Who's got next? Here are some coaches Notre Dame could consider to replace Mike Brey
SOUTH BEND — Who’s next? Who knows?
Let's get this out of the way now — nobody has any idea who the next coach of the Notre Dame men’s basketball team will be after the Tribune learned Thursday afternoon that Mike Brey will finish out his 23rd and final season at Notre Dame before leaving as the winningest coach in program history.
Nobody knows who’s next, maybe not even athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who has insisted countless times during interviews over the years that he does not keep any sort of working list in a desk drawer in case of emergency.
Who might get a call? Here’s a few in alphabetical order. One question you have to ask yourself when perusing possible candidates is, how good of a job is the coach of Notre Dame men’s basketball?
Short answer — probably not as good as you think it is. It’s a hard job. In a hard time for college athletics. In one of the hardest leagues in the country. But it’s the job, and somebody has to do it. Maybe one of these 15 guys will.
Special development assistant, Detroit Pistons
His dream job has long been to coach at Notre Dame. It didn’t take Beilein long to flip programs at West Virginia and Michigan into perennial national powers, and he did it by doing less with more. That the 70-year-old has been out of the college game since 2019 might be a concern. Has it passed him by? Would he have the necessary juice this program needs?
Head coach, James Madison
An assistant coach at four schools previously, Byington is in his second stop as a head coach after seven seasons at Georgia Southern, where his last three teams all won at least 20 games. Byington has roots in ACC country and his teams often play a fast and focused fan-friendly style.
Head coach, Drake
Could the head coach of a private university in the Midwest be ready to make the jump to another private university in the Midwest? In DeVries’ first four seasons at Drake, the Bulldogs won a school record 95 games. He's a two-time Missouri Valley coach of the year. He’s been at Drake for five seasons. Might not be six.
Assistant coach, Oklahoma
Humphrey fits the profile of how Swarbrick has previously hired in football (Marcus Freeman) and women’s basketball (Niele Ivey) — a black coach with no previous head coaching experience who just fits.
Humphrey fits. He definitely would have the personality for the position. He left Notre Dame last summer for Oklahoma, in part to get a different perspective of coaching in college basketball. He’s a future head coach somewhere. Is it at his alma mater?
Head coach, Delaware
The most successful former Brey player/assistant coach as a head coach, Ingelsby drove the Blue Hens to the NCAA tournament for the first time in his career last season. Does Swarbrick want to stay on the Brey coaching tree or branch out? If it’s the former, Ingelsby would be a solid choice. No coach in the country knows the place — and how to recruit to it — better.
Head coach, Charleston
Kelsey’s made quick work of his short time in Charleston, which won 17 games last year in his first season and was ranked in January this season for the first time since 2002-03. The 45-year-old entered 2022-23 with 203 career wins, one of only four active head coaches to win at least 203 games in 10 or fewer seasons.
Keep a close eye on Kelsey.
Head coach, Florida Atlantic
A former assistant coach at Florida, who served as a student manager at Indiana during his college days, May has led FAU to four straight winning seasons in his first four seasons. He’s young. He’s energetic. He might be ready.
Head coach, Rutgers
If you can win and get to the NCAA tournament multiple seasons at Rutgers the way Pikiell has done over the previous six seasons, you can probably win anywhere. He’s a really good in-game coach and a relentless recruiter. If you can get players to Piscataway, you can get them to South Bend. At $1.6 million, his salary would fit for Notre Dame.
Head coach, Iona
Want to prove that this program can stand annually alongside the likes of Duke and North Carolina and be a true national power player? Hire one of the best college coaches in the game. Ever. He and his previous (excessive) baggage aren’t for everybody, but his results are. Pitino will win. Watch.
Assistant coach, Miami Heat
The former Irish point guard may believe he’s in line to become an NBA head coach, which is one reason why he turned down a chance several years ago to join Brey’s staff as an assistant. He’d establish a similar type of Heat/Pat Riley type of culture in South Bend as there is down in South Florida.
Head coach, Furman
In his sixth season as head coach and 12th overall, it might be time for a change for the 39-year-old, who’s led the Paladins to four-straight 20-win seasons for the first time in school history. He also graduated North Greenville (S.C.) University summa cum laude, so you’d have a smart coach coaching smart kids at Notre Dame.
Assistant coach, UCLA
He’s been Mick Cronin’s right-hand man since their days together at Cincinnati, where he game-planned against Notre Dame. Savino also coached at Rutgers and is a New Jersey native, so he knows where to find prospects along the all-important I-95 corridor.
Head coach, Penn State
Once upon a time, the former Butler and Boston Celtics assistant coach became the first full-time coach in the history of the IU South Bend men’s basketball program. He’s quickly turned that Penn State program from suspect to solid.
Assistant coach, Dallas Mavericks
Word is that being the head coach at Notre Dame is a “dream job” for Sweeney, who has such an affinity for the campus — and the football program — that he has an offseason home in South Bend. Sweeney interviewed with Brey last summer for the spot on his coaching staff that eventually went to Hamlet Tibbs.
Associate head coach, Virginia
Now in his 22nd season as a college assistant, the Virginia native has spent the last 14 at Virginia alongside Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers have done a lot and won a lot during his time in Charlottesville. Williford hasn’t had any reason to leave his alma mater. Becoming a head coach in the ACC, where he’s generally regarded as the top assistant in the conference, might be one.
Head coach, Phoenix Suns
Probably the longest of the longshots given he makes about $3 million per year. It’s still worth a call to someone who’s considered among the elite of the elite at the game’s highest level. He may not have that strong an emotional pull from the alma mater that would make him give that up. But you’ve got to call him.
He’d be a home run hire. Just like the guy he would follow.