Although John Beilein has been the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for less than a year, the two sides appear to be ready to go in different directions.
After the NBA All-Star Game, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that Beilein and the organization had been having mutual discussions about the 67-year-old coach stepping down.
Beilein has had his struggles throughout the year. Earlier in the season, the former University of Michigan coach offended some of his players in a film session. Additionally, he has seemingly struggled to connect with his team in general.
While Beilein has been disappointing for the Cavaliers, he has also been rather unhappy himself. Beilein has apparently had trouble dealing with his son, Patrick Beilein, stepping down as the head coach at the University of Niagara. He also doesn’t seem to enjoy coaching the professional game as much as he did college.
Retirement is on the table for Beilein, but it also wouldn’t be too surprising if he took his talents back to college. If he does, he would have no shortage of suitors. Here’s a look at a few programs that could come calling if Beilein makes himself available:
There was a whole lot of buzz when Texas hired Shaka Smart in 2015, but the former VCU head coach has failed to live up to the hype. Smart is in his fifth season with the Longhorns, but his team has made the NCAA tournament just twice. They haven’t made it out of the first round, either.
This year, the Longhorns sit at 14-10, with a 4-7 record in conference play. Barring something remarkable happening, Texas will miss the tournament again. If that’s the case, it’s very likely Smart will be leaving town.
Heading to Texas would be a best-case scenario for Beilein. At 67, going to a school in need of a full rebuild won’t be appealing. But that’s not what is needed at Texas. There is already talent in place in Austin, and a school like that recruits for itself. As one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the world, Beilein would just have to focus on getting something out of what’s already there. He should be able to do that.
While many believe that Northwestern, Indiana and Maryland are the most likely jobs to open up in the Big Ten, shouldn’t Minnesota have some interest in this developing situation? In six full years with Richard Pitino running the program, the Golden Gophers have made the tournament just twice. Sure, Minnesota won its opening-round game in last year’s dance, but the team is likely responding with a trip to the NIT, at best.
Is Pitino’s 124-104 record in Minneapolis good enough to pass up on a proven Big Ten commodity like Beilein? In his time at Michigan, Beilein guided the Wolverines to the tournament nine times. Two of those appearances ended with Michigan losing in the finals. If he’s willing to take the job, firing Pitino has to be on the table.
As for the fit itself, Beilein should be able to make this team a lot better. The Gophers are young, but they are too talented to be sitting at .500 on the season. A guy like Beilein would likely be able to spark some improvement, even if Daniel Oturu heads to the NBA next year.
John Currie, the AD at Wake Forest, elected to keep head coach Danny Manning around in his first year with the Demon Deacons. But with Wake sitting at 11-14 this season, it’s likely that Currie is going to want to bring in his own guy to right the ship. Could that be Beilein?
This job would require the biggest rebuild of the three mentioned in this story, but Wake Forest is a prestigious program. And with the amount of talent available in North Carolina, one would think that Beilein would be able to inject some life into this team rather quickly.
The challenge of building a winning team in the ACC could also be exciting to Beilein. He clearly wanted to prove what he can do in the NBA, but it didn’t work out. Bringing Wake Forest back to relevance is a lot more manageable, but it’s also similarly impressive.