Two of the first "BCS/Power" conference teams with coaching vacancies have filled them, with coaches from the Metro Atlantic. Perhaps the most stunning is the Iowa Hawkeyes prying Fran McCaffery away from Siena (and perhaps the St. John's and Seton Hall openings in the greater NY area). Seton Hall fired former Manhattan Jasper coach Bobby Gonzalez after four years and have replaced him with 2010 MAAC Coach of the Year, Kevin Willard of Iona.
First, the most suprising of the moves, McCaffery to Iona. McCaffery has been rumored to fill numorous jobs, assuming that he would leave MAAC powerhouse Siena, who have three NCAA appearances and two NCAA wins in three years. It seemed a more natural fit for McCaffery to take one of the vacant Big East jobs in the NY area, Seton Hall or St. John's, especially since he has recruiting ties to the area. However, taking the Iowa job might have been the right move. I think it is much easier to finish in the top half of the Big Ten (and making the NCAAs) than it would be to finish in the top half of the Big East (and making the NCAAs).
Think about it. At St. John's or Seton Hall, you have to compete not only with about 6 (or more) basketball powerhouses and even more "bubble teams" that are consistently competitive throughout the years. Iowa had a bad few years under Todd Lickliter, who replaced current New Mexico coach Steve Alford in 2007 after he left for the Lobos job. Personally, I think that this is a great hire for Iowa from a basketball sense. Certainly McCaffery will need a few recruiting assistants for the unfamiliar midwest region, but that can be solved. Certainly I think that Iowa can compete in the Big Ten, where Minnesota was one of the last teams in to the NCAAs and Illinois one of the last teams out.
Next, Kevin Willard is an up and comer and pretty much the polar opposite of the recently released Bobby Gonzalez. (I told you at Rider Bobby, to get off our court. You didn't listen. Whoops, sorry, conditioned response.) Willard very quickly turned around an Iona program that had a two win season a few years ago, and a 12-win season in Willard's first year. Also likely to be hired is Willard's top assistant/recruiter, Shaheen Holloway, a former Seton Hall point guard.
Willard might not be the big-name hire Pirate fans wanted, but I think Hall has a good coach on their bench. Willard's father is a former head coach and currently Rick Pitino's top assistant at Louisville. Plus, Willard is again a much more calming force and will not blow a gasket like a former Pirates coach. Remember, Seton Hall wasn't that far off this season. I think Gonzalez's firing was more to due with Hall's off the court issues and his coaching antics (7 Tech fouls this year). Even if Willard cleans up Seton Hall's program, that would be considered a positive right now. Seton Hall certainly has a good chance at a NCAA tourney run in the next few seasons.
And what about Gonzalez's coaching search. I heard on SNY yesterday that he was interested in the Hofstra job, but the people at the Pride said that he is not being considered for the position. Excellent. Never liked him.