Coaches to Watch for the Virginia Tech Basketball Head Coaching Job

Coaches to Watch for the Virginia Tech Basketball Head Coaching Job

Tim Thomas | @TimThomasTLP

TLP: Editor
Apr 03, 2019

Virginia Tech and Texas A&M made it official today that head coach Buzz Williams is leaving the Hokies to take the job in College Station. Over the past few days, rumors have been circulating about potential candidates with it appearing clear that Whit Babcock is already well along in his search for the next head coach at Virginia Tech. With that said, here are some coaches we are keeping our eyes on with this search.

Marquette Head Coach Steve Wojciechowski

Steve Wojciechowski has been gaining the most traction on social media and in Tech fan circles with Wojo being the popular name on almost any message board. In addition to the speculation, there are some suspicious flight patterns that suggest that the Hokies have a lot of interest in Wojciechowski. Beginning of thread is included below. Now flight patterns aren't enough to say something like it's a "done deal" but there are too many coincidences to think that there isn't at least a significant amount of interest from the Hokies in Wojo that appears to have some extent of mutuality. Wojciechowski has plenty of ACC roots as he was an assistant at Duke for almost 15 seasons after wrapping up his collegiate playing career in Durham. During his five years in Marquette, Wojciechowski has made 2 NCAA Tournament appearances and 1 NIT appearance while achieving a 97-69 record. Most have also stated that this was a rebuilding job after the departure of WIlliams and a veteran team. Wojciechowski is also a young coach at 42 with plenty of Mid-Atlantic roots that could make him an ideal fit in Blacksburg. There has been talk as well that Wojo could be a candidate for the Duke job in the coming years when Coach K retires given his Duke roots though Notre Dame's Mike Brey would likely be the top guy given his Duke assistant roots. If Wojciechowski was a top target for Duke at that time, it would be a great sign for the success of wherever he is employed, whether that's Marquette, Virginia Tech, or someone else. Much of this is speculation but given the high amount of smoke surrounding Wojciechowski, it appears clear that at a minimum, Wojo is a top candidate for the now open job in Blacksburg.

Seton Hall Head Coach Kevin Willard

While Wojo has been the most buzzed about name in recent days, Kevin Willard's name gained a lot of buzz today after the announcement with Jon Rothstein, Adam Zagoria, and the New York Post all mentioning Willard with the head coaching gig in Blacksburg. Willard has done an impressive job at Seton Hall especially in recent years with four-straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2016-2019 after the Pirates hadn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2004 while also winning the Big East Tournament title in 2016. During his nine seasons at Seton Hall, Willard has gone 169-126 after taking Iona from 12 wins in years 1 and 2 to a 21-10 season in year 3 that earned him MAAC Coach of the Year honors. Willard has made Seton Hall one of the Big East's most consistent programs in a conference where they may have the smallest brand and name recognition other than DePaul and have the difficult challenge of playing in an oversized NHL arena in New Jersey. Willard, like Wojciechowski, is a young coach on the rise who will turn only 44 this week and definitely is someone that could build on the foundation that Williams has left. Given all the national buzz, it's clear that Willard is right around the top of the list for Babcock alongside Wojciechowski.

Wichita State Head Coach Gregg Marshall

Gregg Marshall almost always comes up as a dream candidate given the Wichita State head coach's Virginia having been raised in Roanoke and gone to college at Randolph-Macon College near Richmond. With Wichita State's NIT run wrapping up, the window is truly open for the Hokies to pursue Marshall if they would so choose to. There's no doubt that Marshall would be a home run hire with Marshall going to seven-straight NCAA Tournaments including a Final Four in 2013 before this season along with 7 NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons at Winthrop before his arrival in Wichita. One thing that may surprise some is the fact that Wichita State likely could match any offer with the Shockers reportedly paying Marshall around $3.5 million per year already. Much of the Hokies' pitch would likely be built around Marshall coming home to Southwest Virginia to finish out his career with Marshall being in his mid-50s and possibly considering soon where he may want to finish his career, whether that's at Wichita or another power conference program with a higher profile. Marshall is going to be a name to keep an eye on until the job is filled or he comes out and makes a denial that would be surprising given the lack of buzz around his name surrounding this job. However, there's no denying that Marshall would be a home run pickup for the Hokies should that be the case.

Cincinnati Head Coach Mick Cronin

Mick Cronin was the first name thrown around once the rumors surrounding Buzz Williams to Texas A&M picked up largely due to the connection from Babcock's previous time as the athletic director at Cincinnati. Cronin has also been credited in the past for being a middle man who helped set up Babcock and Buzz Williams when Babcock first hired Williams back in 2014. While speculation blew up initially, there hasn't appeared to be much traction for Cronin to date. Part of that may be due to some of the rumors surrounding Cronin being in the hunt at UCLA though TCU's Jamie Dixon is reportedly the frontrunner for that job. While Cronin has had some back-and-forht with Cincinnati's current administration, it's hard to imagine the Cincy native and Bearcat alum leaving given the success that he's had there. Cronin shouldn't be ruled out as a possible name, but it seems unlikely that Cronin would leave Cincinnati even given his past time spent working with Whit Babcock.

Wofford Head Coach Mike Young

If Virginia Tech gets past the higher-profile power conference guys, Wofford's Mike Young likely would be a name to watch. Young gained lots of attention as he led his Terriers to a perfect conference record in an improved Southern conference on their way to earning a 7 seed and pushing Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Young has put together an impressive tenure at Wofford with 4 NCAA Tournament appearances and a 299-244 record during his 17-year tenure in Spartanburg, SC where the Terriers just recently built a modern arena. Before that arena, Wofford was considered one of the toughest jobs in the Southern Conference. Young is older as he's set to turn 56 in May, but Young has roots in Southwest Virginia having been born and raised in Radford, Virginia. Additionally, Young also went to school at Emory & Henry and was an assistant coach at both E&H and Radford before taking a job as an assistant at Wofford. The one thing that could hold Young back if he gets the offered the gig is the fact that he's been at Wofford since 1989 though the appeal of an ACC job with a much larger salary in his home region of the New River Valley would likely be too much for Wofford to overcome.

Photo Credit: Jake Roth

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