Now that it's official Ray Giacoletti is out as Utah's head coach, it's now time to look at possible coaching candidates. I honestly don't have a clue who's on Hill's list, but I sure as hell hope these candidates at least get a look.
I'm going to list these coaches from best to worst, but in the end I think all would be solid hires for Hill. I just hope Utah doesn't get stuck with their third or fourth choice again, like they were with Giacoletti.
Probably a pipe dream, but you never know. Dixon coached under Pimm at UCSB and has western ties, so I'm sure he's familiar with the Utah basketball program. Pittsburgh is having a great season under Dixon, yet he nearly left there for Arizona State last season. If he's willing to look at moving to Arizona State -- one of the worst basketball programs in the west -- leaving for Utah would not be inconceivable.
Lickliter would be a great hire, as he's turned Butler into a mid-major power. He's in his sixth season with the Bulldogs and reminds me of Urban Meyer, energetic, passionate and a disciplinarian. Since he's a midwestern guy though, and a graduate from Butler, I'm not so sure he'd be willing to take the job.
Currently at Winthrop and doing a great job there. In all but one season he's guided them to the NCAA Tournament and came very close to knocking off Tennessee in the first round last year. This season Winthrop rolled through the Big South and will most likely finish with their best seed in school history. Marshall is a South Carolina guy and has zero ties to Utah though, which could ultimately keep him from accepting the job -- or even having it offered.
Rumor has it he was offered the coaching job the last go around, but demanded a 10 year contract just to discuss the offer. Utah went in the other direction and obviously Altman continued coaching at Creighton. Altman is a winner, but he seems like a long shot and honestly, Altman might not want the job after Utah refused his demands in 2004.
He's in his second year at Southern Illinois and is a proven winner. My only problem is that he has never really built a program, as he inherited a really solid Southern Illinois team when Matt Painter left for Purdue. Since he's in the midwest, it's probable he's waiting for a job to open in the Big 12, Big Ten or even Big East. If he continues winning at SIU, he'll definitely have bigger offers than Utah in the coming years.
There are more on my list, but I'll wait and see what happens with these candidates. If Montgomery is Utah's choice, I think we'll see an announcement within the coming weeks. If there is no announcement in that span, I think it's safe to say Montgomery won't be coming to Utah.
I want Montgomery, but have really warmed on the idea of getting Chris Lowery and Todd Lickliter. Regardless, if the Utes get any of these guys, things will definitely turn around for Utah hoops.