This is getting quite old. Another day has passed and nothing is being reported and no hints are being dropped as to who Utah's next coach will be. A few days ago Utah, New Mexico, Colorado State and Wyoming were all looking for coaches and now Utah is the lone Mountain West program coachless. The Cowboys chose Heath Schroyer, former Portland State coach and BYU assistant. New Mexico took Iowa's Steve Alford, and Colorado State named North Dakota State head coach Tim Miles to man their near-dead basketball program.
So where's Utah in all of this? Who the hell knows and I guess all we can do is speculate. At first the speculation was fun, but now it's getting painful.
So far, these seem to be the known candidates:
- Jim Boylen - Appears to be the top candidate, interviewed for the job Wednesday yet nothing has come out about that interview or whether Hill even offered him the job. I gather two possibilities from this, Hill offered him the job but has decided to keep it quiet until Monday, or either he or Boylen decided the move wouldn't work out. If that's the case, then Hill has moved on to another candidate, and that would possibly explain why Jim Christian was interviewed after Boylen.
- Jim Christian - He interviewed with Hill either Wednesday night or Thursday afternoon. No matter, it's pretty clear he spoke with Hill after Boylen's interview. As I said, maybe this is because Hill decided against going with Boylen, or Boylen felt Utah wasn't the right career choice. However if Christian were interviewed and was Hill's man, why hasn't anything been leaked about him taking the job? I would expect the media in Ohio to at least know something, but who knows.
- Blaine Taylor - He's been completely quiet in all of this, refusing to comment about the job. That can mean two things, he's not interested and isn't going to waste time speculating, or he's a real candidate and doesn't want to say anything until it's a done deal. Taylor has shown interest, but it's unclear if he's interviewed with Hill.
Just because the above names have been thrown around the most does not mean the next head coach will come from that list. Hill could very well be using the three possible coaches as a smokescreen, throwing people off his "real" choice. While that sounds farfetched, when Utah hired Urban Meyer in 2002, he wasn't mentioned much. And when he was mentioned, it wasn't as a top candidate, rather as a possible one behind the likes of Norm Chow and a bunch of other D-1A assistants. That leads us to the next batch, probable candidates that may or may not be on Hill's list.
- Chris Lowery - He seems to be on everyone's list because, well, he's the hottest coaching prospect in the country right now. With that said, there has been no evidence to suggest Hill has even tried to contact Lowery. If he has, he's done it in such a covert way that the media has been unable to pick up on it. Lowery is a midwest guy that probably understands he can get a pretty big gig. However does he risk staying another year, knowing he could lose the flavor of the month label, or take a job like Utah and pull an Urban Meyer?
- Todd Lickliter - His name hasn't been brought up as much as Lowery, but in my mind is a far more realistic option. Firstly, The Horizon League can't compare with the Mountain West, while the Missouri Valley Conference -- where Southern Illinois plays -- can. Butler is a good mid-major school, but they have some limits. If Lickliter is looking to move up, but can't get a look from either Michigan or Iowa, he could look to Utah.
- Gregg Marshall - Like Lowery he was a big name and the only real schools that have tried to contact him are New Mexico and South Florida. New Mexico decided to go another direction and South Florida offered Marshall their job, but it seems he's declined. Utah is a far better job than South Florida, but it looks like he feels comfortable enough at Winthrop to continue coaching there, maybe realizing a better job could open -- possibly Florida if Billy Donovan bolts for Kentucky.
- Mike Dunlap - He's a dark horse candidate that hasn't received much mention during the past few weeks. In 2004 he was a candidate for the job, but not a serious one. Now, especially with his NBA experience, he could be a candidate again. Dunlap is holding out for something, since he's informed the Nuggets he may not be back next year. Yet he also quickly took his name out of the running for the Wyoming, Colorado and Denver jobs, signaling that maybe he'll only leave if the right job comes along. Could that be Utah?
Of course then there's the candidates no one has talked about and I'm not going to list the possibilities there, because I could go on and on. Frankly, I thought Boylen was Utah's next head coach earlier in the week, but with every passing day I am becoming more and more skeptical. The fact he hasn't been announced, and the realization the coaching pool is going to grow even larger when Kentucky makes its hire, tells me the program may be heading in a different direction. If this is true, I hope it's either Lowery or Lickliter, but who knows.