Ring Leaders

2007-11-11T00:00:00Z Ring Leaders Arizona Daily Star
November 11, 2007 12:00 am

The 10 coaching changes that rocked college basketball:

1 - Billy Gillispie, Kentucky. — The Texas A&M coach agreed to a contract extension but never signed it. The result: The Wildcats wooed him to replace Tubby Smith to the tune of $2.3 million per year.

2 - Steve Alford, New Mexico — If you like Southwestern sports, you better believe the hiring of Alford — who walked away from Iowa — will be a boon to the region's respectability.

3 - Rick Majerus, Saint Louis — The coach has teased suitors in the past — remember USC? — but seems to have found a home. He inherits a bad team but has an $80.5 million arena ready to open in a year. And he looks like the Billiken, which is cool.

4 - Tony Bennett, Washington State — Wait, Bennett did not leave? Surprising onlookers, the Wazzu coach agreed to a seven-year deal to stay after being named by many publications as their national coach of the year after one year on the job.

5 - Dino Gaudio, Wake Forest — In one of the most touching stories in sports this year, Gaudio was chosen to replace his longtime boss after Skip Prosser died of an apparent heart attack.

6 - John Pelphrey, Arkansas — Stan Heath took his team to the NCAA tournament but was fired; Dana Altman took over, but bolted back to Creighton within a matter of days. The Razorbacks settled on Pelphrey, the South Alabama coach who brings his "mother-in-law defense" — in his words, "constant pressure and harassment."

7 - John Beilein, Michigan — With the Tommy Amaker experiment finally failed, the Wolverines brought in the West Virginia coach who teaches one of the most fun offenses in America. Amaker is now the coach at Harvard.

8 - Bob Huggins, West Virginia — Kansas State gives Huggins a chance, and he does what? Stays for one year, then bolts for his alma mater. Was anyone really surprised?

9 - Tubby Smith, Minnesota — Wanting to be wanted, Smith stealthily left Kentucky and its ridiculous expectations to become the head Golden Gopher.

10 - Dan Monson, Long Beach State — Remember him? The old Gonzaga coach struggled at Minnesota, where prior NCAA sanctions handcuffed him for five of his seven years. Once one of America's hot young coaches, Monson is trying to turn around The Beach.

— Patrick Finley

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