Successor Series: Who takes over for Bill Self at Kansas?

Friday June 20th, 2014

The Successor Series will examine who might replace some of the bigger names in college basketball when they inevitably leave their posts. It is intended as pure speculation -- fodder for discussion in the long hoops offseason. That said: Down the line, we reserve the right to claim we knew it all along.

Bill Self, Kansas

Career Record: 532-174

NCAA titles: One (2008)

In 11 seasons at Kansas, Self has won 82 percent of his games. His teams have at least shared a piece of the Big 12 title for 10 straight years. A 25-win season qualified as underachieving this year, in that it ended a streak of four consecutive campaigns with at least 31 wins. Two of the Jayhawks' stars – Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid – were selected in the top 3 of the NBA draft. Meanwhile, the program reloaded by signing three top-40 recruits, including two of the nation's top-10 players in Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre.

In short, Self, 51, is doing well in Lawrence and probably isn't going anywhere soon.

But in the event that Self gets an itch for a new challenge or other circumstances conspire and he departs, who might Kansas turn to as a replacement? The program has had just two coaches since 1988 – Roy Williams and Self. Kansas' next coach will have high standards to uphold.

If Self left tomorrow

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Thad Matta, Ohio State head coach. Before a fifth-place finish in 2013-14, Matta's teams had finished first or second in the Big Ten for five straight seasons. He's been to two Final Fours with the Buckeyes. But the school spent a relatively modest $5.9 million on basketball in 2012-13, per U.S. Department of Education figures. Kansas spent nearly twice as much, at $10.7 million in expenses. Basketball always will run second to football in Columbus. Kansas is simply a step up in class, and perhaps that will be enough to lure Matta. His track record as a recruiter – bringing in Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Jared Sullinger and others – is well established. He would be that approachable face of the program that Williams was and Self is. And he can win some games, too.

Tony Bennett, Virginia head coach. The personable 45-year-old Bennett is a hot commodity after leading the Cavaliers to 30 wins and both the ACC regular season and tournament titles last year. He's a Wisconsin native but has won out West at Washington State (two NCAA tournament berths in three years) and now on the East Coast. He's recruited seven four-star prospects to Virginia across six seasons, but undoubtedly Kansas fans would wonder if Bennett could lure the most elite prospects to Lawrence. And given that the Cavaliers ranked 346th out of 351 teams in adjusted tempo this year, Bennett might have to adjust his style for those high-end recruits who are simply looking to showcase their NBA abilities.

Danny Manning, Wake Forest head coach. Realistically, Manning is more of a long-term solution. Kansas would want to see him revive Wake Forest before it comes calling. He has only two years of head coaching experience, posting a respectable 38-29 record at Tulsa. But this is Danny Manning, who was the star of Kansas' 1988 national title team. More practically, he was on the KU bench as an assistant from 2006-12. He knows the place as a player and coach. He seems a better potential down-the-line fit for Kansas, but Jayhawks faithful might give him the benefit of the doubt if it happened sooner.

Long shots and long-range plans

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Tad Boyle, Colorado head coach. Boyle is a 1985 Kansas graduate, and he's won 65 percent of his games at Colorado, making three straight NCAA tournaments. He's 51, which isn't exactly long in the tooth – but the longer Self stays, the more the age factor might work against Boyle. He also might need a couple more truly standout seasons with the Buffaloes to stand out in a search process.

Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic head coach. Vaughn played at Kansas from 1993-97 and is 43-121 in two seasons in the NBA. Who knows if the 39-year-old Vaughn would want to coach at the college level or if the timing would align such that Self leaves and Vaughn has been successful enough to warrant a call. But he is one of Kansas' own.

Sean Miller, Arizona head coach. Miller has already established himself at basketball-centric schools, having won 72 percent of his games at Xavier and Arizona, and his teams have made three Elite Eights in the past seven years. If Miller is keen to return to the Midwest one day, Lawrence might be a good fit.

Mark Turgeon, Maryland head coach. It's a longshot only because Turgeon needs to get it together with the Terrapins first. The Topeka native played at Kansas and served as an assistant from 1987-92, and he would probably jump at a chance to lead the program. But he's missed the NCAA tournament in all three seasons at Maryland. If he turns it around as the program enters the Big Ten, he could be on the list.

Gregg Marshall, Wichita State. Marshall's biggest knock may be that he's been too good, too close to home for Kansas. He's made a Final Four and put together a 35-1 season with the Shockers the past two years. He also referred to the Jayhawks as “Chickenhawks” in 2011 when discussing the issues of trying to schedule Kansas. All of it might undermine what, on the surface, seems sensible.

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