So what will Taylor do now? It’s the fifth head-coaching chance in the Big 12 in the past two seasons, with Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech hiring new coaches at the end of last season.
Taylor will be looking for someone to break the program’s three-season streak of losing records, get it bac into Big 12 contention and be able to handle the new realities of the transfer portal and name, image and likeness. For those reasons, it’s unlikely Taylor will pursue an assistant coach.
Here are five possible targets for Taylor.
Brad Underwood, head coach, Illinois
He’s probably the coach everyone in Manhattan wants. Our Joe Mathieu did a rather unscientific Twitter poll and that’s what he discovered. Underwood is a McPherson, Kansas, native, a former Kansas State player and former assistant coach under Frank Martin. Once Underwood finally got his first head-coaching gig at Stephen F. Austin in 2013, he led the Lumberjacks to three Southland Conference titles and NCAA Tournament berths before a one-year stint at Oklahoma State, in which he led the Cowboys to an NCAA Tournament berth. When Underwood and OSU couldn’t agree to a raise, he left for Illinois, where he’s finally turned the Illini into the winning team it was under, well Bruce Weber. The Illini just won the Big Ten regular-season title. Can the Wildcats pry him away?
Chris Jans, head coach, New Mexico State
He’s led the Aggies to four regular-season WAC titles and two WAC Tournament titles, and the Aggies are the No. 1 seed in the WAC Tournament this weekend. The Aggies have won more than 80 percent of their conference games since he took over in 2017. The Iowa native has some Kansas roots, as he coached for a year at Independence CC and spent some time as an assistant at Wichita State. In his one year as a head coach at Bowling Green in 2014-15, he won 21 games, 13 more than the Falcons won the year before. He’s used to turning things around fast.
Dana Ford, head coach, Missouri State
The former Wichita State assistant coach is working his way up the ranks fast. He’s already on his second head-coaching job. The Bears are riding high with 23 victories this season. The Bears missed out on an automatic berth by failing to win the Missouri Valley tournament title, but Ford is building a potential mid-major monster. When you watch him coach or watch him recruit, it’s not hard to think of Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton Jr.
Mark Turgeon, former head coach, Maryland
The Terrapins let Turgeon go earlier this season, but he’s won 476 games and taken three different teams to the NCAA Tournament. He has Midwest roots, too. His second head-coaching stint was at Wichita State (2000-07) and he took the Shockers to a Sweet 16. He’s a Topeka, Kansas, native, played at Kansas under Larry Brown, and was an assistant coach under Brown and Roy Williams in Lawrence. Plus, he took the Texas A&M Aggies to four straight NCAA Tournament berths. Is he willing to take on his alma mater?
Mark Fox, head coach, California
Fox isn’t having the best of runs at Cal right now, as he hasn’t had a winning season in three seasons on the west coast. But, at both Nevada and Georgia, he was a consistent winner, taking those teams to 10 postseason berths in 14 seasons. He gets the rough-and-tumble world of the Big 12, as he was a former Kansas State assistant coach form 1994-2000 and is a Garden City, Kansas, native. He’s the riskiest candidate on the list, given the Golden Bears’ recent lack of success.
And One More …
Greg Marshall, former head coach Wichita State
Would Kansas State touch the former Shockers coach after the physical abuse allegations that led to his resignation in 2020? Yes, he’s won more than 500 games and led the Shockers to the Final Four. But does K-State want to deal with that baggage?
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
Note: This story corrects Mark Turgeon’s hometown.