If one word had to be chosen right now to sum up the names being mentioned in the Kansas State men's basketball head coaching search, it would have to be "underwhelming." Wildcat fans are knowledgeable enough to understand that athletic director John Currie will likely not be bringing in a high profile name, but does anyone get overly excited upon hearing names such as Tad Boyle or K-State alums Steve Henson and Tim Jankovich? Let's take a quick look at each of those three candidates whose names seem to keep getting mentioned and then let's check out a candidate kind of out of left field.
Starting with Tim Jankovich, you have a former player at K-State who has now been a head coach with Illinois State for the past five years. In addition to playing at K-State, he has vast experience with the Big 12 conference as he was an assistant for Bill Self at KU for four years and was previously an assistant coach at Oklahoma State and Texas. Another positive working in his favor is that he is currently a Division One head coach, so the Kansas State head job would not be his first rodeo. The main negative when looking over Jankovich though is the inescapable fact that he has not been able to lead his team to the NCAA Tournament during his tenure in Bloomington. If you are going to hire a coach from the mid-major ranks, you want to at least see a few NCAA Tournament appearances and preferably a deep run or two in the tournament.
Moving onto Henson, you have yet again another former Wildcat basketball player who has continued his coaching career at other schools. He is currently an assistant coach at Oklahoma with fellow K-Stater Lon Kruger, so he has experience playing and recruiting within the Big 12. In the past couple of days, Henson has let it be known publicly that he would very much be interested in the position assuming Currie would like to hire him. The main blemish on his resume is the fact that he has never been a head coach on any level, and if you are Currie, do you want to be handing off the program to someone taking over their first head coaching job? It's possible that Henson could come in and work as hard as he possibly can to keep his alma mater in the Top 25, but there is a chance he would simply be in over his head and the program could head back to mediocrity.
The person who seems to be getting mentioned the most is current Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. This seems to come from the fact that he and Currie worked together at Tennessee and supposedly have stayed in contact since then. In his two seasons at CU, Boyle has done well as he led the Buffs into the NCAA Tournament this past season while the year before, he helped lead CU to three wins over Frank Martin and his Wildcats. In addition to his coaching in the Big 12 last year with Colorado, he also played at Kansas in the 1980's so he is fully familiar with the conference landscape and what it would take to win in Manhattan. So even though the early returns on Boyle look promising and he could turn out to be the next great head coach in college basketball, the fact that he is only the head coach of a usually-bad Colorado program just drops the excitement level of his possible hiring.
So even though any of the three individuals listed above could turn out to be solid coaches, if hired, one would have to assume that Currie will be looking for a so called home run hire as his job could eventually be determined by who he picks.
One name that has not been listed anywhere for the K-State job that would not be a home run right off the bat but has the possibility of being one later is current Duke assistant coach Chris Collins. He publicly expressed his interest to be a head coach when the Illinois job was open so it is not that far fetched to make the leap to the Kansas State opening. If you can immediately just knock the memory of Quin Snyder at Missouri out of your brain and take a quick look at Collins resume it is fairly impressive.
He played at Duke and has been an assistant and now associate head coach there since 2000, helping the Blue Devils win two national titles. So even though he played and now coaches in Durham, NC he grew up in the Chicago suburbs and has been the main recruiter of Chicago for the Duke program. It was Collins who helped the Blue Devils land former sharp shooter Jon Scheyer from the Chicago suburbs. As many K-State fans can attest to after watching Jacob Pullen for four years there is some serious talent to be mined in the Chicago metropolitan area. He also carries some NBA cachet with him as well as his father is long time NBA coach Doug Collins.
Is there any chance that Collins will be looked at by Currie? It's doubtful, but it would seem that he might present more of an upside than the names currently being rattled off.
Then again, Missouri Tiger fans probably think it's the dumbest K-State coaching idea thrown out there yet.