It wasn't all that long ago that NC State fans and athletic director Debbie Yow were ecstatic with Mark Gottfried. He went to the NCAA tourney in each of his first four seasons and made it to the sweet 16 twice (2012 and 2015).
But the past two years have been a train wreck in Raleigh. The Wolfpack were 16-17 last season, but it was followed with high hopes as freshman Dennis Smith Jr., a projected NBA lottery pick, would soon make his debut.
Instead, the results -- and at times the effort -- has been embarrassing. Gottfried is gone, and now Yow will begin another search. The last one didn't fare well, and neither did the one before that, when alum and former NBA coach Sidney Lowe was hired and didn't go dancing in five seasons.
It's highly unlikely the Wolfpack turn to the NBA again and also highly unlikely that Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin makes the move, per sources. So we didn't include him in our breakdown of where Yow should look next.
Job descriptionNC State's coach needs to be able to deal with a passionate, sometimes highly irrational fan base that yearns for the days of Jim Valvano when the Wolfpack were national championship contenders. The coach will also need to be able to deal with going up against guys like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim.
There's another element for anyone who takes this gig to consider, and It concerns the athletic director. The coaching fraternity talks, and it's no secret that NC State athletic director Debbie Yow and former Maryland coach Gary Williams butted heads during their days together in College Park. That will likely scare some off, and Yow will be retiring in two years -- so there's also the added uncertainty of who will be the next AD.
Take a swing at
Archie Miller, Dayton
He's an alum and so is his wife. Even if this weren't the case, he's the one to go after, and we're told that's what will happen. We've also been informed, however, it's highly unlikely that Miller returns home largely because of some of the factors discussed above.
Unlikely, but worth a call
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State
Marshall said no the last time this job opened up, but it's worth revisiting if you're Yow. Some of the luster has worn off this season (the Shockers are tied atop the Missouri Valley), but Marshall still may feel as though it's not a significant enough jump from both a salary standpoint and a program standpoint.
Will Wade, VCU
Wade would bring energy to the program. He's done a terrific job since taking over for Shaka Smart and is on track to take the Rams to the NCAA tourney in each of his first two seasons. He can recruit, he plays an exciting style, and he has a fiery personality that would play well in Raleigh. But the question becomes whether this is the job that Wade leaves Richmond for or whether he'd rather see if he can get something he feels is better. Georgia or Clemson (his alma mater) could have openings.
Tom Crean, Indiana
This obviously depends on whether the Hoosiers make a move on Crean, who will likely miss going to the NCAA tourney for the second time in four seasons. Crean is Gottfried's polar opposite, and he is considered a strong X's and O's guy.
Chris Holtmann, Butler
He's done a tremendous job at Butler since taking over for Brandon Miller, and he's familiar with the state of North Carolina after being the head coach at Gardner-Webb from 2010-2013. He's headed to his third consecutive NCAA tourney appearance, but it's probably a long shot that he accepts an NC State offer.
Ben Howland, Mississippi State
This is Year 2 in Starkville, and it's not exactly going as planned (28-28 overall). Howland went to three consecutive Final Fours at UCLA and is considered a heck of a coach. He's also recruited well at Mississippi State. There's an Adidas connection here, and Howland and Gottfried also have the same agent.
Kevin Keatts, UNC Wilmington
The former prep school head coach and Rick Pitino assistant has turned things around quickly at UNC Wilmington. There was an NCAA appearance last year, his second season leading the program, and the Seahawks are atop the CAA again this year.
Matt McCall, Chattanooga
The former Billy Donovan assistant took the Mocs to the NCAA tournament last season, and while Chattanooga sits in at tie for third place in the SoCon right now, all that really matters is if McCall can win the league tourney again and get back to the Big Dance.
LeVelle Moton, North Carolina Central
It would be difficult for Yow not to notice what Moton has done because it has happened right down the road in Raleigh. He went to the NCAA tourney in 2014, won the regular-season title again in 2015 and currently has the Eagles in first place in the MEAC.
Joe Dooley, Florida Gulf Coast
He nearly left his head gig at FGCU to join Mark Gottfried's staff as an assistant last offseason. Dooley is a former Bill Self assistant who took FGCU to the NCAA tourney last year and could go again if he wins the Atlantic Sun tourney again. (The Eagles are tied for first place.)
Pat Kelsey, Winthrop
He would probably need to get to the NCAA tourney this year to be in the equation (the Eagles are currently in third place), but Kelsey won the Big South regular-season title last year
Give it the old college try with Miller and Marshall, and then make it nearly impossible for Wade to turn it down. He fits in just about every way.
This isn't easy. We think Yow ends up with a proven coach like Howland or Crean. It's a step up for Howland, and Crean may have no choice.