Bill Bradshaw knows replacing John Chaney is going to be a bumpy and arduous process. The athletic director said so last week at Chaney’s retirement press conference.
Chaney vowed to reporters last week that he would stay involved with the university. He added that he would be involved with the Athletic Department’s search for a new coach.
Chaney gave his own criteria for the position:
“You’ve got to have a Temple person who knows this university. You’ve got to know this university,” Chaney said last week after announcing his retirement. “When they talk about acres of diamonds, you really got to look into our history and recognize that this is a very special university.
“I’m hoping that the people that’s been loyal to us [get considered],” Chaney continued. “I’m going to submit a couple names [to the Athletic Department]. I’m hoping that those names will be looked at – I will not tell you who they are – that they will be looked at strongly and that we’ll see them stay their course.
“… I’m hoping that this university stays its course. I’ve said that about five times – stay your course.”
While only the administration knows for sure whose names Chaney submitted as replacements for his position, prognostication holds that there are several individuals who are in the running for the job. Here are a few:
The Penn coach should get extensive consideration as a possible successor to Chaney. ESPN’s Andy Katz reported last week that Dunphy would take the job if it was offered. Dunphy, a Philadelphian, has won 10 Ivy League Championships and taken nine Penn teams to the NCAA Tournament. Dunphy is the Quakers’ winningest coach, having compiled over 300 career wins in 18 seasons at Penn.
The 57-year-old Dunphy has earned some national prestige, as well. He coached Penn to the No. 25 spot in the national rankings in the 1993-94 season, and he’s taken the Quakers into the second round of the Big Dance. His recruiting reach – which goes well into Philadelphia’s Inter-Academic League – might be attractive to the search committee. As a La Salle graduate and former Explorers assistant cocach, he has knowledge of the Atlantic Ten Conference.
James “Bruiser” Flint is as familiar with the A-10 as any other Philadelphia coach. Drexel’s coach for the last five seasons, Flint is a graduate of Saint Joseph’s. He served as John Calipari’s assistant at Massachusetts before he held the head position for five seasons.
Flint, 40, has compiled a 68-49 record at Drexel, but his stock has diminished in recent seasons as the Dragons have failed to advance to postseason play. Flint’s teams also have struggled against their sub-standard conference competition in the Colonial Athletic Association.
The longtime assistant for Chaney has said he has interest in the post. Demopoulos currently serves as top assistant coach with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers, but for 17 seasons he was Chaney’s assistant at Temple.
In his one season as head coach of Missouri-Kansas City – sandwiched between his gig at Temple and his current pro stint – Demopolous’ team compiled numbers that would make him a good fit for Temple. His Kangaroos ranked in the top 10 nationally in fewest turnovers per game and scoring defense. Demopolous, a week from his 52d birthday, is a Philadelphia native and a West Chester graduate, so he is familiar with the recruiting area.
Another of Chaney’s disciples – current assistant coach Leibovitz – is assumed to be receiving consideration for the post. While Leibovitz has never served as a head coach on the collegiate level, he has compiled a 3-3 head coaching record in games in which Chaney has missed, either by suspension or retirement.
In 10 seasons at Temple, Leibovitz, 32, has been responsible for Temple’s recruiting for the last several years. His other duties included advanced scouting, preparation for games and academic advising. A Penn graduate and Bryn Mawr native, Leibovitz might also be considered as a candidate for the top assistant position to help the next head coach’s transition.
His name has been tossed around as a potential replacement for Chaney. Huggins, 52, coached at Cincinnati from 1989-2005, before resigning over a controversial past that included a DUI citation.
Huggins has 24 years of coaching experience and an impeccable knack for coaching in big games. He led the Bearcats to 14 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances prior to his resignation. He twice got Cincy to the Elite 8, and once to the Final Four.
In terms of overall victories and won-lost percentage, Huggins is Cincinnati’s winningest head coach. Like Chaney, Huggins has earned numerous national coach of the year honors.
He has an impressive track record for recruiting and coaching talent. Considered to be among Huggins’ best recruits at Cincinnati were Kenyon Martin, Danny Fortson and Nick Van Exel, who all went on to reasonably successful careers in the NBA.
Like Huggins, Calipari would bring a winning legacy to Temple. A 46-year-old Moon, Pa., native, Calipari has found success at Memphis, where he has quickly established himself as one of the nation’s top young coaches.
Prior to this season, the 46-year-old Calipari had won more than 300 games in just 13 seasons, becoming only the seventh coach ever to do so. He coached the Tigers to a No. 3 ranking this season.
While at UMasss from 1988-96, Calipari helped put the Minutemen on the map. He continually coached them into the national rankings and into a heated rivalry with Temple.
Chaney once threatened to kill Calipari after an in-game argument spilled into a press conference in the mid-’90s, but the two have since become close friends.
Brunson might be a good candidate for an assistant coaching position, but he might not be ready for the head coaching spot. At least not yet.
A former Temple player under Chaney, Brunson, 33, still plays professional ball. He is currently on the roster for the NBA’s Houston franchise. He has not coached at any level of the game.
Brunson has said that he wants to get into coaching. He also said that there is no better place to start than Temple, where he played from 1992-95.
ESPN’s Katz likened the hiring of Brunson as Temple’s men’s basketball coach to the hire of Dawn Staley as the women’s basketball coach. While Staley had no coaching history upon her hire, she has since developed the women’s team into a national power.
The same could be argued for Brunson, but he has a less recognizable resume than Staley, a perennial WNBA all-star and three-time Olympic gold medal winner.
Katz reported last week that there is a strong urge to hire a Philadelphia native as Chaney’s successor. But other ESPN reports had Mike Davis, 45, who will officially resign his post at Indiana following his Hoosiers’ NCAA Tournament run, as another potential candidate for Chaney’s post.
Message board speculators have tossed around 54-year-old Tubby Smith, of Kentucky, as a less-likely but nonetheless potential candidate.
A source indicated that former 76ers coach Randy Ayers has experessed interest in the position as well.
Christopher A. Vito can be reached at email@example.com.