Keep an eye on Marshall, Underwood

By Steve Sell
March 31, 2015

The college basketball coaching carousel is almost as exciting as the Final Four itself.

You can scratch Rick Barnes off the wannabe list. In lickity-split fashion, he has landed at Tennessee after being dumped by Texas.

Now the focus is on Gregg Marshall and Shaka Smart, not to mention — at least to folks around here — McPherson’s own Brad Underwood at Stephen F. Austin.

Reports came down today that Oklahoma State could be axing Travis Ford, whose Cowboy teams generally are regarded as underachievers. Where there’s smoke, there’s generally fire. My guess is Ford is probably gone.

Of course, the spotlight is on Marshall. The Wichita State coach time and again has said how much he enjoys being the Shocker head man, but to reach the top of the mountain, Texas would probably be his best bet, if they don’t hire Smart over Avery Johnson, whose name has been floated out there as he’s a former NBA coach with Texas ties.

My gut feeling tells me this is the time Marshall takes the money and runs. He’s down to his final go-around with Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, assuming both return as expected. Baker actually is a senior, but he redshirted a year. VanVleet really has done all he can do at WSU, but there’s not many 5-11 guards in the NBA.

While the Shockers’ bench was loaded with youngsters, they don’t appear to have the talent that would keep them in the Top 10. Marshall has signed some impressive recruits, but they’re players not high on the radar of the other national powers.

Then there’s Underwood. He has done nothing short of an amazing job at Stephen F. Austin with 61 wins and just eight losses. He knows the Big 12 from Kansas State, which might make the Oklahoma State job attractive should it open. If Marshall bolts, he might even get a look at Wichita State.

I don’t think I can ever remember a year where so many quality jobs have opened up. Underwood is hot right now after back-to-back NCAA appearances and while he could remain at SFA and be a big fish in a small pond, I’m sure the competitor in him would love to get a Big 12 job or even a shot at WSU.

The next couple of weeks promise to be exciting to say the least.