Now the question for Texas A&M is whether they want to be a major player.
Billy Gillispie got the Aggies onto the national map, Mark Turgeon brought the program another step forward and now with Turgeon off to Maryland, Texas A&M has a choice to make.
Take a run and pay a guy like Buzz Williams or Josh Pastner or get a second-tier guy for less money.
Williams was an assistant to Gillispie at Texas A&M and recruited guys like Bryan Davis, Donald Sloan, Derrick Roland, Josh Carter, B.J. Holmes and Nathan Walkup.
He has been the head coach at Marquette the last three years and taken the program to three consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Williams is the beneficiary of the ultimate compliment from opposing coaches more than just about anyone else over the last few years: ``He gets kids to play so damn hard.”
But it’ll take a hefty paycheck to lure the 38-year-old Williams, who makes in excess of $2 million per year, or Pastner – another Texas native – to College Station.
Pastner makes just shy of $2 million per year, but he’s gone through what should be the two most challenging years of his career. John Calipari left him the scraps in his first season and last year he had a bunch of young kids that needed to grow up.
Now he’s got a team at Memphis filled with just about all of his own guys (except Wesley Witherspoon) and the young Tigers also have some experience under their belt.
The bottom line is that, in order to get one of these guys, the basketball coach may have to earn more than the football college. It sounds crazy in a football-driven program, but that’s the reality.
Mike Sherman makes a little less than $2 million per year.
If Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne doesn’t want to pony up quite so much for a hoops guy, there should be plenty of other options that can get it done:
- Fran Fraschilla, the former St. John’s, New Mexico and Manhattan coach (he has a 176-99 mark in nine seasons as a head coach), who has been an analyst for ESPN. Fraschilla may jump for the right opportunity – and this would be it, especially since he lives in the state and has ties to the Texas AAU programs and also is plugged in with international players.
- Johnny Jones, who has won 20-plus games for the past five years at North Texas. Jones has a team that is favored to win the Sun Belt this year, but he’s a guy that has been around the high-major ranks from his days as an assistant at LSU (from 1984-97).
- Tim Floyd – He’s only been at UTEP for one season, but Floyd is a guy who can obviously coach – and also recruit. He came out of the O.J. Mayo deal unscathed at USC and could wind up being in play.
- Brooks Thompson - Played two years at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma State. His family is from there and he's turned around the program at UTSA. Thompson took over a program in disarray and went to the NCAA tournament this past season.
- Scott Spinelli - Turgeon's right-hand man and associate head coach certainly has done his part by landing guys like David Loubeau, Naji Hibbert and Khris Middleton.