Ex-Duquesne coach: Pitt basketball job carries ‘wow’ factor, could be filled ‘suddenly’
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Pitt’s coaching search, like many others across the country, involves enlisting a corporate search firm with an accompanying six-figure fee — the going rate — to speed up the process of finding a replacement for Jamie Dixon.
The process can be exhilarating but also fraught with frustration among top candidates, who may be content in their current situation or actively seeking new employment — sometimes both.
For other coaches admiring from afar, the Pitt vacancy may be a fleeting opportunity but, in reality, far-fetched. So they hope for the best and wait for a call that significantly would change their lives but may never come.
“I do know in most cases, the administrator has a short list of certain guys that he feels would be a good fit. Sometimes things happen suddenly, and I think this will be a case when it happens pretty suddenly,” said Ron Everhart, a West Virginia assistant and former Duquesne coach.
And when arguably the two most attractive and visible candidates scratch their names from Pitt’s list — as was the case with Arizona coach Sean Miller and Dayton coach Archie Miller — it’s back to square one.
“Sometimes they have to go back to the blank sheet of paper and start a search,” Everhart said. “Normally, every administrator has their guy, so to speak, their group of guys that they would have an interest in right off the bat. With the help of search firms, who provide background information about different candidates, those would be the guys they would talk to right away.”
Everhart said athletic directors such as Pitt’s Scott Barnes wouldn’t normally contact a candidate until briefed by the search committee, unless they already know each other. At that point, Everhart said, the candidate realizes there is a legitimate interest in his services.
The search firm reaches out to people associated with the candidate. That could include a current boss — West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, for instance.
Everhart, who rebuilt his career following his dismissal from Duquesne four years ago, said he isn’t a candidate for the Pitt job and that Pitt hasn’t reached to him. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be interested.
He’s a former head coach of a mid-major program who now is the top recruiter for a top-10 team in a Power 5 conference. All qualities Barnes is seeking.
“I would be very interested,” said Everhart, 54. “Without hesitation. I would like to be a head coach again one day.
“Any job, especially a BCS job in a major metropolitan area like Pittsburgh where you have a great following and tremendous fan base, that’s a real destination job that any coach would look at and say, ‘Wow.’
“You get to line up against (Duke’s) Mike Krzyzewski, (North Carolina’s) Roy Williams and (Virginia’s) Tony Bennett. That’s a dream come true for anybody that wants to coach. The best of the best.”
Everhart said working under Huggins — one of five active Division I coaches with 700 or more career wins — has improved his overall understanding about coaching.
“I always thought I was a pretty decent basketball coach. I learned in four years under Coach Huggins more than I learned my entire career,” said Everhart, a native of Fairmont, W.Va., who also was a head coach at Northeastern and McNeese State. “You learn to look at the game in a different way. You learn to handle recruiting in a different way.
“From the strategic part, organizational part, game management, this is the first time in my career I had the opportunity to work at a BCS school. I’ve always been a mid-major, low-major type guy in terms of my coaching career. It’s a phenomenal thing to watch how Coach Huggins dictates the tempo of the game and turns it into advantageous situations for us. If you equate it to higher education, I’ve gone from being an undergraduate to having a basketball Ph.D.”