Chat with Eamonn Brennan
Welcome to SportsNation! On Thursday, ESPN.com college basketball blogger Eamonn Brennan will be here to chat some college basketball. This week, ESPN.com has been ranking the best coaching jobs in the country, in addition to asking SportsNation's opinion.
Brennan started with ESPN.com in December 2009. He writes for the College Basketball Nation blog.
Send your questions now and join Brennan Thursday at 3 p.m. ET!
Eamonn Brennan (3:07 PM)
Hey everyone! Now that Game of Thrones is over, I suppose we should probably chat about some basketball. Get those questions in and let's get rolling.
Eamonn Brennan (3:08 PM)
First item of business: I am ready and willing to discuss any and all qualms, issues, concerns, or gobs of effusive praise (hopefully the latter) you may have about today's top 10 college basketball jobs rankings piece, which you can find here: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/8021169/ranking-nation-top-10-college-basketball-coaching-jobs
Scott (Lawrence, KS)
Emon- we've seen you guys break down the top coaching jobs by conference. What do you think are the top 5 nationally? I got 1. UK 2. UNC 3. KU 4. Duke 5. Indiana 437. Mizzou agree?
Eamonn Brennan (3:10 PM)
I'm glad you asked, Scott. See the above link. My top five differ but I realized when ranking the six bluebloods (UNC, UK, KU, UCLA, Indiana and Duke in some order) that it was almost impossible to tease out the differences. They're really all great jobs, any way you slice it.
I see Duke is only ranked as the 6th best coaching job in college basketball? That seems awful low for the most popular team in the country...agree?
Eamonn Brennan (3:14 PM)
I made the list, and I actually agree. How so? Because ideally I probably would have put all six bluebloods in a tie. My only issue with Duke -- and our criteria was that this is under the guise of a coach taking over for Coach K someday -- is a) how hard it will be to follow the winningest coach of all time and b) how much of the program's success is directly attributable to K himself. It's why UConn didn't get in the top 10 for me when Arizona did, and why I have IU above Duke: Both have already made the awkward post-legend transition and gotten back on their feet, with all the bells and whistles of the top schools in the country. That's the logic, anyway.
Does UNC's close connection to MJ have a lot to do with them being number one?
Eamonn Brennan (3:15 PM)
Yep. As I wrote in the piece: "More than anything, though, it's the "family" -- the scores of current and former pro stars who still come to Chapel Hill to play in alumni games and watch the young guns take on Duke. More specifically, perhaps, it's Michael Jordan. There may come a day when recruits won't want to follow the footsteps of the greatest basketball player of all time, when they won't remember or care what MJ meant to the sport, when His Airness's nostalgic brand won't bless anything it deigns to touch. That day has not yet arrived. Wear any retro Air Jordans you like, become part of MJ's college "family," even meet the man himself. If you can think of a better recruiting pitch for young basketball players, I'd love to hear it."
Stu (Laurel MD)
Do Duke and UConn Job still hold same relevance when Calhoun and K move on?
Eamonn Brennan (3:17 PM)
I honestly don't know. My best guess is yes, because I think once you get to a certain point in big-time college sports (whether football or basketball) when you're creating high expectations on a yearly basis, there becomes a sort of collective institutional velocity that keeps top programs afloat. It's why bluebloods stay bluebloods. But it's hard to answer yes or no, because we just haven't seen it yet with either coach and either school, all four of which are distinctly unique people/places.
Patrick Warren (The Moon)
What about the non-Power 6 conferences? What would be your top 5 or top 10 jobs from the collected midmajors (counting conferences like the A-10 and MVC)?
Eamonn Brennan (3:21 PM)
Excellent question. If we're doing all non-power six leagues, I'd probably have to go with UNLV, Memphis, Xavier, Temple, and Gonzaga with honorable mentions for Butler, Creighton, Wichita State, BYU, SDSU and New Mexico. I'm sure I missed one or two.
Chris (Burlington, KY)
UK is clearly the best coaching job over UNC. How many times has Roy Williams had to complaing about not filling up the Dean Dome? Rupp is always full!
Eamonn Brennan (3:23 PM)
If we were ranking best or most intense fan bases, UK wins in a landslide. That's not what we're ranking. We're ranking overall job desirability, and for those purposes I think UNC remains on top, if only barely. (I've actually been surprised by the response of some Kentucky folks on Twitter -- they aren't nearly as mad at me as I assumed. I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing, but hopefully the arguments were clear enough.)
Jay (Overland Park)
Where do you think Mizzou will finish in the SEC this year? Their fans that never show up to their games seem to think they are going to win the league?
Eamonn Brennan (3:24 PM)
I love that Kansas and Missouri fans are now trolling each other from afar. The hate is strong with this one.
I feel like everyone is missing one of the biggest drawbacks of the Kentucky job is also one of its biggest advantages, the fan base. While the size and passion of the fan base is a huge advantage, the expectations to me is also a huge disadvantage. Why would a coach want face championship or bust ultimatum every year knowing that one bad year and he is gone?
Eamonn Brennan (3:26 PM)
That was part -- a small part, but part -- of my rationale too. Look, if you had the choice between apathetic fans and Kentucky's, you take Kentucky's. It's such a built-in financial and recruiting advantage to be that insanely popular. Thing is, the intensity and support of the fan base can turn into anger if coaches don't live up to expectations, which is why Calipari -- who is not only winning but doing so with style media savvy -- is the perfect man for the job.
Whats the ceiling on Msu as a 'coaching job' is concerned. Arguably been one of the top 2-3 most dominant program in basketball last 10-15 years. What's the ceiling for Msu as far as how the nation could look at Msu in regards to the top coaching jobs in the future?
Eamonn Brennan (3:29 PM)
Again, as I wrote in the piece, despite Michigan State's tradition under Jud Heathcote, it's hard to tease out exactly how much of the program's success is Izzo and how much is institutional. The Breslin Center is great, but, no offense to East Lansing, it's not exactly Tucson, and the Spartans are largely battling with a ton of teams for the same midwestern players every year. That's why I left MSU on the cusp of the top 10. As for your question, it won't matter (and we won't really be able to figure it out) until Izzo retires, and that won't be for some time.
Ashamed Alum '05 (MD)
I blame San Antonio's Game 6 loss on the fact that the Spurs employ a man from Towson University
Eamonn Brennan (3:30 PM)
Best chat comment ever?
Eamonn, I may be wrong here, but you have never seen a game in Allen Fieldhouse have you? If not it's about time you get there. Maybe it would convince you to bump KU up a spot above Kentucky...
Eamonn Brennan (3:32 PM)
Nope, still somehow never been to Allen. It's on my to-do list. Last year I crossed off "See Duke-Carolina live" and that went pretty well (http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/7557367/duke-austin-rivers-lives-moment-north-carolina-tar-heels-college-basketball) so I'm trying to guarantee my editors they'll get a classic if they send me. Fingers crossed.
All I have to say about your Top 10 is.... good job, good effort
Eamonn Brennan (3:33 PM)
Second best chat comment ever?
No Texas on your list? less pressure, tons of $, great facilities, fertile recruiting ground. You are underestimating the Longhorn job!!!
Eamonn Brennan (3:36 PM)
I had a couple of college hoops people make this exact argument to me over dinner last night -- that Texas is a hugely desirable job because the fans aren't nearly as cutthroat as most programs that pay their coaches similar salaries. Throw in the recruiting and the fact that financially Texas is Texas, and it makes total sense. The only problem for me is, if I'm a coach, and my whole sense of existence is predicated on competition, do I really prefer a place where the gym is half-full in early December?
Jacob (Ponca city)
If the Miami heat lose the game to night is because those is not there year and rondo is just a cry baby and if he can't have his way he has to kick or hit peopleif rondo lose tonight then he is going to cry to his mommy so i think if b
Eamonn Brennan (3:37 PM)
Stop the presses -- THIS is the best chat comment ever. And from a Miami Heat fan, too! Good job, Jacob! Good effort!
Scott (Lawrence, KS)
I feel like you guys read my mind...although our top 5 may differ I feel like we can both agree that Mizzou is somewhere slightly below the Derek Zoolander School For Kids Who Don't Read Good.
Eamonn Brennan (3:38 PM)
Yet more KU-Mizzou trolling. At least we got a Zoolander reference out of it. Don't sleep on the Blue Steel.
I'll take the bronze medal in the best chat comments, you can give the gold to Jacob. Still laughing
Eamonn Brennan (3:39 PM)
You are a true sportsman of the highest order, James. I salute you.
Eamonn - great point about the half empty gym but it does seat >17k. If we had a "fieldhouse" it would be packed.
Eamonn Brennan (3:40 PM)
Fair point, but ... you're Texas. Of course you don't have a charming little fieldhouse. Nor should you.
Jacob (Ponca city)
Eamonn Brennan (3:41 PM)
No, Jacob. Thank YOU.
Would you rather be a coach of a lower tier major conference (Penn State, Iowa State, Providence) or of an upper tier school in a mid major conference (St. Mary's, Temple)?
Eamonn Brennan (3:43 PM)
I'll take the latter, just because it can be so hard for some of the middling high-major teams to gain traction in otherwise loaded conferences. But it's also occasionally easier thanks to scheduling. There are pluses and minuses to both, but in general I think Mark Few has long had the right idea.
Jay (Overland Park)
Lawrence has a "fieldhouse" and it is >16k. KU fans have no problem packing that for EVERY game. Start the KU/Texas trolling...
Eamonn Brennan (3:44 PM)
And so it begins ...
I know people talk about superconferences and D-1 consolidation in football, but are you worried that long-term, the same thing could happen in basketball? Fairly compentent leagues such as the Horizon and CAA are losing their big guns, and it feels like we're dangerously close to consolidating all the best non-football programs in the A-10/MVC/WCC trifecta. We're losing more and more of the middle ground between the haves and have-nots, and that's not healthy for the game.
Eamonn Brennan (3:47 PM)
In general I agree, but I will say that this does give small mid-major teams that stay behind in their realigned conferences greater opportunities to get to the NCAA tournament and build their own programs and brands. There's something to that; someone has to take the auto bid, right? But in general, you're right. Fortunately, as long as we have a single-elimination NCAA tournament, consolidation of all the gold bullion in the sport can't insure against the occasional upset. Just ask Duke.
Ryan (Dayton) [via mobile]
Eamonn thanks fior coming out of hibernation to talk some hoop. What are your thoughts on the A10s big east lite look this year with 16 teams?
Eamonn Brennan (3:49 PM)
I feel like I should note here, by way of shameless plug, that the College Basketball Nation blog is running on an essentially daily basis in the offseason, and that our great college hoops staff has already written scores of features and columns and all sorts of good stuff for your hoops-hungry eyeballs. No hibernation here.
Eamonn Brennan (3:50 PM)
As for the one-off 16-team A-10, I think it's an absolute beast -- it has Xavier, Temple, VCU, Butler, Saint Louis, plus another five or six emerging or fully emerged programs with their sights set on a tournament bid. That A-10 tourney in the Barclays is going to be a thing to see. Can't wait.
Tony (Richmond, CA)
Your hate mail box must be full of Kentucky Blue. You got it right though. The Dean Smith-Carolina legacy will fade no time soon. Is it more important for Duke or Carolina to find a suitable succesor for their current coach? The K disciples haven't faired very well on their own. Wouldn't you agree?
Eamonn Brennan (3:53 PM)
Actually, Kentucky fans have been pretty cool. (Though I admit I haven't read all the comments, where things tend to be a little less friendly than on Twitter and the like. Maybe later.) As for your questions, I agree -- Coach K's coaching tree has not had much high-level, high-profile success to date, at least not of the kind where you'd sit back and say, "Oh, THAT guy is the perfect guy to take over Duke when Coach K leaves." I'm not sure that guy exists, which is why it will be so fascinating to watch whenever Krzyzewski does eventually decide to call it a career.
Who ya got tonight--Boston or Heat?
Eamonn Brennan (3:55 PM)
Boston. Heat will jump out early, but the home crowd and some late stagnation by Miami will give Boston the win. Book it!
Sam Perkins, MJ, James Worthy all on the same team. Will we ever see this again with the ridiculous one-and-dones? I am old and miss teams learning how to play together.
Eamonn Brennan (3:57 PM)
The college basketball days of yore -- particularly the 1980s and early 1990s -- are lost and gone forever. But as Kentucky showed, NBA-level talents can still come together on the same team. Their learning curve is just extremely accelerated.
Over/Under on when Steve Donahue gets BC back to the dance (people forget they just went 7 out of 10 years). 2013-14 season, you taking over, under, or spot on?
Eamonn Brennan (3:59 PM)
I'll take the over, but not by much. There is a lot of work to be done, and the ACC is about to get gully when Syracuse and Pitt show up, but I think Steve Donahue has them on the right long-term track.
I might be crazy, but is UNLV a legit top 10 team? (Andy Katz doesn't have them in the top 25 for the coming season.) They have as much quality and depth in their bigs as any team in the country - Moser, Anthony Bennett, Khem Birch, former KU player Quintrell Thomas, and Carlos Lopez. USC transfer Bryce Jones will be playing. And if they successfully petition to get Roscoe Smith eligible, watch out. PG is a concern, but Anthony Marshall put up good assist numbers last year.
Eamonn Brennan (4:01 PM)
Assuming Smith isn't eligible (and if he is UConn will freak the eff out, and understandably so) I have to see Birch and Bennett put it together in the frontcourt before I put them in the top 10 range. But I absolutely love Mike Moser. Like, man-crush love. I am not sleeping on the Rebels one bit.
Why do you not discuss program profitability when talking about attractive jobs? U of L is a perennial top grossing program with a top 3 coaching salary in the country. They posses the nicest arena and practice facilities in the game. Why are the cards not ranked higher? and i don't want to hear more of your "they are the little brother in the state" remarks.
Eamonn Brennan (4:03 PM)
Because they're the little brother in the state? I kid, I kid -- though that does have something to do with it. Your points are all well-taken, and were included in my section on Louisville, but with the possible exception of OSU (and MAYBE Cuse) you wouldn't rank Louisville higher than anyone else on that list, would you?
With last years performance, and the recruits they have coming in, would you consider NC State as a national championship contender?
Eamonn Brennan (4:05 PM)
I wouldn't go that far, but I do think they're the favorite or second-favorite in the ACC and a real threat to make a deep run in the tournament. But that's all a projection based on talent from a team that barely snuck in to the tourney last year and recruits I haven't really seen play. I can't go title contender just yet.
How important do you think Jordan Hulls will be for IU to make a title run next year?
Eamonn Brennan (4:08 PM)
It's going to be really interesting to see how Tom Crean uses his senior point guard next season. Hulls is a bigtime defensive liability because of his size, and Crean has Yogi Ferrell, a top point guard recruit, arriving this summer; who could challenge Hulls for his starting spot right away. But Hulls's shooting is way, way, WAY too good to lose entirely. It was a big part of what made Indiana's offense so efficient last season. Plus, his leadership and IQ is crucial. I think Hulls will start the season at PG and eventually transition into a combo role as Crean tweaks his lineups and rotations to try and maximize a bunch of diffuse skill sets.
Eamonn Brennan (4:10 PM)
All right, we're past the hour mark, and I should probably go get some more work done. Thanks to everyone who submitted their questions. I leave you with words of wisdom from today's best commenter, "Jacob in Ponca city":
Jacob (Ponca city)
And they are making the heat scared like dale Jr because the Celtics are being them so i want the heat to win bad and dale Jr to win a race
Eamonn Brennan (4:10 PM)
Good job and good effort, everyone. Let's chat again soon.