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Who will be the top candidates in Michigan coaching search?

The college basketball world was stunned on Monday morning when ESPN broke the news that the Cleveland Cavaliers had hired Michigan‘s John Beilein as their next head coach.

Beilein had flirted with NBA jobs in the past, most notably the Detroit Pistons job last summer, but this came out of nowhere. There were some whispers about his candidacy in the last couple of days, but nothing that made it seem like he was on the verge of taking the position.

Athletic director Warde Manuel is now placed in a difficult spot. In most cases, when a coach is rumored to leave or be fired, there’s already a list of replacements in place, both at the school and in the media. When it happens surprisingly, in mid-May, it’s a little bit harder.

So what’s next?

Job description

Under Beilein, Michigan was one of the most consistently successful programs in the country. The Wolverines finished as national runners-up in 2013 and 2018 but also reached the Sweet 16 in 2017 and 2019 and made an Elite Eight appearance in 2014.

Beilein helped bring the program back to the winning it had seen prior to the turn of the century. Michigan has been to eight Final Fours and six national title games and won the championship in 1989. Prior to Beilein taking over in 2007, though, the Wolverines hadn’t been to an NCAA tournament in a decade.

On the plus side, Michigan is one of the most nationally recognizable brands in college sports; while that’s due mostly to the football team, it carries over to basketball too. There’s plenty of success on the basketball side, money won’t be an issue and it’s a very attractive job for a long list of coaches.

Who could be on that list?

Keep it in-house

Beilein completely transformed his staff over the past few years, with Saddi Washington, Luke Yaklich and DeAndre Haynes each having just two or three seasons of experience on the Michigan sideline. But given the timing of Beilein’s decision, promoting an assistant coach is always an option — à la Butler and Brandon Miller when Brad Stevens left for the Boston Celtics in 2013.

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