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Let’s Speculate! Potential West Virginia head basketball coach candidates

Welcome to Let’s Speculate! on Coaches Database, where we go through programs that are or may soon be looking for a new head coach and speculate who they may hire next.

Today’s program is West Virginia, coached by Bob Huggins since 2007 (resigned/retired following DUI arrest).

  • Andy Kennedy – UAB head coach
    • The highest-profile standing head coach in the Huggins’ coaching tree is Kennedy, who signed an extension less than a year ago at his alma mater UAB after leading the Blazers back to the NCAA Tournament. Kennedy took over for Huggins at Cincinnati in 2005 after four seasons on his coaching staff there, then took the Ole Miss job a year later and led the Rebels for the next twelve years. He never seemed to get over the hump in Oxford, but did go to two NCAA Tournaments and won the SEC Tournament in 2013. The Mississippi-native doesn’t have any connection to West Virginia, but he has proven to be a solid coach and has March experience that will be crucial for success in Morgantown.
  • Jerrod Calhoun – Youngstown State head coach
    • Calhoun has known Huggins for two decades, having started his career as one of his student assistants at Cincinnati. Calhoun later spent five seasons on staff at West Virginia before taking over at D-II Fairmont State (WV) in 2012. He went 124-38 there and led the Falcons to a National Runner-Up finish in 2017. Now at Youngstown State (just about two hours north of WVU), Calhoun just led the Penguins to their first-ever Horizon League title and just missed out on their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid, too. The 41-year-old is going to get a lot of interest in the coming years if he keeps things up at YSU, but West Virginia could swoop in now and bring him back to Morgantown.
  • Pat Kelsey – College of Charleston head coach
    • Kelsey was mentioned for several vacancies in this cycle, despite the massive extension he signed with Charleston in February, and will continue to be a serious contender for power conference jobs following his team’s impressive 31-win season in 2022-23. Originally from Cincinnati, Kelsey is a prominent member of the Skip Prosser tree, having played for him at Xavier and worked for him at Wake Forest. His successful nine-year run at Winthrop had his name coming up for bigger jobs every year – he even briefly took the UMass job in 2017 before reversing course – and now Charleston knows it will be doing the same dance each cycle, too.
  • Bob Richey – Furman head coach
    • Another hot name from outside the Huggins circle is Richey, who in 139-54 in six seasons since taking over at Furman. He led the Paladins to their first NCAA Tournament in 43 years in 2023 and then pulled off a huge upset of 4-seed Virginia in their opening round game. The school rewarded him with a contract extension, though terms have not been disclosed. Richey is from New Orleans and has spent his entire coaching career in the state of South Carolina, but he can’t wait around forever for the Clemson job to open.
  • Jeff Boals – Ohio head coach
    • There are a couple current MAC coaches that could be in the mix, but one that makes the most sense is Boals. He is headed into year five at his alma mater, Ohio, and has led the Bobcats to four-straight winning records including a 25-10 record a year ago. Boals is an Ohio guy, but he has spent several years coaching in West Virginia with assistant stints at Marshall and D-II Charleston. He brings head coaching and and NCAA Tournament experience to the table and at 50 still has a long career ahead of him.
  • Joe Mazzulla – Boston Celtics head coach
    • Mazzulla is definitely a call that WVU needs to make, but it doesn’t seem like there is much interest on his part to coach at the college level right now, even at his alma mater. Thrust into the drivers’ seat in Boston just nine months ago, Mazzulla led the Celtics to the Eastern Conference Finals game seven and a nearly historic come-from-behind series win after falling behind 3-0 to the Heat. He played for Huggins and was captain of the Mountaineer’s team that made the Final Four in 2010. Maybe this is a better match in the future, but Mazzulla right now is in a great spot in Boston, having signed a contract extension in February.
  • Ron Everhart – West Virginia assistant coach
    • The most logical internal candidate is Everhart, who has been on staff at WVU since 2012 and before that spent eighteen years as a head coach at Duquesne, Northeastern and McNeese State. He is from West Virginia originally and should have support amongst the current players and staff. He turned 61 in January so he still, if he wants, has plenty of coaching years ahead of him. One knock on his resume is that he has never led a team to the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, but he has been with the Mountaineers for six NCAA trips in the last eleven years.
  • Ben McCollum – Northwest Missouri State head coach
    • We just finished hyping up McCollum for the Charlotte job, which ended up staying internal, but there is more to this one as WVU AD Wren Baker previously worked with McCollum at Northwest Missouri State. McCollum is clearly being choosy about his next move, as just about any D-I program would love to pull him away from the D-II dynasty he has built. He has never coached outside of the Midwest, but having a familiar boss in Baker maybe makes this a more ideal situation than some of the local jobs that he has been linked to over the last few years.
  • John Beilein – former head coach at West Virginia and Michigan (among others)
    • Beilein was the head coach at WVU from 2002-07, taking over a Mountaineers team that had gone 8-20 the year before he arrived all the way to the NCAA Elite Eight in just his third season. He bounced for Michigan after winning the NIT in 2007 and had tremendous success with the Wolverines, including two NCAA Runner-up finishes. His foray into NBA coaching did not go as planned and he is currently working as an advisor in the Detroit Pistons’ front office. Beilein is 70 so he is not a long-term solution, but he is potentially the perfect bridge between the Huggins Era and a new, younger head coach 4-5 years down the road.
  • Tom Crean – former head coach at Marquette, Indiana and Georgia
    • Venturing into the former head coaches without a current coaching gig world, Crean is probably the best option. WVU fans are hoping the program holds together as best as possible, but no one on this board has the kind of “clean up the mess” experience as Crean. His tenure at Georgia didn’t go well but he did plenty of good things at both Marquette and Indiana that warrant him getting another shot as a head coach. The 57-year-old is fantastic on television but continues to express a desire to get back onto the sidelines. Does he even want to tackle another rebuild, though?