With the 2014-2015 college basketball season about to tip off, quite a few Division I men’s hoops head coaches will be making their debuts with new programs big and small across the country. Some of the names may be familiar (ex-Mizzou coach Frank Haith at Tulsa, former Hoosier boss Kelvin Sampson at Houston, one-time NBA assistant coach Dan D’Antoni at Marshall, just to name a few), while others are relative unknowns. Some have head coaching experience in the past, while many, such as Marquette’s Steve Wojciechowski and USF’s Orlando Antigua, have made their mark up to this point as assistants.
Although there are literally dozens of head coaches taking over D-I programs for the first time in 2014-2015, some of these men might be facing a bit more pressure than their counterparts as they begin work with a new team from one of the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC). Here is a quick look at the nine coaches who are inheriting power-conference programs this season, only one of whom was coaching a power-league university at this time last year. Get to know these coaches (and where they came from) now, because you never know which ones might become household names with their new schools by the time March Madness rolls around! (Schools are listed in alphabetical order, with all stats from Sports-Reference.com.)
Auburn: Bruce Pearl
Bruce Pearl has been out of coaching since 2011 after the NCAA gave him a three-year show-cause penalty: The former Tennessee coach infamously hosted recruit Aaron Craft at a 2008 cookout and then lied about it. Pearl led his teams (first at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, then at Tennessee) to the NCAA tournament in eight of his last nine seasons as coach, and the Auburn Tigers, who haven’t been dancing since 2003, were willing to take a chance on a proven winner.
Boston College: Jim Christian
New Boston College coach Jim Christian has a dozen years as a D-I head coach under his belt, including stops at Kent State, TCU, and most recently, Ohio, with eight postseason trips to his credit. Christian is the all-time MAC leader in winning percentage and will be attempting to get the Eagles back into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
California: Cuonzo Martin
Cal’s Cuonzo Martin (pictured) has won 60% of his games through the first six years of his head coaching career (three at Missouri State, then three at Tennessee). Martin took the Vols to the Sweet 16 this past March, but some UT fans never forgave him for not being his predecessor Pearl, and Martin jumped at the chance to head West and take over the Golden Bears, a program that’s posted a winning record for seven straight seasons.
Missouri: Kim Anderson
Mizzou replaced departing Frank Haith with Kim Anderson, a former Tigers player and the 1977 Big Eight Player of the Year. Anderson comes to Columbia from the University of Central Missouri, where he coached for a dozen years, capturing the 2014 Division II national championship and winning nearly three-quarters of his games. His alma mater expects big things after missing the national tournament for the first time in six years in 2014.
Oregon State: Wayne Tinkle
Wayne Tinkle took Montana to the Big Dance three times in the last five years, and now he succeeds Craig Robinson (better known as President Barack Obama’s brother-in-law) on the Oregon State sideline. Tinkle inherits a difficult task trying to win big in Corvallis, as none of his players were even born the last time the Beavers played in the NCAA tournament (1990).
Tennessee: Donnie Tyndall
The Volunteers will try to build on last year’s NCAA run with new coach Donnie Tyndall, who just finished his second campaign at Southern Miss after a half-dozen seasons with Morehead State. Tyndall has won at least 18 games in each of his last six seasons, and while at Morehead, famously authored an upset of fourth-seeded Louisville in the 2011 NCAA tourney (one of two trips his Eagles made to March Madness).
Virginia Tech: Buzz Williams
Buzz Williams (pictured) takes over the Hokies after seven seasons at Marquette, including five straight trips to the NCAA tournament. Williams got his start as a D-I head coach at New Orleans in 2006-2007 before the Golden Eagles came calling. Virginia Tech has only gone dancing twice in the last 28 years, so Williams has his work cut out for him.
Wake Forest: Danny Manning
Danny Manning, who won a national championship as a player with Kansas in 1988, will try to do the same thing as a head coach in the coming years. Manning spent the last two years at Tulsa, leading the Golden Hurricane to the Conference USA regular-season and tournament titles and a March Madness berth in 2014. Now, Manning is a Demon Deacon, taking over from Jeff Bzdelik, who couldn’t muster a trip to the Dance in four seasons at Wake Forest.
Washington State: Ernie Kent
Last but not least, it’s Ernie Kent, the new Washington State head coach. Kent is best known for his time in the Pac-12 at Oregon, where he won 235 of his 408 games and qualified for the NCAA tournament five times. Before that, Kent spent six years with St. Mary’s (CA). Kent is tasked with rebuilding a Cougars program that always seems to be rebuilding: WSU has only made three of the last 31 NCAA tournaments, and none since 2008.