Last week, after Northwestern announced that it had fired Bill Carmody, we put out our initial list of candidates to replace Carmody at NU. This week, we've narrowed it down to who we feel are the five most realistic candidates — well, the clear front-runner and four others.
Chris Collins — Duke assistant coach
Collins is far and away the leading candidate for the job, as expected. He's from Northbrook, Ill., is an assistant at Duke under Mike Krzyzewski and seems ready to take the step up to a head coaching job at this point in his career. And right now, just about everybody thinks he'll get the job. Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune reported that Collins will interview sometime this upcoming week and also has a source who would be "shocked" if it isn't Collins. The guys on the CBS Sports podcast, including Jeff Goodman, seem all but certain — well, actually, very certain — that Collins will be NU's next coach.
Then yesterday, Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Doug Collins — Chris' father and the current Sixers coach — has stated that it's his dream to be an assistant for his son. Considering Philadelphia's struggles this season and how much coaching turnover there is in the NBA, Doug could be out of a job at some point in the near future, and Hayes says that could mean a Collins duo in Evanston. Obviously, that's still a bit of a longshot, but it would certainly be a steal for NU.
From what's playing out right now, it looks very likely that Chris Collins will be NU's next head coach. However, even with an interview coming up soon, don't be shocked if the announcement is delayed, since Duke expects to be playing in the NCAA Tournament for quite awhile this year.
Dave Paulsen — Bucknell head coach
Paulsen led his Bucknell Bison to an 11 seed in the NCAA Tournament this year, thanks in large part to center Mike Muscala. He's been successful at Bucknell, and he has ties to NU President Morton Shapiro, and CBS Sports Network's Jon Rothstein says Paulsen is a "leading candidate" for the job. That may be true, and it makes sense, but he's clearly not "the" leading candidate. But if, for some reason, Collins doesn't end up at NU, expect Paulsen to get a very serious look.
Bryce Drew — Valparaiso head coach
Drew is a young coach that could bring a lot of energy to the program — a "basketball Fitz," if you will, which is what a lot of people have been clamoring for. Like Collins, he could also bring NBA ties — something NU hasn't had before and would be a good selling point to recruits. However, Drew has only been a head coach for two years and may not be ready to make the jump from the Horizon League to the Big Ten. Also, considering the success he's had at Valparaiso — two straight Horizon League regular season championships — and the point he's at in his career, he may not even want to make a move and leave his alma mater at this point.
Brett Reed — Lehigh head coach
Right now, Collins, Paulsen and Drew look like the three most likely candidates when you look at the different factors Jim Phillips laid out in his press conference last Saturday. Phillips wants an energetic coach with recruiting ties, someone familiar with NU's academic standards and someone with ties to NU's major recruiting areas — he wants someone with "broad" recruiting ties, but also wants NU to have a stake in the Chicago area.
After Collins, Paulsen and Drew, it's difficult to separate anyone else from the pack, but any popular mid-major coach who has had any recent success will have his name tossed in there. Put Reed into that group. Reed's team upset Duke last season in the NCAA Tournament and has been competitive in the Patriot League over the years. He'll have his name mentioned for a few coaching jobs this year.
John Giannini — La Salle head coach
File Giannini in there with Reed as a mid-major coach who will be tossed into the conversation for multiple jobs this year. He hasn't been wildly successful at La Salle overall, but made the NIT last season and finished third in the Atlantic 10 this year, sneaking into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team. La Salle won its play-in game for a 13 seed, beat fourth-seeded Kansas State, and now will play Ole Miss for a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.
As we mentioned, Reed and Giannini are only on here because they're coaches who have had recent success at mid-majors and would likely receive consideration if Collins, Paulsen and Drew don't work out. However, right now, Collins looks like the clear front-runner, with Paulsen and Drew in the next "tier." We'll have updates as more news comes out.