Rutgers fired Eddie Jordan on Thursday.
So Rutgers’ men’s basketball job is now officially open.
Here is a list of some candidates whose names could surface …
Dan Hurley (Rhode Island head coach)
Hurley is the obvious coach that could excite fans and possibly pull the Scarlet Knights out of the Big Ten’s basement. He’s a New Jersey native and former Rutgers assistant who has done well as a head coach at both Wagner and Rhode Island. No, he’s never made the NCAA Tournament. But that has more to do with injuries and bad luck than it does the type of program he’s built and run at URI. Bottom line, if there’s a so-called home run to be hit with this hire, on paper, Hurley appears to be the home run Rutgers will try to hit.
Mark Schmidt (St. Bonaventure head coach)
Schmidt is on the verge of taking St. Bonaventure to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in a five-year span thanks to a 14-4 record in the Atlantic 10 that brought the Bonnies a share of their first league title since 1958. He’s the reigning A-10 Coach of the Year and someone who has overchieved relative to what his job suggests should be possible, which is essentially what somebody will have to do to be successful at Rutgers.
Steve Pikiell (Stony Brook head coach)
Pikiell inherited a bad program in 2005 and slowly turned it into an America East power. He’s won the league in four of the past seven seasons — which, for what it’s worth, is the same rate at which John Calipari has won the SEC. The only thing missing from Pikiell’s resume is an NCAA Tournament appearance. But that could change this month.
Herb Sendek (Ex-Arizona State head coach)
Sendek has guided three schools to the NCAA Tournament — most recently Arizona State in 2014. And he’s still only 53 even though he’s spent 22 years as a Division I head coach. Truth is, this hire wouldn’t qualify as inspiring. But Sendek is respected by his peers. And if Rutgers simply wants an accomplished veteran who can bring stability to the program — like what Texas Tech wanted when it hired Tubby Smith — then Sendek makes sense.
Tim Cluess (Iona head coach)
Cluess is from the area and has finished first or second in the MAAC in five of his six seasons at Iona. He’s 50-10 in the league in the past three seasons. And he will, next week, coach for a third time in the NCAA Tournament, where a win or two could aid his candidacy.
King Rice (Monmouth head coach)
Rice broke through at Monmouth this season and won the MAAC’s regular-season title after recording victories over Notre Dame, USC, UCLA, Georgetown and, yes, Rutgers. He’s from New York. So he knows the area. And he could be an even hotter name if Monmouth gets an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and then upsets somebody on that big stage.
Zach Spiker (Army head coach)
The list of men who have achieved anything resembling success at Army is basically Bob Knight, Mike Krzyzewski and Spiker. He led Army to its first winning record since 1985 when he finished 16-15 in 2013. And, this season, he won a career-high 19 games while becoming the first Army coach to win at least 15 games in four straight seasons since the 1920s.
Steve Masiello (Manhattan head coach)
Masiello makes sense on a variety of levels — mostly because he’s a young and aggressive coach from New York who has already been to two NCAA Tournaments even though he’s only 38. But the problem is that he’s coming off of a losing season, which is something that typically scares athletic directors away from candidates. The other issue is that the same search firm that handled USF’s search two years ago — i.e., the search that led to Masiello being offered the USF job before the search firm uncovered he wasn’t, at the time, a college graduate — will reportedly handle Rutgers’ search. And that can’t possibly be considered a positive for Masiello.