I should preface this by saying that while I think it's possible, I'm still not convinced that Eric Hyman is going to fire Darrin Horn at year's end. I'm also not sure that it would be the right move; certainly, the program is struggling mightily right now, but there is some reason to believe the team would be better next year were Horn to find a couple of key pieces over the off-season. As such, I'd like to wait until the end of the season to evaluate his future, and I imagine that Hyman feels the same way.
That said, it's worth wondering who we would go after were we to dismiss Horn. One popular name is Gregg Marshall, head coach at Wichita State and former coach at Winthrop. A native of Greenwood who grew up a fan of USC, Marshall is thought to have long had a strong interest in coaching at South Carolina. He's more or less said as much in the past. He's also well-known in the area for his success in Rock Hill, where he earned seven NCAA berths.
This year, Marshall's star is burning brighter than ever. After winning the NIT last season, Wichita St. is in the process of taking the mid-major world by storm. Currently ranked 24th in the country, the Shockers have turned up the heat in recent weeks with a string of impressive victories, including a stunning rout at rival Creighton. This past weekend, he returned to the Carolinas to pound Davidson during ESPN's Brackbusters lineup. His well-publicized success has many USC fans hungrier than ever to get him on campus.
Would he come, though? Ron Morris wrote on exactly that topic today, and while I hate to be the guy to bring more publicity to Morris's typical yellow pressery, I wonder if he doesn't have a point here. As Morris says,
basketball is king in Wichita. There is no football program at Wichita State. The baseball program has played on the national stage off and on for decades.
Yet nothing quite compares to basketball.
With the success he's having, Marshall is top cat in the Kansas city--and don't be surprised if his university is willing to pay to make sure he has the opportunity to defend his throne. Marshall doing his part to help WSU sell plenty of tickets, as Morris documents:
Wichita State annually sells 8,500 season tickets (USC sold 5,900 this season) for games at 10,506-seat Charles Koch Arena. The Shockers have played 114 consecutive home games to crowds of at least 10,000.
So, there's cash flow here. And not just from the tickets. Koch Arena is named after, you guess it, one of the Koch brothers, a gazillionaire who is known for his T. Boone Pickens-like bankrolling of WSU athletics. He might be willing to pony up some cash to help WSU keep in star coach. Is USC willing to pay for a coach who is already making quite a bit?
You also have to wonder if, at this point, Marshall knows that when he does deem it time to leave Kansas, he'll likely have more illustrious suitors than USC calling. I'd say Marshall is about another good season or two away from being the kind of coach who will merit a close look from a perennial top-25 program.
Perhaps his love for USC would trump assured fame and fortune if it were to come to that decision. Perhaps, though, it's more likely that USC will end up forever wondering what could have been if it were to have given Marshall a call when he was still an up-and-coming coach at Winthrop.