveland State: The Vikings had a down season after doing a great job in the NCAA Tournament in 2009 because of an incredible amount of youth. The team appeared to gel near the end of the season and looks like one of the favorites in the Horizon League in 2011. Waters is building a solid program in Cleveland. I wonder if he'll be looking for a new job soon if the rebuilding process is quick.

#5 Ray McCallum - Detroit: It is assumed that once McCallum gets his feet underneath of him at Detroit he'll want to move to another bigger like the one he had at Houston. His son, Ray McCallum Jr., is one of the most dynamic talents in college basketball. If he goes to play with his father he'll probably be the best recruit in the Horizon League next season. Even beyond that McCallum is slowly starting to develop a hard-nosed, defensive oriented team around solid transfers and developing big men.

#6 Tod Kowalczyk - Green Bay: Kowalczyk has built the Phoenix into a dangerous program that consistently wins between 15 and 22 games per season. Over the past two seasons Green Bay has won 22 games both times. Still, the Phoenix haven't qualified for the NCAA Tournament. Now he's rumored to be thinking about moving to Toledo. If he stayed though his upset of Wisconsin and the school's postseason play in the CBI would probably help his case. UPDATE: Kowalczyk is going to Toledo.

#7 Rob Jeter - Milwaukee: While Milwaukee didn't have quite the season its fans hoped for, the Panthers did win 20 games last season. Jeter took the Panthers to the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and then had to endure a long rebuilding process. It appears that he's learned what caliber of player is necessary to win in the Horizon League. The Panthers have built up their win total each of the past three seasons. Can he sustain that success after losing a key piece like Ricky Franklin? Jeter is the lowest in this tier, because the Panthers spend the most on men's basketball in the Horizon League and that money usually comes with a mandate of success.

And now, the tier of coaches that could be in trouble soon.

#8 Jim Whitesell - Loyola: The Ramblers have struggled lately and Whitesell is beginning to feel the heat. The team scheduled down in the non-conference during the 2010 season and it got the Ramblers off to a hot start, but when they couldn't sustain it in conference play the feelings were mixed about how good that was for the school. Next season most of the Rambler rotation will return and Whitesell will need to find success in order to keep the Loyola administration from thinking about making a change.

#9 Jerry Slocum - Youngstown State: Slocum is in a tough position. He coaches basketball at a football school and while he had success at one time, it has really fallen off lately. The Penguins have never been to the NCAA Tournament and they're going the wrong direction since winning 14 games in 2007. Slocum has had since 2005 to build the program and he hasn't been able to do it. His time might be coming to an end shortly if the school thinks there is someone out there that can win in Youngstown.

#10 Jimmy Collins - UIC: Yes, he once went to the NCAA Tournament, but his ranking at #10 just goes to show how quickly a star can fall in the coaching ranks. Collins has reached lame-duck status at a school in which none of the fans can understand why he didn't get replaced after this season. Next season is a make-or-break season for the program, Collins and the administration and they all know it. If the Flames don't show progress then someone else will be stalking the sidelines of the Pavilion in 2011-12.


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  • Is it a coincidence that immediately following the coaches who are about to get fired there is a link to the Top 10 Gruesome Methods of Execution?

    I was surprised that Jimmy Collins is only 63. He always looks older than that, so maybe UIC can just talk him into retirement.

    Brad Brownell always gets talked up by ESPN, etc. He did a great job at UNCW and has kept it up. I think he'll be the next to go to a bigger pond.

  • Yes, it most certainly was coincidence. UIC fans certainly hope that Collins can be talked into retirement at the end of next season. Right now many of his quotes make him sound defiant. He really isn't happy about how things have gone.

    Now that Kowalczyk is gone, my guess is that Brownell would be the next guy to leave, but there aren't any logical landing spots yet.

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