With Jerome Allen out as Penn basketball head coach after Tuesday’s game against Princeton, Athletic Director Grace Calhoun is already on the lookout for a new boss. A source close to the program told the Daily Pennsylvanian that Penn is looking to replace Allen with someone who has Division I head coaching experience.
We decided to take a look at some of the potential candidates to replace Allen, looking at the strengths and weaknesses of each of the coaches listed. [Editors note: This is not a list of every possible candidate for the job, merely some of the top and more speculated coaches.]
Current Position: ESPN college basketball announcer
Coaching Record: 146-138, 78-62 Ivy in 10 seasons at Cornell; 54-76 in four seasons at Boston College.
Resume: Of any candidate for Penn’s head coaching position, Donahue has the most Ivy League success on his resume. Donahue served as a long-time assistant at Penn from 1990-2000 under former head coach Fran Dunphy. The Quakers won five Ivy titles during that span, including three straight titles from 1993-95 with Allen as the star player. Donahue moved from an assistant at Penn to the head coaching position at Cornell, where he served for 10 years. His tenure started out slowly but his Big Red squads finished above .500 in Ivy play during each of his last six years.
From 2008-10, Donahue’s Cornell teams won three straight Ivy titles while making the Sweet 16 in 2010. It was the first time in Ivy history that a school other than Penn or Princeton won three consecutive titles, a mark that has since been achieved by Tommy Amaker and Harvard. Following the 2010 season, Donahue moved on to Boston College to become the head coach. The Eagles did not make the NCAA Tournament during Donahue’s four years at BC and he was fired after the 2013-14 season.
Why he should be hired: There are plenty of positives for Donahue, who ESPN’s Jeff Goodman reported will be a serious candidate for the position. He has a clear familiarity with Penn and the Ivy League from the first 20 years of his time as a Division I coach. He brings an analytical approach to the game (just watch one of his ESPN broadcasts) that could be an interesting change of pace for Penn. Furthermore, Donahue’s top assistant is already on staff for Penn as Nat Graham moved to Penn after Donahue’s ouster at BC. While any potential coach could choose to keep one of the current assistants on staff, that kind of familiarity between Donahue and Graham could prove invaluable.
Question Marks: While Donahue’s success at Cornell is undeniable, the question becomes how Penn will view his exit at Boston College. If Calhoun and company are willing to overlook his losing record in Chestnut Hill, Mass., Donahue’s chances of getting the job become significantly higher.
Current position: Head coach at Robert Morris
Coaching Record: 108-65 in five seasons at Robert Morris
Resume: The 34-year-old coach may be relatively young but already has a wealth of success in Division I. Toole transferred to Penn for his final few years of college, helping lead the Quakers to consecutive Ivy League titles in 2002 and 2003. After his playing days, Toole found his first assistant coaching position at Lafayette under former Penn assistant coach Fran O’Hanlon. He left after one season to become an assistant coach at Robert Morris, working under former Rutgers coach Mike Rice. Rice won two Northeast Conference (NEC) titles with Toole as an assistant before moving to Rutgers after the 2009-10 season.
Toole became head coach after Rice departed and has finished with a winning record in each season with the Colonials. His teams have gone 12-6 or better in conference each year, including two conference regular season titles in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Toole’s squads have also won postseason games each of the last three seasons, with two wins in the CIT in 2012 and one win in both the 2013 and 2014 National Invitational Tournament (NIT).
Why he should be hired: Toole would bring a level of recent success that other candidates simply cannot match. He has helped make Robert Morris into a consistent winner, something Penn hopes to once again become in short order. His 2014-15 squad is playing for the NEC title on Tuesday night and could be ready to make the NCAA Tournament himself. Similar to Donahue (and to Allen), he is highly familiar with Penn while proving he can recruit locally.
Question Marks: The main question with Toole is a completely unfair one, but it involves his connection with Rice. Rice left Rutgers after video was released of him leveling abuse at his players. However, Toole was absolved of any wrongdoing by Robert Morris’ AD after an internal investigation of the program from 2007-10. The fact of the matter is that no one has spoken out against Toole so his connection with Rice shouldn't be a negative factor against him in a coaching search.
Current Position: Assistant coach at California
Coaching Record: No Division I head coaching experience
Resume: The 32-year-old assistant may be one of the hottest coaching commodities out there with a sterling reputation as a top-notch recruiter. Hufnagel graduated from Cornell in 2006 and moved to a graduate assistant role at Oklahoma while current Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin was there. After working in Norman from 2007-09, he found his way to Amaker’s staff at Harvard, where he flourished. The Crimson went 90-30 with Hufnagel on the sidelines while the young assistant had a large hand in getting some strong recruits to Cambridge. He also played a significant role in developing Harvard’s backcourt, including players like Jeremy Lin, Wesley Saunders and Siyani Chambers.
After four seasons at Harvard, Hufnagel moved to Vanderbilt last season to serve as an assistant for Kevin Stallings. He was Vanderbilt’s recruiting coordinator and helped land a strong freshman class for Commodores. Hufnagel joined Cal's new head coach, Cuonzo Martin, prior to this season, working as an assistant for the Golden Bears.
Why he should be hired: Hufnagel is a coach on the rise and will be highly sought after when he looks for his first head coaching position. His ability to recruit should have athletic directors around the nation drooling since he can turn around a program with quality players. His upbeat and positive personality is a plus as well. Hufnagel has also worked within the Ivy League recently and played a significant role into turning Harvard into the mini-dynasty the Crimson have become. Penn would likely be one of the jobs in the Ancient Eight that would entice Hufnagel despite his status as an assistant at a Power Five conference school.
Question Marks: The only question here is whether Penn is willing to overlook his lack of Division I head coaching experience. Hufnagel has proven himself within the Ivy League and is likely to be well on his way to become a head coach somewhere, but the fact remains that he does not possess the type of head coaching experience that Donahue and Toole (to name a few) do. Will that be held against him? Only time will tell.
Current Position: Head Coach at Colgate
Coaching Record: 48-78 in four seasons as Colgate head coach
Resume: Just like Toole, Langel is a former Penn player, providing prolific three-point shooting for the Red and Blue from 1996-2000 (under coach Dunphy and Donahue). He played professionally overseas before becoming an assistant for Dunphy at Penn in 2004, working on two Ivy League championship squads in just two seasons. He followed Dunphy to Temple in 2006, where he was an assistant for five seasons. Langel left Temple to become the head coach at Colgate after the 2010-11 season and has been the coach there for four years. His squads have improved their win-loss records during each of his four seasons, going from 8-22 in his first season to 16-17 and a second-place finish in the Patriot League this season.
Why he should get the job: Langel has the Division I head coaching experience that Penn is looking for and has familiarity with the program as both a player and assistant coach. His connections to Penn are highlighted by the fact that two of his current assistants at Colgate – Mike Jordan and Dave Klatsky – were also on Penn’s squads in the late 1990s and early 2000s. His Colgate squads have improved each year despite no postseason appearances, an ability to progress that Allen's squads failed to demonstrate in past seasons.
Question Marks: The main question with Langel is experience. Sure, he has been a head coach but his four years at Colgate may not be enough after the Red Raiders fell short of the postseason again this year. He may not be the proven winner with whom Calhoun would likely be more comfortable.
Gallagher has been less speculated than the four individual coaches listed above but he is yet another former Penn assistant who holds a Division I head coaching position. Gallagher played in the Big 5 at Saint Joseph's from 1996-99 before becoming an assistant coach. He spent time as an assistant at La Salle, Lafayette and Hartford before coming to Penn under Glen Miller in 2008. He would stay through the 2010 season taking the Hartford job.
He has spent five seasons as the Hawks' head coach, finishing close to middle of the pack in the America East Conference each season. He brought the Hawks to a CIT postseason appearance in 2013.
It seems unlikely that Penn would choose one of Allen’s assistants to replace him (the way Dunphy replaced Tom Schneider in the 1980s), especially since none of the three assistants have been Division I head coaches. Graham has the most experience of the group and would be the most likely to get a look if Calhoun is interested in hiring one of them. Coach Ira Bowman now has been a Division I assistant since 2008 and has experience at Penn as both a coach and player like Graham.
Rest of the Ivy League
In 2006, then-Athletic Director Steve Bilsky hired Miller, who was the Brown coach at the time, to take over Penn. Could a similar move be in the works? Two possible Ivy coaches to look for would be Columbia coach Kyle Smith and Brown coach Mike Martin. Smith has proven himself a strong recruiter with the Lions, bringing Maodo Lo, Alex Rosenberg and others to Morningside Heights. He took Columbia deep into the CIT playoffs in 2014 after an 8-6 Ivy finish, although this year’s 5-9 Ivy finish doesn’t look quite as strong on the resume.
Martin has a clear Penn connection, serving as an assistant under Miller and Allen at Penn from 2006-12 after one year as an assistant under Miller at Brown. He played a role in the recruitment of Zach Rosen, Penn’s best player from its last eight seasons and has brought some solid talent to Brown as well. Martin guided the Bears to back-to-back .500 Ivy finishes in his first two years at Brown before his squad took a step back to 5-9 in conference this year after leading scorer Leland King left the program at the beginning of Ivy play.
Former Division I head coaches
While decidedly less likely, some bigger names could be interested in the Penn job with its top notch facilities and the history of the program. Mike Jensen of the Philadelphia Inquirer mentioned two names of former Power Five conference coaches that could be interested: Matt Doherty and Seth Greenberg. Doherty played at North Carolina before becoming a head coach at Notre Dame, North Carolina, Florida Atlantic and Southern Methodist, making one NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years as a head coach. He doesn’t have clear connections to Penn, not that a prior connection to the program is a prerequisite for the job.
Greenberg currently works as an ESPN analyst and was a long-time assistant, including at Columbia, to start his career in 1978. He was the head coach at Long Beach State, South Florida and, most recently, Virginia Tech. His squads made three NCAA Tournament appearances, twice at Long Beach State in the mid-1990s and once at Virginia Tech.
Another name that Penn fans like to throw out is Ben Howland, who led UCLA to three consecutive Final Fours from 2006-08. Howland coached at Northern Arizona and Pittsburgh before heading to UCLA and has been out of coaching since 2013. Whether or not he would have any interest in the Penn job (or Penn would be interested in him) is uncertain.Comments powered by Disqus
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