Virginia Tech's most recent basketball coaching search lasted more than three weeks. The program can't afford a similar delay this time.
Not to suggest athletic director Jim Weaver repeat his two-day quest of 1999. That appeared impulsive, and the choice, untested Ricky Stokes, proved wrong.
Four years later, Weaver plodded through candidates such as Rhode Island's Jim Baron, Dayton's Oliver Purnell, Chattanooga's Jeff Lebo and East Tennessee's Ed DeChellis before hiring South Florida's Seth Greenberg, whom he fired Monday.
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But that 2003 search, from March 10-April 2, came during prime shopping season, when coaches are most nomadic and before the late signing period. Neither is the case now.
Best I can tell from scouring the web, Tech is among only four Division I schools looking for a head coach. The others are Brown, Grambling and Southern Mississippi.
The good news for Weaver is, he's not competing with other ACC-caliber programs. The bad news is, some coaches may be reluctant to move this late.
Which prompts the question: Is Virginia Tech a good job?
I asked three industry sources Tuesday: an active coach, former coach and active administrator. Each considers the position attractive but difficult.
"It's a lot better job than it was before Seth got there," the former coach said. "It's not like they go get their butts beat. They always seem to be on the cusp of getting an NCAA tournament bid and don't make it, sometimes fairly, sometimes maybe unfairly. I think they're in decent shape."
That's a fair assessment. In six of its eight ACC seasons, Tech has finished 7-9 or better. Three times the Hokies have reached the conference tournament semifinals.
Few would have projected as much when Tech joined the ACC in 2004.
"They're going to need a little bit of star power in that league," the former coach said. "Or someone who's such a good coach that he can win with (lesser) players and then win so much that he gets better players."
In an effort to keep current players and signees — bank on recruits Montrezl Harrell and Marshall Wood exploring their options — in maroon-and-orange, Weaver needs to find that coach quickly. Indeed, since Weaver said he made this decision last week, he should be well into vetting names.
I blogged Tuesday morning about 11 potential candidates, and myriad other names have surfaced on Twitter and message boards. Weaver says he will consider coaches of varying experience, but my hunch is he hires someone with big-whistle experience
The ACC simply isn't a place for on-the-job training. Of the conference's 24 coaching vacancies in the last two decades, only two went to rookie head coaches: North Carolina's Bill Guthridge and Miami's Frank Haith.
If Weaver is tempted to gamble on an assistant, he'd be wise to confer with the folks at VCU and Nike who run Villa 7. That's an annual gathering at which assistant coaches network with administrators, and administrators identify potential head coaches.
Villa 7 connections led to VCU's hirings of Anthony Grant and Shaka Smart, both of whom proved quality gets.
But if I'm Weaver, after making sure that Smart isn't interested, I consider head coaches such as Richmond's Chris Mooney, Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor and Murray State's Steve Prohm. Mooney took the Spiders to the Sweet 16 last season, Taylor has been to four NCAA tournaments in 11 years with the Monarchs, and Prohm's Racers won 31 games this season in his debut.
An off-the-radar guy: Keith Dambrot. His Akron teams have won at least 19 games in each of his eight seasons, and he coached LeBron James in high school. The LeBron connection — James conducts three camps at Akron — might impress recruits.
Is Mooney's buyout — he has nine years remaining on his contract — too pricey? Taylor too entrenched on Hampton Boulevard? Prohm too risky? Dambrot too wedded his alma-mater?
Weaver has many questions to answer. Quickly.
To read David Teel's bios on potential candidates for the Virginia Tech job, visit dailypress.com/teeltime