ITH Super Happy Fun Time Coaching Search: Tony Bennett

  • 03/25/2008 1:05 pm in

p1_bennet.jpg Kelvin is out the door and Dan is not our man, so that can only mean one thing: It’s coaching search time! Here’s a look at the candidates that could land in Bloomington. We’ll give you the pros, the cons and the bottom line. This afternoon: Washington State’s Tony Bennett.

Pros: After his father Dick retired two seasons ago, the younger Bennett took over and in his first season led Washington State to its most wins in school history (tied it at 26), won AP Coach of the Year and Naismith College Coach of the Year. This all after WSU finished dead last in the Pac-10 a year before. This year, his team has the second-highest rated defense in the country at 56.1 points allowed per game and have advanced (so far) to the Sweet Sixteen — beating Winthrop and Notre Dame by a combined margin of 49 points. He’s young (38), he’s up and coming, he’s what IU could really use to jump start the program. He’s helped recruit the likes Devin Harris, Kirk Penney, Alando Tucker and Brian Butch while at Wisconsin. His father’s ties to Bob Knight might help reconnect a certain segment of the Indiana family too.

Cons: Too inexperienced? This is only Bennett’s second year at the helm of Washington State. Sure, he’s done a stellar job in his first two seasons, but do we need a larger sample size before we know he’s the real deal? Would it be a mistake to pull a trigger on a guy who’s still largely untested?

The bottom line: Out of the young up and coming crop, Bennett might stick out as IU’s No. 1 target. But does he want to flee WSU for a school where his sister resigned a few short years ago as head coach of the women’s team? His current salary is at least $800,000 a year and his contract runs till at least the 2013-2014 season. Perhaps a bit easier on the pocketbooks for IU than others.

Tomorrow morning, Big A will break down Sean Miller of Xavier.

Reminder: Registration now required to post comments. Click here to sign up for free. You’ll get access to avatars, the ability to rate comments and gain clout points based on the rating of your comments by other users.

Filed to:

  • Bennett Bennett Bennett. There is no other option. Well maybe Dakich, I like him a lot and he got a raw deal. Crean sucks, Pearl is a sleaze…
    One thing you are failing to mention is that IU WILL be on probation, so what coach is going to want to come into that situation? IU is not big time anymore. Like Dakich said after the loss to Arkansas, there needs to be some major changes….and this includes Greenspan who 100% has to go.

  • xxBHxx

    He seems like a good fit, although I do agree about the lack of experience. I would have to put him near the top of the list though.

  • tberry

    I really like Bennett BUT I do wonder if two years as the main coach is enough to know his ability. I also wonder what really transpired between his sister and IU (Greenspan). No one will say there were really bad feelings there but it is insinuated that they may have parted on less than amicable terms. If this is true Bennett may not want any part of IU and Greenspan.

    I think a lot of coaches would want to come to IU next season. If there are sanctions they won't last forever and will probably be pretty small. It is still a storied program and to be able to build your program from scratch, without having to measure up to the past coach, should be alluring to many.

  • BrianK

    There are a couple of good choices out there Bennett, Miller etc. How is Pearl a Sleaze? How is IU not bigtime anymore? We landed one of the top recruits in Grdon and were doing it again with Ebanks. How is Dakich even an option? How did he get a raw deal? The players got teh raw deal of having him as the head coach. What has DD done in his career that says he deserves a top tier coaching job?

  • ALH_00

    “Would it be a mistake to pull a trigger on a guy who’s still largely untested?”

    I don't agree that he is “untested”. He has extensive assistant coaching experience under his father (for whom I express no particular opinion). Yes, he only has two years of head coaching experience, but those have come at a former doormat in perhaps the best conference in college b-ball (I would still give the nod to the Big East). His relative success is pretty much astonishing. I doubt this success is a “fluke”, and I would confidently welcome IU's decision to hire this guy. I'm not sold one way or another, but how could you argue with hiring this guy?

  • southsidehitmen

    Brian K: When you say “We” got Gordon and Ebanks, do you mean “Sampson” got Gordon and Ebanks? 'Cause that's how it is. It wasn't Indiana University that lured those two guys here, it was Samspon. (As evidenced by Ebanks de-commitment and Gordon orginaly planning on going to U of I before Sampson arrived.)

    Dakich probably got a raw deal, but that still doesn't mean he deserves to be head coach at IU, I think there are better people available that would be likely to come here.

    Tony Bennet being one of them.

  • BrianK

    When I say we I mean We. Yes the head coach plays a majority role in it. But do you think SAmpson would of pulled them to Oklahoma? No. It takes a mix of the right coach and the right school. The recruit is asking “Am I going to get to where I want to go?” “Will I like it here?” “How cool are their facilities?” Being at IU you are at a program that has proven it can win cahmpionships and go far into the Tourney. You get alot of exposure at IU. IU is an easier sell for a head coach.

  • JerryCT

    WSU made him the youngest head coach in the PAC-10 so they must have had confidence in him. THEN he got 27 wins this year w 26 wins last year in the PAC-10 and 7 Coach of Year awards. He did this with no marquee players compared to UCLA, USC, Stanford, Arizona, ASU.

    SO let me get this straight. He is good enough to win 26+ games back to back in the PAC-10 but too inexperienced for IU ? That is nuts.

    We donot need a larger sample size and he does not need to coach another year at WSU to succeed at IU.

    Other points to consider more or less with some comparisons:

    1. building his own program from nothing – sadly this is what we need
    ( Xavier program was built by Prosser, Gillen, Mata and another guy )
    2. recruits nationally and internationally ( Xavier recruits largely 3 cities in Ohio )
    3. knows the B-10 , plays the style, and knows how to beat the best team ….Wisc
    4. knows international ball and the NBA,( 30+ player picked helps in recruiting)
    5. bases his coaching on values ( like Wooden ) – and I donot mean “low turnovers ” I mean things like “humility, passion ……..”

    He will be an instant success and we can compete with Weber, Painter and Carmody for best hair in the B-10

    ach in the A10 ?

    He is from the Midwest. He is familiar with the B-10 and the team to beat……….Wisc

    He is building his program from scratch. Sadly this is what IU needs now. Miller on the other hand had the program built for him by Gillen, Prosser, Matta etc

    Compared to Miller , who appears to recruit in 2 cities in Ohio, I like Bennett's international and national recruiting scope better.
    2. He is good enough for 26+ wins seach season in the Pac-10 , I suspect he is good enough to win in the B-10so what experience is he missing ?
    2.

  • JerryCT

    sorry . something happened here unintended

  • Ryan_Btown

    I've said it before and I'll say it again. The last time we took a chance on a young coach that seemed to be up-and-coming, it paid off quite handsomely. (Knight was only 30 or 31 when he took the helm)

  • JerryCT

    I agree with you except………….. someone might point out Sampson had the #1 recruiting class his 600 call year at OK.

  • JerryCT

    Bennett might have had more years under his belt if he had not been actually playing professionaly in the NBA and internaionally. Rare for a head coach to have this kind of experience at this level

  • BrianK

    Look how long it took him to do that there. How did he do after until he came to IU

  • BrianK

    Gotta go to lunch brb lol

  • Super Suhr

    Kentucky has had its fair share of scandals and probations over the years, yet big time coaches still covet that job. In my opinion, the top 5 most coveted jobs in basketball, in no particular order, are UCLA, Duke, UNC, UK, and IU. Our reputation as the poster child for a clean program has been scarred forever, but our reputation as a big time program has not been. I agree with the other stuff you said though, Greenspan has to go.

  • kgork

    God that is an attractive man.

  • widget

    NEO.

    (He is “the one”)

    Pearl?
    Too much about himself, flash, and methinks he will visit the sanction-land of the NCAA someday.

    Miller?
    Bennett-Lite

    Crean?
    Bennett-Lighter

    Tony Bennett, folks.

  • Couldn't agree more. I forgot to add that in the “pros” section.

  • JerryCT

    Funny. That caused to think that Larry Eustachy could be evaluateds as a Miller Lite kind of guy

  • Raymond219

    What about Jamie Dixon? He isn't QUITE as young as Bennett but has been successful at Pitt. Or Jay Wright, is him being be too east coast really turning people off?

  • xxZPxx

    Bennett was a top 5 choice for IU going into the tournament but the questions that are being brought up on this site were probably also being brought up by the committee….Fast forward to him making it to the sweet sixteen and blowing out Notre Dame and he has instantly turned his stock into gold. I feel like he is now the leading candidate of coaches who are not “Elite”.

  • easy

    OK, I am really tired of reading the “would he come here because his sister left IU on bad terms” stuff. That's the only reason I'm posting. I have a connection with the women's program at Indiana. Without giving up the source who e-mailed Kathi Bennett (someone who was here when she was), I will tell you that Kathi said Tony would “definitely be interested” in the Indiana job. The question will be if WE are interested enough.

    To me, putting together rumors I've read, the Trustees want to hit a home run that makes everyone go “Wow!” So they will go after Barnes, Matta, and Pitino first (I've seen mixed reports on Pearl and Calipari, and would tend to think we'd avoid both due to baggage) before considering Bennett or Miller etc.

    Now I would be ecstatic if we landed Matta or Bennett. Very happy if we got Dixon (not even sure we're looking at him) or Miller. I'd be OK with Barnes. If Bennett challenges UNC this weekend? I mean if his defense makes this a close game with the talent differential between the two schools, then I would think he gets bumped way up the list.

    To me the major plus is that Bennett would be OURS and would be here for years. When you looked back on his career you'd think “Indiana Coach Tony Bennett” not Kentucky, Celtics, Louisville, and Indiana Coach Rick Pitino. I'd rather see a guy come in and establish himself as the guy to lead us for future decades.

  • ChiCityHoosier

    count me a bennett-fan. he's proven himself to be a coaching force in my mind. i still think that if we get him, and i hope we do, fans need to give him a few years to find his way and establish himself. many of the great coaches in college bball started out with sub-par seasons and we all need to remember this. i really like that he's young and that he isn't an 'elite' coach yet. this is why you come to iu … so you can mature into an 'elite' coach and have your name be synonymous with success, integrity, domination, and all those good things

  • Good stuff there easy.

  • i haven't heard anybody say this about bennett yet….

    i heard he took a flier on a kid named Alando Tucker that had no other major D-I offers while he was an assistant coach and lead recruiter at Wisconsin. somebody remind me how that turned out?

  • sierracoach

    I'd love to get Bennett–or Miller, or Dixon. It's sounding more and more, however, like some “$$$” folks are trying to steer things towards a big name like Matta (about 2 years too late on that one IMO).

  • easy

    I don't know why everyone is so quick to dismiss Matta as an option. You're right, maybe he won't come. But considering this is his dream job, why is he less likely than any other big name to come? He has been at OSU for a shorter time period than someone like Barnes at Texas.

    He's at a football school, this is his dream job, and last time he had Oden and Conley coming in, meaning he couldn't pass up the opportunity to coach 2 top 5 picks. This time he's not in that situation (once-in-a-lifetime superstar coming to his school) so why wouldn't he listen? Supposedly we have the money ready to pry someone like him away.

    He has won EVERYWHERE and quickly. He has roots near here. He wouldn't leave here. He's still young (40!). No reason he shouldn't be our #1 choice in my opinion. After him I'd agree with you, I would want the 3 you mentioned, as I said before. I just don't get why Matta is any less likely than the other big names, and in fact think he may be MORE likely because of what the job means to him. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe jumping Big Ten schools is something he wouldn't do. We'll see. No one knows at this point. Wish OSU would lose so we could talk to him. =)

  • casey137

    Are you kidding? Bennett would clearly have the best hair out of Weber, Painter and Carmody.

  • Kelin Blab

    The interesting thing here…..do we want Matta over Bennett…..what is Thad without Oden and Conley??? Do we want Matta over Miller???? One Sean Miller had Thad, Oden, and Conley on the ropes last year in the tourney…….

    I think Matta would be awesome, the more I hear about Bennett and Miller I could lean that way first……….I just like Millers X's and O's………..here is some coaching….Miller has a big man who loves to play outside and shot the long ball some…a la Ben Allen…instead of just forcing him inside like a horrible coach would, why not expand his game and use his strengths like a good coach……Sean Miller.

    Could we have used 6'11 Ben Allen this year….Hell Yeah.

  • easy

    I know you weren't hating on Thad by any means. But for those that have the “Thad is nothing without Oden” mindset, let's just clear that up real quick:
    2000-01 Butler 24-8 (.750)
    2001-02 Xavier 26-6 (.813)
    2002-03 Xavier 26-6 (.813)
    2003-04 Xavier 26-11 (.703)
    2004-05 Ohio State 20-12 (.625)
    2005-06 Ohio State 26-6 (.813)

    And with Oden for half the year and Conley and a bunch of other young guns?
    2006-07 Ohio State 35-4 (.897)

    Think he wouldn't get similarly star-studded recruiting classes to come to Indiana? And how many times have major recruiters failed to get their teams to the NC game? Calhoun, Pitino, Barnes, Calipari, etc. I don't feel like looking it up, but I know he took Butler to the Sweet 16 and Xavier to the Elite 8 in '04. He took a sanctioned OSU team and got them to win the B10 Championship anyway despite no postseason play. He got recruits to come anyway. He is very well respected (notice how despite his amazing Oden class he was never once accused of cheating). He's just well liked. And he wins. He's got everything we want.

    Now what's his pricetag? Just my opinion, but I would push EXTREMELY hard to get Thad first. But I agree, Miller and Bennett are good with X's and O's as well and would win.

  • easy

    Actually here is the most recent contract info I could find:
    http://www.cstv.com/sports/m-baskbl/stories/092
    Yikes. 2.5 mil per year, which is what I thought it was. How high are we willing to go? If we match it does he come to his dream job? And is that too rich for IU fan's blood, or do we care how much we have to pay? Personally I'd match and go up to maybe 3 mil per to get Matta. But that's by far the most I'd pay someone.

  • Raymond219

    That may have been the best description of this situation I have seen yet. I agree whole heartedly with your assessment of why we should want Bennett. I will say Barnes, while a good coach, i feel is too old for what we need here. And why aren't we looking at Jamie Dixon, he is my #2 after Bennett for guys I believe we have a real chance at getting.

  • Raymond219

    I think he also convinced a McDonalds All American named…Butch to RED SHIRT and ride the bench for a year. How is that guy doing these days?

  • Ryan_Btown

    I don't care about the glitz and glamor of matta, pearl, and the others…I mean, would I be happy to have them? Yes. I agree though with Easy…Ecstatic for Bennett.

    Give me Bennett or give me……not death, but someone better than Dakich or Skiles.

  • JerryCT

    Not to mention Devin Harris

  • JerryCT

    Thanks Raymond. I have been pressing for Jay Wright as #2 candidate for 2 months. I like DIxon as #3. I rate Miller no higher than #4 largely due to looking at this roster he shows no wide spread recruiting appeal.

  • JerryCT

    I have to ask. How many million $ is Matta better than Bennett ?

    Sure I like Matta but Bennett has not failed to win 26+ with last place Pac-10 personnel.

    Attractiveness ==> It may be a shallow thought but Bennett as the 'face” for our program will rival Coach K in commercial appeal and vicarious exposure of folks to IU. I for one at first was not considering this but now believe it could be an enormous factor

  • xxBHxx

    Good point. I have been wanting Matta ever since these sheninagans began. The dude can flat out coach and recruit. He's my #1 option followed by Bennett and Miller.

  • xxBHxx

    Yea but look at Matta's coaching success.. it blows Bennet out of the water. Plus he's coached at 3 different schools in 3 different conferences. MATTA all the way.. PAY THE MAN!

  • easy

    I'm with you on that, definitely see your point. We would have to pay Matta somewhere around 3 mil I'd imagine. If we paid half that we could have Bennett, as that would almost double his salary. It's risk/reward. Matta=more proven success=more money. Bennett has great upside though and I certainly would be happy with either. And yes, he is a very attractive guy which can't hurt the program haha…

  • xxZPxx

    My good friend-
    Is Matta a more attractive hire than Bennett….maybe. However, it is very difficult to overlook the fact that he is Ohio State's coach. You just cant switch Big Ten schools like that. The reason Bennett is the better hire in my mind is because he has the nice records with middle of the road talent (at best), has Big Ten ASSISTANT experience, belongs to a family of old school coaching, former NBA player, is ridiculously good looking and IU would be his first big school job. Like it or not but until IU won a championship with Matta I probably couldn't get over the fact that he was Ohio State and Kosta Deuches coach. Bennett in '08/'09! Yes, we can!

  • tspan18

    I can promise everyone this…there is no trouble between the Bennetts and Greenspan. Kathy Bennett resigned because she felt she could no longer relate to the players.

    My former boss (who works at IU) is good friends with Tony and visited him just a few weeks ago and Bennett assured him there was no bad blood between him and Greenspan, and that it was truly Kathy's decision to step down. Tony had offers from Iowa and Michigan last year but turned them down…

    He's definitely interested.

  • xxBHxx

    This is the Postfix program at host disqus.net.

    I’m sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
    be delivered to one or more recipients. It’s attached below.

    For further assistance, please send mail to

    If you do so, please include this problem report. You can
    delete your own text from the attached returned message.

    The Postfix program

    : host f.mx.mail.yahoo.com[209.191.88.247] said: 554
    delivery error: dd Sorry your message to [email protected] cannot be
    delivered. This account has been disabled or discontinued [#102]. –
    mta351.mail.mud.yahoo.com (in reply to end of DATA command)

  • easy

    ^ Yep. He's definitely interested. Glad someone else has heard the same thing I have!

  • splenda

    Not only were all of those players supremely talented, but they are the type of players IU has not had in recent years (with the exception of D.J. White). IU needs a kid like Kyle Weaver — a defense-first guard who focuses on creating for everyone else around him. Tucker, Harris and Butch were team-focused players who didn't seek the limelight and never showed attitude problems. Not only is he a very good recruiter, but he recruits the type of players that Knight would have gone after.

  • easy

    On Mike Tirico show:

    He mentioned “Hoosiers” when referring to the send-off from Pullman. He mentioned Bob Knight as the style his teams resemble most.

  • easy

    I'm with you on that, definitely see your point. We would have to pay Matta somewhere around 3 mil I'd imagine. If we paid half that we could have Bennett, as that would almost double his salary. It's risk/reward. Matta=more proven success=more money. Bennett has great upside though and I certainly would be happy with either. And yes, he is a very attractive guy which can't hurt the program haha…

  • xxZPxx

    My good friend-
    Is Matta a more attractive hire than Bennett….maybe. However, it is very difficult to overlook the fact that he is Ohio State's coach. You just cant switch Big Ten schools like that. The reason Bennett is the better hire in my mind is because he has the nice records with middle of the road talent (at best), has Big Ten ASSISTANT experience, belongs to a family of old school coaching, former NBA player, is ridiculously good looking and IU would be his first big school job. Like it or not but until IU won a championship with Matta I probably couldn't get over the fact that he was Ohio State and Kosta Deuches coach. Bennett in '08/'09! Yes, we can!

  • tspan18

    I can promise everyone this…there is no trouble between the Bennetts and Greenspan. Kathy Bennett resigned because she felt she could no longer relate to the players.

    My former boss (who works at IU) is good friends with Tony and visited him just a few weeks ago and Bennett assured him there was no bad blood between him and Greenspan, and that it was truly Kathy's decision to step down. Tony had offers from Iowa and Michigan last year but turned them down…

    He's definitely interested.

  • easy

    ^ Yep. He's definitely interested. Glad someone else has heard the same thing I have!