If there is any right in the world, this coaching move is going to happen rather quickly. There's already a degree of right in the world in Danny White's near-immediate elevation of Nate Oats to Interim Head Coach.
I am not sure that Oats is the best available coach, but he is the most likely to keep the team together and provide stability in general. And whether they've expressed it more or less eloquently, most fans hold him as the favorite.
Still, even if Oats is the frontrunner, if keeping the team together is the most important thing, and if he's who everyone wants, it would be irresponsible just to hand him the job. It's really easy to pull together a long list of possibilities, and pretty easy to start looking more in-depth.
I believe that this coaching search and hire will be a little more conventional than the usual modus operandi from Danny White, but will save that for tomorrow. For now, let's look at a candidate I think should be on the short list: Andy Toole of Robert Morris.
Andy Toole is young. Younger than Bobby Hurley, but more experienced than when UB brought the onetime Dukie into the fold. His current headcoaching stint at Robert Morris is his only one, but it includes a 110-66 record in five years, three straight regular season conference championships, and a pair of NIT wins to go with his first NCAA appearance this season.
Prior to the top job at Robert Morris, Toole had been the assistant there for three years after breaking into the coaching ranks at Lafayette. The Colonials advanced to the NCAA Tournament twice during his time as an assistant, as well. Between his playing and coaching careers he was involved in New Jersey-area AAU programs, which would connect him to Northeast recruiting.
I can't quickly find Toole's salary, but the entire school had a $12 million athletics budget for 16 sports recently.
An important quote before we get too deep
Because of my age, it's a unique situation. I think in college basketball, there are coaches, maybe, who are older than I am, that maybe got an opportunity to be a Division I head coach later in their careers, and they really are trying to hit and get it to the top as quickly as possible.
For me, it's a little different. I kind of have to be very, very selective about anything that might jump in front of me, because the worst thing to be is a 33-year-old coach with a good job where my family likes it, and all of a sudden be a 37-year-old coach unemployed because you take a wrong step... so I have to be selective.
He's made a habit of beating the teams around him, so what's not to say he can't continue once put on an even playing field with the MAC. He hasn't had one bad season yet and has worked through a full recruiting cycle - two if you consider his time as an assistant. He's also stepped in at a program already winning in conference and maintained that success for four more years.
Believe it or not, he'd have the most and highest-quality experience of any UB Men's Basketball hire in decades, a fact slightly skewed by the long tenures of Dan Bazzani and Reggie Witherspoon, but also rendered useless by the fact that pretty much anyone Buffalo hires would fit this.
He wouldn't cost very much money.
Is NEC to the MAC too big of a jump? I don't think so, but Robert Morris, for their success in conference has been stuk in 115 and 16 seed purgatory, among those guaranteed bids that will never have a chance in the tournament. Among the college basketball world, RMU has really only been good when compared to its conference.
Is Toole too young to take a risk on? Given the firepower on the roster (assuming it stays), do we want someone a little more established and a little less rising-star-ish?
Recruiting. The New Jersey AAU connections are nice, but the NEC isn't exactly a hotbed of recruiting competition. The MAC isn't either, but everything's a marked step up.
Look at that quote up above. It's been one year since he said that. I'm not entirely sure how to feel about Buffalo's stature right now, between higher highs than we've ever had and reminders that we're not exactly a destination. Should Toole even be on the list, and should he be a future hall of famer, could we even get him right now as a coach?
Toole wasn't even on my radar until Albany_Bull brought him up in the comments section. The big question surrounding him is how relevant is success in the NEC, but we can't ignore that he wins, and that's all he's done.
Hiring Toole, who played at Elon and Penn to replace a national name would be a big shift, but UB would also be bringing on a winner. I'm not sure the program is in a place where a gamble is necessary or prudent, but I also would be excited to see what he can do with more resources.