August 15, 2012 in Division I
It’s already established that Rob Murphy surprisingly leaving as Eastern Michigan head coach so late in August puts the Eagles in a bind. But they don’t have time to wallow in self-pity here. Time for an exciting, rapid-fire search for a coach on the fly who, oh yeah, will happen to be the program’s third coach in three years and have pretty significant pressure to maintain some stability when Eastern basketball has had anything but in recent history. So who will be candidates?
Jeremy of Eagle Totem has a suggestion, and he’s not that far from campus right now:
To be honest, I don’t think it’s that wild. Alexander was one of the first names who popped into my head. He’s respected, a good recruiter, was himself a standout player in Detroit and, although many wouldn’t expect him to get a head coaching opportunity this quickly, he’s certainly thought of as a rising star who will be a Division I coach someday. Alexander might be exactly the type of assistant who could infuse some energy into that program, keep the incoming recruits and transfers from wanting to jump ship and ease the transition in a difficult situation.
Tom Markowski and David Goricki of the Detroit News speculated about a few names the team might be interested in — Michigan State assistant Dane Fife (which seems like a pipe dream considering Fife just recently left a Mid-Major head job to be an assistant at MSU), former Utah coach and former MSU assistant Jim Boylan and Lehigh coach Brett Reed, a native Michigander. Eagle Totem also notes that Todd Lickliter and Tony Harvey, who interviewed for the job when Murphy was hired, could get consideration once again.
As I will when any in-state MAC job opens up, I will strongly advocate that Eastern give serious consideration to Mott Community College coach Steve Schmidt. Jared Field of Great Lakes Hoops did a good job of laying out Schmidt’s immense credentials when he was a finalist for the Central Michigan job in the spring, so I won’t rehash. But Schmidt is a proven and respected coach, he’s a fantastic recruiter who has successfully found talent in Michigan, particularly Detroit, as well as out of state in Chicago, Indianapolis, South Carolina, Memphis and Alabama, among other places, and his ability to build a program that is crowd-pleasing should really pique Eastern’s interest. Mott teams play physical, hard-nosed, fast, athletic basketball. Schmidt loves that style, and crowds respond. Mott has had to expand its seating several times to accommodate the growing crowds over the years and they even out-draw opposing teams in road games sometimes because their traveling fans are so abundant and loyal. On top of that, Schmidt has coached numerous players at Mott who have gone on to be good players in the MAC. Usually, though, they’ve had that success at out of state MAC schools because the in-state schools have been way to slow to embrace the high level of JUCO basketball in Michigan, to their own detriment.