Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Monday's national championship game signified the official end to the 2014-15 men's basketball season, but for a healthy majority of programs across the country, the season came to a close a while ago.
That gave the programs that didn't earn a spot in one of the multiple college basketball playoff systems a little bit of extra time to weigh their options going forward. And for many that didn't do enough to make the postseason, a coaching change was in order.
It happens at the end of every season across the sports landscape. Usually dubbed "Black (insert the day after whatever day the season ends)," coaching vacancies open up like booking availabilities in a rat-infested hotel.
The college basketball offseason kick-started with a handful of notable coaching changes, some before the ball was even tipped in the first NCAA Tournament game. While most were among mid-level programs that just needed a different direction, some made headlines right away.
Rick Barnes leaving Texas is certainly one of the biggest offseason transitions at one of the largest programs. The 11th-seeded Longhorns fell 56-48 to Butler in the second round of the NCAA Tournament - a game that did little to present Texas as a primo landing destination for anyone hoping to return the Longhorns to former glory.
Barnes was very successful in his career at Texas, operating the program for 17 seasons and to over 600 wins while wearing the burnt orange. But the Longhorns never made any waves in the postseason, and at a school like Texas, with an athletic budget and resources that stretch through the roof, that eventually led to his dismissal.
Barnes didn't have to wait long to land his next gig, though. He traded in his rusty orange for a vibrant Tennessee Volunteers orange, replacing Donnie Tyndall, who was ousted from his seat at the helm of the SEC program after just two seasons on the job. Tyndall was let go after the NCAA informed Tennessee that the coach would be charged under its new coach control regulations, stemming from issues he had at Southern Miss.
So Barnes certainly didn't stay unemployed for very long and left Texas searching for its next pilot. Former VCU coach Shaka Smart, who was immediately thought to be Texas' top target, was hired late last week by Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson. That left the Atlantic 10 Conference Rams with a hole that they filled with Chattanooga's Will Wade (a former Smart assistant). Wade was the 2014 Southern Conference Coach of the Year.
Smart's contract is for seven years with the Longhorns, with six fully guaranteed and an average compensation of about $3 million annually.
The other big name that was given the boot following the season was St. John's coach Steve Lavin. It seems odd to see Lavin gone after just a few seasons in Queens, especially after the Red Storm had one of their more successful recent seasons, culminating in an NCAA Tournament appearance as a ninth-seed in the South Region. But reports state contract negotiations broke down between the athletic department and Lavin, and the university decided to go another route.
Enter first-time head coach Chris Mullin, an NBA Hall of Famer who was a surprise hire by St. John's in what appears to be a swing-for-the-fences approach. Mullin played for the Red Storm and has been circulating throughout NBA front offices since his time on the court came to an end. This will be his first run at coaching.
Arizona State parted ways with Herb Sendek, who registered a 154-138 record during his time with the Sun Devils but had only two NCAA Tournament appearances. The 52-year-old Sendek has been to the tourney eight times with three different programs (he took ASU to the Big Dance twice), so chances are he'll land on his feet with another solid offer.
One of the biggest splashes was made by Mississippi State, which finished toward the bottom of the SEC in terms of scoring offense, and was at best a middle-of-the-road team that played the role of spoiler a few times. Rick Ray's leash wasn't exceptionally long, and after three seasons of mediocrity, the Bulldogs decided to give him the boot.
It was the hire for MSU that turned some heads. The Bulldogs landed former UCLA and Pittsburgh coach Ben Howland, who owns a 401-206 record in his career with three Final Four appearances at UCLA and two Sweet 16 runs with Pitt.
Mississippi State's program is certainly a project, but the Bulldogs have had some talented players come through in recent years. And the SEC as a whole appears to be building its resume across the board, with standout coaching in Kentucky's John Calipari, Florida's Billy Donovan and Auburn's Bruce Pearl. Toss Howland into the mix and that's quite a nucleus of accomplished coaches.
Speaking of the SEC, Alabama parted ways with Anthony Grant after a turbulent regular season. The Crimson Tide only made the NCAA Tournament once under Grant in his four years at the helm. It appeared the Tide were favorites to land Wichita State's Gregg Marshall, but the Missouri Valley program and Marshall reached an agreement that would keep him in Wichita.
The Tide instead reached an agreement with former Dallas Mavericks and (then) New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson to replace Grant. Johnson won NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2004-05 after taking over the Mavericks halfway through the season and leading them to the NBA Finals, where they lost in six games.
Other notable coaching changes include: George Mason taking on Dave Paulsen, who is coming over after a seven-season run with Bucknell; Green Bay losing Brian Wardle to Bradley; Southeast Missouri State firing Dickey Nutt; DePaul leader Oliver Purnell resigning after the season; and The Citadel coach Chuck Driesell, son of legendary coach Lefty Driesell, being let go in favor of former VMI coach Duggar Baucom.
The coaching carousel isn't even close to finishing up its run and already there have been plenty of splashes in the employment pool. As programs continue their pursuit of "the one," simply sit back and watch as it all unfolds.