Gregg Marshall’s Decision A Cause For Concern?


Alabama’s search for Anthony Grant’s replacement as head basketball coach was sent back to square one late Wednesday night.

After a tense week of negotiation and deliberation, Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall made the decision to stay with the Shockers after the school put together a seven-year rollover deal to keep him in the Sunflower State.

As our own Chris Hale put it, Bill Battle can’t be blamed.

"One thing I have to respect is Battle finding the man he wanted and swinging for the fences to get him. Some thought Alabama would just automatically settle for a coach and not try to run with the big dogs. National media was telling everyone it wasn’t possible even when Wichita media said that it seemed Marshall was leaning toward heading to Tuscaloosa until a last minute momentum shift."

Going into this search, it was known that Alabama had one card to play – money, and boy did Battle play it. According to a report by the Wichita Eagle, Alabama’s offer to Marshall was a six-year deal worth between $4.2–4.9 million per year.

With those numbers in mind, that leaves only two realistic interpretations of Wednesday night’s events:

  • Gregg Marshall had no intention of leaving as long as Wichita State offered up an attractive deal.
  • Even with nearly $5 million on the table, Alabama isn’t an attractive job for a big name coach.

While both are likely situations and we have no way of knowing Marshall’s true motivation behind staying, there should be some cause for concern in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama went for a home run hire and missed out. This by no means marks the coaching search a complete failure, but it leaves Battle at a cross road.

Over the coming days, the administration will likely gauge the interest of several other successful head coaches, but if Marshall’s answer is any indication, money alone doesn’t buy you top coaching talent.

College basketball has changed. Mid-major coaches are no longer looking to jump to the first major conference job to open up.

Expanded television coverage and the growing budgets of smaller, basketball-centric schools have allowed coaches like Gregg Marshall, Archie Miller and Mark Few to grow into national recognition at mid-majors.

Alabama will likely make a call to Archie Miller at Dayton, but many believe that if any big name mid-major coach was going to make the jump, Gregg Marshall was the guy.

So, where does the coaching search stand? Murray State’s Steve Prohm remains the likely fall back option and would be a great fit with his Alabama ties and willingness to market the program.

No knock on Prohm, but today, he is no Gregg Marshall. He could easily return Alabama basketball to national prominence, but he will be building his own reputation simultaneously.

Starting at the top was no mistake. Bill Battle certainly knew the consequences of marking Gregg Marshall as the single front-runner for the job, but now those consequences must be dealt with.

The SEC has since added two proven head coaches in Ben Howland at Mississippi State and Rick Barnes at Tennessee.

It’s time to face the facts. Alabama has one play – money, and many coaches today can’t be bought.