This final grouping is made up of guys who have demonstrated that they have what it takes to assume the reigns of a programme like Duke.
They are accomplished recruiters, great on sidelines, and well respected by everyone. They are also the odds-on favourites on just about everyone’s list.
Here are our Final 3 candidates:
Keeping the conversation within the ranks of guys who has sat beside Coach K, his undeniably most successful is Mike Brey, who is currently the Notre Dame Head Coach. Mike never played under Coach K. He has been a trendsetter with his mock turtleneck shirts (which I liked a lot), to his ability to win with teams that ought not to on paper. Now, we all know college basketball games are not won on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, nor yellow legals pads, or even in the Cloud. It is won on the Hard Court, both home and away.
Mike sat next to Coach K from 1987 until 1995 when he was hired to coach Delaware. There he won two (2) American Conference Championships and was awarded two (2) Big Dance berths. In 2000, when Matt Doherty was inexplicably hired to coach North Carolina, Mike was hired away from Delaware (at Notre Dame). He has been to the Big Dance 9 times, and NIT 4 times while Notre Dame was in the Big East. He led squads that went undefeated at home in back-to-back seasons, which earned him Coach of the Year honours in the Big East and nationally. In the ACC, Notre Dame won the ACC Tournament in their 2nd year. They finished last year with a nail biting loss in the Elite 8.
Mike’s contract has been extended until 2022. While he may not be one of the top best paid Head Coaches in America, he does almost double his salary in bonuses and other income. He is one of only a few coaches whose school ardently self-enforces academics.
Some might believe that Duke could call him “home,” but I think that after 15 very successful years, he is probably as ensconced as Digger Phelps was. I think he will surpass Digger’s 20 years … I do not think he will make a move.
Mike Brey runs a successful program at Notre Dame. No other candidates we discussed on here has had the success that Brey has. That is his selling point.
Why wouldn’t he want to take on the challenge of following Coach K at Duke ??? They are in the same conference but at 56, Coach Brey is at the right age to take on the such a task. How long can he put up with being stuck at a school that he brings national attention to, but has to take a backseat to football ???
At some point he will have to decide to either shirk the wings of complacency and security for riches and fame. A job like Duke would decide if he is in Digger Phelps’ league (no championship) or Dean Smith’s.
When Jeff was a Starter for all of his 4 years at Duke, no one knew what type of future he might have after graduation. After a lackluster try as a professional, he joined his father at Old Dominion for a year, then Virginia Commonwealth for a year before becoming Head coach there. That made him the youngest Head Coach in Division I history at 27 years old. After a .658 record in 4 years, he was hired by Oklahoma, succeeding Kelvin Sampson after he was scrutinized for recruiting violations.
Jeff’s greatest accomplishment at Oklahoma was recruiting Blake Griffin, who led the Sooners to 25-1 in his 2nd, and last, season. Unfortunately, he lost an assistant to resignation due to scrutiny over improper benefits, which also triggered a loss of some recruits who would star elsewhere. After a year of playing secondary players, but not being implicated in his assistant’s transgressions, Jeff was fired. Coach K came a calling to rescue his former player from obscurity.
Jeff is now Coach K’s closest associate. He runs recruiting, and has been at Coach K’s side during the Olympics as well. Most folks believe that he might be the odds-on favourite to succeed Coach K, but I don’t. I never thought of Jeff as a great coach, just very fortunate. His coaching percentage is only .614 and his best years were on the back of a guy who is now an NBA All-Star. He seems to be happily ensconced at Duke in his present position. I say that because he has routinely turned down requests to interview elsewhere, most notably Arizona State, which went to fellow Duke alum, Bobby Hurley. He has been rumoured to have also turned down invitations to interview with Tennessee, Illinois, Auburn, Wake Forest, and others. He may hope he’s Coach K’s successor, but I just don’t see it happening.
Jeff Capel has proven that he is an elite recruiter, and guys like that will always have a job in college basketball. It is no coincidence that Duke has become a contender for the top recruits since he has come back into the fold. Everyday we hear rumours of how Duke is a lock for one or two recruits going all the way through to the 2018 class.
If Coach K was to suddenly leave these kids, their parents will want assurances that there will be a level of continuity.
If that is the case surely the best man for the job is the guy that was there from day one in the recruiting process.
I remember every moment I could get to see of Bobby Hurley’s career as a player at Duke. Back then, Duke was not the media darlings they presently are, and Al Gore had not yet invented the Internet because his “day-job” was to play US Senator from Tennessee. I remember the excitement I felt the night Duke won their 2nd National Championship with Bobby being named MVP. I also remember being moved to tears upon hearing of his near-fatal accident after a game for the Sacramento Kings.
Bobby is, of course, the son of High School coaching legend, Bob Hurley of St. Anthony’s in Jersey City, New Jersey. As they say, ” … the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree …” and it could not be more true with Bobby. After a stint as a Scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, Bobby joined his brother at Wagner for a couple of seasons, then Rhode Island for another. He then was hired by Buffalo where he won their conference each of his 2 seasons, taking them to the Big Dance for the first time in school history. After Jeff Capel turned down an interview to succeed Herb Sendek at Arizona State, they turned to Bobby and he accepted the interview, then the job.
It is apparent that Bobby is able to communicate exceptionally well with young men. The present stage in college basketball is being occupied by Freshmen desirous of using college as a quick stepping stone to the NBA. I believe that the stock of those coaches who can communicate with these very young men, and quickly convert them to top notch players, capable of contending for championships, will raise exponentially. Bobby certainly looks like one of those guys. He now has gotten himself to the “big time,” and I have every confidence in him.
Bobby will get to see fellow Duke alum Johnny Dawkins at least twice a year. While not the toughest conference in America, he will have to hit the ground running or he might find himself on one of the “hot seat” lists Johnny seems to get himself on. Bobby has promised to take his recruiting efforts, and build the school’s profile nationwide. He has recruits following him, two (2) Junior College transfers coming in, and is returning four (4) Starters. He’s assembled a challenging non-conference schedule that he sez he wouldn’t have done if he didn’t think the team could handle it. I’d say he’s off to a great start !!!
I believe that Bobby will be successful at Arizona State, which would position him perfectly to succeed Coach K, who has now embraced that youth movement I talked about. I predict that Bobby will come home to Duke to view his retired #11 jersey from the sidelines as their next Head Coach !!!
Bobby Hurley is rising very quickly, maybe too quickly. We have seen many boy wonders rise and fizzle out pretty sharply after a good start, like his fellow PAC-12 peer Andy Enfield, who is currently sitting on a very hot seat at USC.
Before Hurley can be considered for the Duke job he has to have success at Arizona State and that is easier said than done. Now Herb Sendek didn’t exactly leave Hurley with an empty cupboard, as the Sun Devils finished sixth in the conference, however they did rely on a few players who have now graduated.
Then there is the fact that some teams that finished below ASU are trending up due to great recruiting classes. Oregon State, Washington and California have all recruited well.
Hurley will more than likely be given a pass in his first year but, by releasing Herb Sendek, Arizona State has shown that they have aspirations above just being perennial contender in the PAC-12 which means that the new coach has at least a three year window to get the program there.
Coach Hurley has shown that he can coach at Buffalo, he now needs to show that he can recruit top talent at Arizona State, and contend with the likes of Sean Miller at Arizona.
Thanks for reading !!!
So … Who do you think is the “Best to Succeed Coach K” ???
Please tell and join the discussion, either here, or at our Twitter site: