Sean Miller, And Five Other Candidates For Pittsburgh Job


Jamie Dixon shocked the college basketball world on Monday when he left his long-time job at Pittsburgh to take over as head coach at TCU. Now an ACC job is open and there are sure to be a ton of worthy candidates willing to take the helm at Pitt. Here is a look at a few names that could be in the mix as Pittsburgh athletic director Scott Barnes starts his search for a new head basketball coach.

Sean Miller, Arizona

This is probably not going to happen. Sean Miller already has a great job at Arizona, and while the Wildcats under-performed this season, the 47-year-old coach has had success in Tucson. He just finished his seventh year at Arizona and has a phenomenal record of 188-61 (.755 winning percentage), three Elite Eight trips and three Pac-10/12 regular season titles.

Pittsburgh is Miller’s alma mater and he was a star player for the Panthers from 1987-92.

The pull to go home will be there, but put simply: Arizona is a better job than Pitt. Miller knows that, and though he may take a call out of courtesy, there’s almost no chance he leaves Arizona.

Archie Miller, Dayton

If the Panthers want a Miller, they would do well to target Sean’s little brother Archie. Dayton’s 37-year-old coach has had a successful six-year run to this point, with an overall record of 115-55 (.676 winning percentage), three NCAA Tournament berths and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2014.

Archie Miller and his Flyers were 25-7 this year and co-Atlantic 10 regular season champions but were bounced from the tournament in the opening round by Syracuse. During the 2014-15 season, Miller’s squad was 27-9 and reached the second round of the tournament. That followed Dayton’s Cinderella run in 2014 where they upset Ohio State, Syracuse and Stanford before bowing out to Florida.

Miller would immediately re-energize Pitt basketball and should be one of the first people Barnes calls.

Ben Jacobson, Northern Iowa

Despite his team’s epic meltdown against Texas A&M Sunday night, Northern Iowa’s Ben Jacobson will certainly be a hot name on the coaching carousel. In 10 years at the school, the 45-year-old is already a three-time Missouri Valley Coach of the Year, has led the Panthers to two regular season MVC titles and four MVC Tournament titles. UNI has reached the NCAAs four times under Jacobson and made a Sweet 16 in 2010.

The Montana native could be looking to trade up and a gig in the ACC would certainly be that. The only question is whether he will decide to stick around for one more campaign and take a run at an opening next year. He signed a 10-year contract extension after last season and could be comfortable.

Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt vastly underachieved this season and as a result, long-time head coach Kevin Stallings’ seat may be getting warm. In fact, he has reportedly talked to St. Louis about the school’s coaching vacancy.

Stallings just finished his 17th season at Vanderbilt and he may feel he has maxed out the potential of that program. He has posted a record of 332-220 (.601 winning percentage) at a place not known for athletics. He’s a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, led the Commodores to an SEC Tournament title in 2012 and has taken them to the NCAA Tournament seven times, with two Sweet 16 appearances.

He isn’t flashy and won’t be a big-name hire, but Stallings has a ton of credibility in coaching circles. When you’re praised by your peers as much as he is, you’re bound to trade up to another job at some point. Pitt could do far worse.

Ben Howland, Mississippi State

How about a Ben Howland reunion? There is certainly a segment of Pitt’s fanbase who would welcome Howland back, as his 89-40 record during his four-year stretch at the school was fantastic. He took the Panthers to new heights, getting them to the Sweet 16 twice while winning two Big East titles and being name National Coach of the Year in 2002. He bolted for UCLA following the 2003 season.

Howland was wildly successful at UCLA for a time, reaching three-straight Final Fours in 2006, 2007 and 2008. But things began to erode for the 58-year-old when he began to value talent over fit in his system. He is a tough-nosed, defense-first coach and many of his top recruits refused to buy-in to his slowed down pace. That kind of pace would be perfect for Pitt again.

Howland just finished up his first year as the head coach at Mississippi State, and the team’s 14-17 record won’t exactly make him look like an attractive candidate. But we’ve seen what he can do at a place like Pitt and it wouldn’t be hard to bring him back.

Lorenzo Romar, Washington

Lorenzo Romar is another name that won’t bring a ton of excitement with it, but Barnes knows the veteran coach well from the four years he spent as senior associate athletic director at Washington (2005-08).

Washington was an afterthought of a basketball program before Romar arrived in 2002, and he has taken the Huskies to great heights during his tenure. Romar and co. won the Pac-12/10 twice (2009, 2012), he is a three-time Pac-10/12 Coach of the Year (2005, 2009, 2012) and he has reached the NCAA Tournament six times, with three Sweet 16 appearances.

Romar is coming off of four pretty down years, but the 57-year-old has a ton of energy and may just need a new opportunity to shine. His style would fit well in the ACC and his relationship with Barnes should help him get an interview if he wants one. Why would he leave a Washington program he essentially built by himself? Some guys relish a chance for a new challenge and after four average seasons maybe it’s time to move on.