Let me begin by saying this: Brad Stevens is not coming to Indiana.
As fun as it is to imagine the glorious homecoming that he would receive. Brad Stevens to Indiana is like the girl in high school you believed you had a shot with because of that one time you made her smile (not speaking on personal experience on that one, by the way.)
And for those of you who are here still thinking there is a chance, Brad Stevens himself is even going on sports talk shows to deny his want to leave the Celtics.
Brad Stevens says he has no interest in going back to college to coach Indiana with @ZoandBertrand pic.twitter.com/3JrPzd3VsY
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 16, 2021
But let's go ahead and pretend like he is willing to come to Indiana. Stevens would clearly be the best option given his college resume and the fact that he would know how to make recruits NBA-ready. But because this is unlikely, let's look at some of the other best options for IU moving forward.
Chris Beard (Texas Tech)
Have you seen Texas Tech play? Those teams are flat-out fun to watch and they aren't loaded with talent. With talent or without, it doesn't matter. Success has followed Chris Beard everywhere he has gone. In five years with the Red Raiders, Beard has two Elite Eights, a Final Four, and a runner-up to the 2019 champion Virginia.
In his 10 years as a head coach, he has only had two seasons that saw him lose 10 or more games. Since arriving in the Big 12 five years ago, Beard has won two coach of the year awards and one Big 12 title.
But here is the big one: It took Beard only three years in his new job to get his team to a Final Four. Not only has he never coached a team under .500, his worst team on paper one year followed it up with a trip to the Elite eight just 12 months later.
Indiana cannot mess up this hire. IU needs a coach who can turn around the program from day one and return it to the blue blood school that it once was. Beard is a proven winner who can win with just about any group of talent that he is given. If not Brad, this is the perfect guy for the job.
The only problem? Beard is currently the third highest-paid coach in college basketball. While his buyout for a school outside the Big 12 isn't absurd, matching and or exceeding his $4.5 million a year could be a reach for an athletic department following a pandemic.
Scott Drew (Baylor)
Naturally, you knew we had to get at least one "Indiana guy" in here. Drew's career began with a one-year stint in Valparaiso before he headed to Baylor where he has been since 2003. Over the past two years, Drew has put together a record of 48-6 and a No. 1 seed heading into this year's tournament.
So what is the problem?
This option feels like a Tom Crean part two. Good enough to stay relevant but never good enough to get to the next level. Drew has had two great teams back-to-back but over his nearly 20 years in Waco, it hasn't been too amazing. With four Sweet 16s and only two Elite Eights, one has to ask is it really the upgrade the Hoosiers are looking for?
John Beilein (formerly Michigan and most recently the Cleveland Cavaliers)
This is probably the safe and most likely pick. Beilein had a great stretch at Michigan and after a failed transition to the NBA may be ready for a return to the college game. Outside of Beard, I believe this is the guy that gets Indiana back to relevance the fastest.
Is he the long-term solution Indiana needs? Absolutely not. Beilein is 68 (!!!) years old. This may be a 3-5 year gap hire until Indiana can find someone better.
Should Indiana not be able to land Beard or a better option, Beilein would be a good backup.
Rick Pitino (formerly Louisville)
Dane Fife (Michigan State assistant)
I love Dane Fife. I think being underneath Tom Izzo for all these years and being one of Michigan State's key recruiters has really helped him become one of the freshest, youngest and brightest basketball minds in the country. He has shown to take great leadership while in East Lansing and clearly every player that works with him loves and respects him.
However, no head coaching experience doesn't look great on the resume. If Indiana felt it was necessary to pay Archie Miller's absurd $10 million buyout, you need to have a home run hire that going to match that. As much as I love Fife and his Indiana roots, I am not sure he is the right guy for the job at this time.
Steve Alford (Nevada head coach)
Alford has already come out and said he was not interested in leaving Nevada to pursue the Indiana job but I don't think Indiana is that interested either.
I thought Alford made the most sense four years ago coming off a Sweet 16 loss with UCLA. Since then, Alford has been fired from UCLA and has been pretty underwhelming in Nevada.
Alford to Indiana gives me "remember me from high school?" vibes and I really am not here for it.
Porter Moser (Loyola Chicago head coach)
This is the cop out pick in my opinion. It isn't necessarily a bad choice. Moser has proven to be a great coach. Not to mention, similarly to Archie Miller, I don't think anyone would look at this and say it was a bad hire.
However, after the four years of the Archie experiment, does Indiana really want to return to a mid-major hire that doesn't look ready for the gauntlet that is the Big Ten conference?
This feels like Archie part two. I really don't see what edge, if any, Porter Moser brings to the table.
The bottom line
Obviously, there are more names that have been floated out there. Yet the names above have to be the ones that Scott Dolson cannot ignore.
Bottom line: This is the biggest hire in Indiana basketball history.
With names like Coach K, Roy Williams and Tom Izzo getting closer towards the end of their careers, it is more crucial than ever before that Indiana finds a high-caliber name that will return the Hoosiers to the center of the college basketball universe.
It won't be cheap. It won't be easy. It likely won't happen quickly, but one of two things will happen next:
We will watch as Indiana basketball slowly fades into becoming a has-been blue blood as yet another coach fails to fill the massive shoes left by The General 20 years ago.
Or, we could be looking at the beginning of the new golden age of Indiana basketball.