REECER’S PIECE: Basketball coaching search has interesting options

John Reecer is the sports editor of the College Heights Herald during the spring 2016 semester.

John Reecer

With former head men’s basketball coach Ray Harper now gone, Athletic Director Todd Stewart now must make a decision on who will lead WKU’s most storied athletic program which is now at a crossroads.

Find the right man for this job, and the program could take off towards national respectability and maybe some NCAA tournament glory.

Find the wrong man for the job, and the WKU basketball team will consistently be found in the cellar of Conference USA for the foreseeable future.

No pressure, Mr. Stewart.

The question that is on the mind of WKU basketball fans everywhere is who will be the next WKU head basketball coach?

Obviously there is no definite answer to this just yet. However, President Gary Ransdell has given a list of attributes of what he wants in a head coach which include: head coaching experience, a seasoned coach, a proven winner, someone that has impeccable character, has no compromises in recruiting and someone who can be a leader of men and mentor to the players.

Considering that Ransdell will be a part of the final interview process, let’s take his list of attributes and apply them to the most popular names that are being tossed around for the position and see who could be the most deserving.

Out of all the rumored names, Dennis Felton is one of the most familiar. However, his is a name that doesn’t match up as well with Randsell’s attributes as other candidates do.

While Felton is seasoned and has a large amount of head coaching experience, it is debatable whether or not he is a proven winner. He did have a record of 100-54 while at WKU, but that was in the mediocre Sun Belt Conference.

When he upgraded to the SEC, Felton was anything but a winner at the University of Georgia where his record there was 84-91 overall.

Similar to Felton’s resume is Darrin Horn. Like Felton, Horn meets all of Randsell’s traits, but his “proven winner” status is questionable. He had a great record at WKU, but like Felton, Horn went to the SEC. Horn moved to the University of South Carolina and had a losing record of 60-63.

While they both are good choices for the position as they exhibit high character, the hire needs to be a great one and not a safe one.

There is no proof that either potential candidate will bring back the success they had with WKU. The program has upgraded to a tougher conference since their departure.

The program needs someone who has true winning experience in a tougher conference than the Sun Belt.

While names like Kenny Payne and Curtis Townsend from the University of Kentucky and the University of Kansas fit perfectly, they don’t have the head coaching experience that Ransdell prefers.

Another assistant coach that WBKO’s Chad Bishop has reported is a candidate for the job is Xavier assistant coach Travis Steele.

Steele has worked in a program that has seen a measurable amount of winning success the past few years.

However, Steele has no head coaching experience and is definitely not seasoned, being younger than the age of 32.

With the present situation, I personally don’t agree with the hiring of a young, talented coach who has never been a head coach before.

To me, the best possible options are John Pelphrey and Rick Stansbury.

Pelphery’s last head coaching stint was at Arkansas where he compiled a 69-59 record as head coach, leading the Razorbacks to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2008.

Stansbury is the most attractive possibility out of all the names being tossed around. In 14 long seasons at Mississippi State, he had a 293-165 record and six NCAA tournament appearances.

Stansbury is incredibly seasoned and may be exactly what this team needs.

While these names have considerable basketball knowledge and unquestioned character and would be good hires, I believe that either Pelphrey or Stansbury would be the best options to pursue.

Editor’s Note: President Gary Ransdell’s name was previously misspelled in this article. This mistake has since been changed. The Herald regrets this error.