News broke on Saturday that LSU and fifth-year basketball coach Will Wade would be heading in different directions. It came days after LSU received a Notice of Allegations from the NCAA following an investigation lasting approximately three years.
Although unexpected, the news was not shocking. Wade’s position at LSU seemed untenable at times, given the way these things usually play out. Sharks can only be fought for so long and for Wade that fight ended on Saturday.
The program is now in a strange position. He needs a trainer, but no one has any idea what situation that trainer will end up in. If anything has become certain over the years, it’s NCAA uncertainty.
LSU could be hit with heavy penalties or the administration could find a way out. Anyway, this will be a critical point in this research.
Sporting director Scott Woodward loves chasing the big names. He’s conducted a search for soccer, baseball, and women’s basketball since taking the job at LSU, and he’s hired a Power Five coach sitting in each of them. Imminent sanctions on the basketball program could prevent him from achieving that feat again, but he will definitely try.
With that in mind, here are several names that could show up in LSU’s search.
The first is the man Wade coached against in his last game at LSU.
Eric Musselman in just three years has become Arkansas in an SEC competitor. He is an Ohio native who was on the Tigers staff for just one year under Johnny Jones.
His only year on staff as an associate head coach was LSU’s only trip to the NCAA Tournament under Jones.
Musselman has a good thing in Arkansas right now, and it sure looks like that relationship is solid. It might be tough for him to leave unless Scott Woodward can sell him that LSU is a better job and, perhaps more importantly, that NCAA problems won’t persist with Wade’s departure.
Going after big name coaches is Woodward’s MO, and throwing a bag full of cash at a guy like Musselman might be his first choice.
When the football job was opened up, rumors swirled about Jimbo Fisher reuniting with Woodward at LSU. Fisher stayed put Texas A&M, but LSU’s athletic director may be looking to track down another coach he brought to College Station. Assuming Woodward has a high opinion of Buzz Williams, he’ll certainly gauge his interest.
Williams is in the midst of his best season with the Aggies, and they’ve also been known to splash the cash at College Station. It would take a massive offer to bring Williams to Baton Rouge.
He is no stranger to Louisiana, however, as his first-ever head coaching stop was at the University of New Orleans.
Williams leaving TAMU would be surprising. Not only would LSU have to pay him a lot, but buying out his current contract would also be important. Despite this, his name must be on the list given his ties to the SEC, Woodward and Louisiana.
The year before Grant McCasland took over at UNT, the Mean Green ranked outside of KenPom’s top 300. In McCasland’s freshman year, he had them in the top 150.
They’ve been in the top 100 for the past three seasons, including a 24-6 record this year with one of the best defenses in the country. He’s younger at just 45, so he might feel more comfortable taking on an impending rebuild at LSU than some other guys.
Having coached in Texas, he should be familiar with much of the recruiting landscape in and around Louisiana. He will also be a hot name for other jobs, and again Woodward will have to sell him on LSU.
Like McCasland, McMahon is on the young side and will also attract interest from other programs looking for a promising coach.
He’s spent the past seven seasons at Murray State and taken it to the NCAA Tournament twice already, and he’s now had his best season yet. The Racers rank 27th at KenPom amid a 30-2 season that saw them go undefeated in conference play.
In football, Scott Woodward has shown some hesitation when it comes to signing a youngster into a smaller program. In basketball, he may not have a choice. McMahon would be a more than solid hire given LSU’s situation.
- Cincinnati Coach Wes Miller could be an interesting option. Miller is just 39 and didn’t do much in his freshman year at Cincinnati, but he took UNC Greensboro to the NCAA Tournament in 2021.
- Illinois Coach Brad Underwood could be one of Woodward’s poaching candidates. Wherever Underwood went, he found success.
- UAB Coach Andy Kennedy is no stranger to the SEC after spending more than a decade at Ole Miss. He only led the Rebels to the tournament twice but did some good things at UAB. A stabilizer might be just what LSU needs right now.
- Baylor Assistant Jerome Tang is a name that was launched there too. He’s been at Baylor for 19 years now and he could be more than ready to lead his own program.
- If LSU feels the penalties will be really bad, Woodward may choose to stick with the interim as well. Kevin Nickelberry for a year while LSU plans an overview down the road.