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Ranking the 10 Best Candidates for the WVU Head Coaching Job

Who will be the next head coach at West Virginia?

With West Virginia falling to the Cincinnati Bearcats in the opening round of the Big 12 Conference tournament, our focus officially shifts to the coaching search. 

Sure, others have had their "lists" out for a while now but out of respect to interim Josh Eilert, we decided to wait until the end of the season before having this discussion. 

Today, I rank the top ten coaches that would be a great fit for the WVU job. Be sure to note that this list is not put in order of their likelihood to land the gig - just my personal preference if I were in Wren Baker's shoes.

10. Amir Abdur-Rahim, USF

Kennesaw State had never experienced a winning season at this level prior to Amir Abdur-Rahim arriving. In his first year on the job, the Owls went 1-28. He continued to build, and build, and build, eventually scoring KSU a 26-9 season last year which came with a regular season title and conference tournament title. Now, he's doing the same thing at USF. The Bulls only had five winning seasons since the turn of the century when he took the job. In year one, USF went 23-6, winning the AAC regular season title. Very intriguing coach, but maybe a little too early to land a big-time gig.

9. Niko Medved, Colorado State

Medved, I'm indifferent on. I think he could be successful in the Big 12, but I don't have strong conviction that he would. His success has been up and down for the most part and has only one NCAA Tournament appearance to his name (so far). Certainly qualified, but I struggle to see the fit.

8. Dustin Kerns, Appalachian State

Kerns has had the Mountaineers a few games over .500 for the majority of his tenure but this season, App State really broke out. Kerns led them to a 27-6 record and a Sun Belt regular season conference championship. I like his potential, but I think he needs another year or two to prove he's ready for that jump to the next level. 

7. Andy Kennedy, UAB

Kennedy was included in the accelerated search last year. I haven't heard his name come up that much this time around but I'm sure he's somewhere in Wren Baker's mind. He's won 20+ games four years in a row with UAB and had nine such seasons as the head coach at Ole Miss. The past experience at a high major has to count for something, right?

6. Josh Eilert, West Virginia interim head coach

Eilert was dealt a tough hand - a situation that even the best in the game would have a difficult time managing. One thing after another led to a season that spiraled out of control in a hurry. He'll receive a lot of the blame for this year's poor record, but he shouldn't. He put this team together well after the portal was picked over, giving this team an extremely short rotation. He's been in Morgantown for a decade and a half and knows the program better than anyone on the list.

5. Steve Forbes, Wake Forest

I'm sure Forbes has cooled off for some people, but not me. I think he fits really well in West Virginia. He won 24+ games all five years as the head man at East Tennessee State and he's overachieved at Wake Forest - a place that doesn't have a strong NIL backing like WVU. Forbes is a great identifier of talent and knows how to develop it. Give him a place with more resources and he'll be considered one of the top 15-20 coaches in the country.

4. Mark Byington, James Madison

Although number four on my list, everything I've heard is that Byington is among the leaders for the job. In fact, he may be the guy. He's led James Madison to a 31-3 record to this point and had the Dukes ranked as high as No. 18 in the AP Top 25 poll. He's a native of Salem, Virginia, so he knows this recruiting footprint well and understands what it takes to win at a place like West Virginia.

3. Dusty May, Florida Atlantic

I understand May is considered the top mid-major head coach in the country by many, but I'm not quite as high on him as I am the next two guys on the list. Following a year in which FAU went to the Final Four, the Owls were a bit of a disappointment this year losing a few games they had no business losing. They're still a quality team and one that can do some damage in the tournament, but he's not my top guy. It took five years for the Owls to really breakthrough.

2. Darian DeVries, Drake

DeVries has won 20 or more games in all six seasons as the head coach at Drake, 25 or more in each of the last five seasons. He's a well-rounded coach that has his team really well on both ends of the floor. This season, Drake is averaging 80 points per game (37th nationally) and allow 70.5 per game (127th nationally) but that number is a little skewed thanks to their four overtime games. If he doesn't end up at West Virginia, some high major is going to get really lucky and be happy to have him. He's really close to being my No. 1 guy.

1. Pat Kelsey, College of Charleston

Kelsey is a young, energetic coach that can breathe new life into the program at WVU. He's been a winner in each of his 11 seasons as a head coach since his very first year, be it at Winthrop or Charleston. Over the last two years, Kelsey has led the Cougars to a combined record of 57-11 and back-to-back regular season titles. Kelsey has won a regular season conference championship in 50% of the years he's been the head man and has four conference tournament titles to go with it. The guy knows how to win.