Well, I guess timing is indeed everything.
A few weeks ago, I discussed how Maryland and Pat Santoro were doing things right and because of such things, the A.D. at Maryland, Debbie Yow, rewarded coach with a five-year contract extension.
While I’m sure folks will now look at this as a way of Yow trying to keep her head coach in place, I think that was only a minor play. Had the Lehigh job been rumored to open next year, would Yow have waited to give Santoro, the ACC Coach of the Year, a contract extension?
Funny how things work. Santoro leaves Maryland in great shape and inherits a program hell-bent on winning and letting people know they’re “the little guy” that runs with the big boys. Lehigh’s a proud program with an honored tradition and one of the greatest places to watch a dual in this great land – Grace Hall.
Santoro spent nine years in Bethlehem after placing at the NCAA championships four times for Pittsburgh, including two NCAA titles. Impressive enough is he never won a high school state championship.
Now some questions are flowing from the usual places (the message boards, etc.) about what will happen next. Whether or not Santoro will want to bring his entire staff with him remains to be seen, but one of his assistants, Brad Dillon, is a Lehigh alum.
Todd Beckerman, on the other hand, is a Nebraska alum, a multiple-time All-American at Nebraska and could be ready to take over as the head coach.
I don’t think Beckerman’s going to the Lehigh Valley, but I could be wrong. It’s happened before, right? Dillon’s a logical choice to follow, and with a spot open due to the hiring of Tim Dernlan as the head coach at Division II Ashland, if Santoro wanted to keep the Lehigh staff intact, sans Dernlan, he shouldn’t have a problem.
Lehigh’s top recruiting classes came while Santoro and Jason Kutz were assistants under Greg Strobel. While we can’t forget Chris Ayres in that dynamic, Santoro and Kutz, who returned after a stint at East Stroudsburg, were a big part of Strobel’s staff.
Now what happens at Maryland?
Already calls have come in, texts and e-mails about who would take over the Maryland gig.
It’s an attractive position, especially since it’s fully-funded and returns six NCAA qualifiers and one All-American, sophomore Hudson Taylor.
Now, all this is strictly speculation and I’ve not talked to anyone about the position, mainly because it’s been less than 24 hours since the announcement (well, more than 24, depending on when you read this).
Would Mark Cody at American be interested? Someone on the boards did point out he’s one of the top upper-weight coaches in the nation (to which I completely agree). He’s a personable guy, someone that cares about his athletes and his program. He’s produced All-Americans at American the past few years, including Josh Glenn, the 2007 NCAA Champion at 197 pounds. Cody wouldn’t have to move and already has solid recruiting roots across the country.
What about Mark Weader at George Mason? There’s a name anyone outside of the Colonial wouldn’t even think about, but Weader has limited scholarships at GMU but has a pretty good reputation, is a young coach, has experience and also, doesn’t have to make a huge cross-country move.
Beckerman lacks head coaching experience, but he’s a part of the system and has been instrumental in helping build Maryland into a Top 25 program with Santoro. He has to be in the conversation.
Someone on the boards also brought up Lee Pritts. Shooter is a great recruiter, we’ve seen that at Missouri (before and now again) and Old Dominion. He knows the rules inside and out, has a great network of contacts and doesn’t feed you any b.s. The guy will be a good D-1 coach someday. But will he turn around and head back to the East Coast after returning to Mizzou? Tough one to gauge. I think he’s ready for a shot, but this one’s on him.
Another Missouri coach to think about is Shawn Charles. He wants to be a head coach again, but will he apply for the Maryland job. It’s a situation unlike Fresno State, where he had an A.D. basically send him to pasture. (Memo to Thomas Boeh, love that karma, don’t you). If Charles wants stability and a program with much of the work already done … Maryland’s the pick.
I could go on and on about candidates for the job, but there aren’t going to be headaches associated with Maryland. I’m sure there’s some concern about the qualifier allocation stuff that’s going on right now in Indianapolis, but realistically, if you’re going to move into the ACC, there’s no better opportunity than what Maryland has on the table right now.
Just my two cents.