Yesterday, a source in the the University of Tennessee athletics department leaked a list of five candidates to replace Bruce Pearl as men's basketball coach. Those five candidates were: Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon, Villanova coach Jay Wright, Alabama coach Anthony Grant, Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon and Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.
Jaime Dixon and Jay Wright both have suffered notable disappointments at their respective schools recently, but is either a serious candidate to take over a program that has NCAA sanctions looming?
Jay Wright has had numerous opportunities to leave Villanova over the years. Most offering significant increases in pay and programs that were far healthier than the one at Tennessee.
An established coach will be unlikely to want to go to Knoxville and deal with the difficulties and sanctions left behind by Pearl -- certainly not in the middle of a successful stretch of their career, and likely not while they have impressive recruiting classes lined up at their current school.
That's not to say that Jay Wright will never leave Villanova, or that Jaime Dixon cannot be coaxed away from Pittsburgh. However, to leave either of those jobs and the success they have had their to take over at Tennessee would seem illogical.
Of course, money plays a part in all of this, and Tennessee could plan to offer their next coach an obscene amount of money -- but that strategy doesn't always work. Last offseason we saw Oregon try to throw money at Tom Izzo to leave Michigan State to no avail, and DePaul (somewhat more successfully) attempted to buy themselves a big-name coach. Oregon's efforts were largely a failure, while DePaul had more than a few swing-and-miss attempts before landing Oliver Purnell.
Among the red flags that would keep a wise coach away from Tennessee:
There's the specter of looming potential sanctions from the NCAA violations under Pearl's watch. There's the fact that athletic director Mike Hamilton's job appears to be on shaky ground. And there's the fact that Pearl's success at Tennessee was more an outlier than the norm, raising questions as to whether his successor will be able to cope with the raised expectations.
All that the Vols appear to be accomplishing with this leak is to raise fan expectations to unrealistic levels.