Who Will Succeed Coach K At Duke?
Capel’s return to Durham also raises the more intriguing question of who is next in line to succeed Mike Krzyzewski when he eventually decides to retire, a possibility that was made more clear recently with the retirement of Gary Williams, one of his chief rivals in the ACC at nearly the same age as Krzyzewski. The first question is whether the Duke administration will want to pursue an internal candidate or would look at outsiders. We imagine that Krzyzewski would make a strong push to hire an internal candidate or at least someone with strong ties to the program, but the performance of most of the disciples from his coaching tree has been underwhelming to put it lightly. There have been a number of prominent head coaches (Mike Brey, Tommy Amaker, Johnny Dawkins, Quin Synder, and Capel) who have coached under Krzyzewski during his time at Duke as well as two others serving as associates alongside Capel (Steve Wojciehowski and Chris Collins).
- Brey: The lone remaining bright spot on the coaching tree. Brey is the most decorated of the former assistants and has already won 337 games as a head coach including 238 during his 11 seasons coaching at Notre Dame. Brey has led the Fighting Irish to seven NCAA Tournament bids in 11 seasons including a Sweet Sixteen appearance in 2003 while being named Big East Coach of the Year on three occasions including this season when he also picked up several awards as National Coach of the Year. One of the potential knocks against Brey is that he never played for Krzyzewski while every other internal candidate did.
- Amaker: Probably the second most successful internal candidate. Amaker appears to have it all: the Duke pedigree, time coaching at a big-time school, and coaching success. Unfortunately the coaching success has come after two unsuccessful stints at name schools. After a mediocre performance at Seton Hall, Amaker landed a job at Michigan where he struggled to turn around a program that had every opportunity imaginable to become a contender in the Big Ten, but he was never able to do so. While Amaker has been successful at Harvard it is worth noting that he has yet to win a conference title in the Ivy League.
- Dawkins: One of the greatest Duke players ever, Dawkins was considered to be on the short list of successors as recently as a year or two ago based on having spent a decade on the Duke sideline under Krzyzewski, but the shine appears to have worn off of Dawkins after three middling seasons at Stanford where he has struggled to stay above .500 (49-48, .505). While Dawkins will certainly be a contender for the job, his inability to put together a successful team in what has been a mediocre conference the past few years could be a warning sign for the Duke administration.
- Snyder: A decade ago he appeared to be the most likely successor to Krzyzewski. After the 2002 season, Snyder was the hottest young coach in the country. He was coaching at one of the premier program in the country (Missouri) and had taken the Tigers to three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances including the Elite Eight that season. Unfortunately it went downhill quickly from there as a series of scandals and disappointing seasons led to him being forced out of Missouri. He was left to spend the next three seasons coaching in Austin (NBDL) before getting a job as an assistant for the Philadelphia 76ers. Snyder may get back to coaching high-level college basketball some day, but it won’t be in time to get the Duke job.
- Capel: Two years ago Capel would have been a solid candidate, but like Snyder before him, Capel has underperformed lately although he didn’t leave his Big 12 coaching position in as ignominious a manner as Snyder did. Capel also ended up in a much better position to take over for Krzyzewski as his next-in-command at Duke instead of being relegated to the NBDL. Although Capel has the least experience working under Krzyzewski of any of the current associates/assistants he is the only one with any experience as a head coach and while the last two years have been tough on Capel he had a solid record before that even if you can attribute a lot of his only trip to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament to having Blake Griffin.
- Collins: One of the two associate head coaches at Duke, Collins appeared to be the most qualified of the staff before Capel joined and it seemed to show as he was the one often assigned to deal with sideline reporter questions at the beginning or end of a half. He also has the family pedigree with his father (Doug Collins) being one of the most prominent coaches in the NBA in the past 25 years. Unfortunately you don’t get to inherit head coaching experience from your father so we would be shocked if Duke handed over the keys to one of the most prestigious programs in sports to an unproven 35-year-old.
- Wojciechowski: An even more unlikely choice than Collins. Wojo might get a very good head coach position in the near future, but we cannot imagine Duke handing over the program to the mercurial former point guard. Of course we would love to see it just to see the reaction from fans of opposing teams as Wojo is one of the few individuals who could inspire more hatred towards Duke than Krzyzewski does.
It remains possible that Duke could go outside of its immediate or associated family, but it is hard to imagine who they would target. If they were to go outside it seems like the potential candidates would need to fit the following characteristics: (1) successful–at least an Elite Eight appearance or consistent Sweet Sixteen appearances; (2) young–would probably have to be around 45 or younger because Duke probably would not want to be searching for another coach in the next 10 years; and (3) be seasoned enough to handle the national spotlight that Duke enjoys. Based on those characteristics they would probably focus on someone like Brad Stevens, Sean Miller, or Mark Few. While all three have continually reiterated their commitment to their current programs we have a hard time seeing a coach not seriously considering the opportunity to become the head coach at Duke (unless we are talking about someone like Roy Williams). This is not to say that every coach at a less prestigious program would jump a the chance to take over at Duke, but it would be something that nearly every one would have to seriously consider.
I think it'll be Wojo...keep the Polish bloodlines
imo it will def be a duke guy
Chidi Ahonotu! Always keep them on their toes!
On the real though, I think that Wojo might be in the lead. It would not surprise me at all if Capel takes another HC job somewhere, but I think Wojo is waiting for Coach K to retire, he is riding with Duke until than, which has to put him in the lead. Plus, Duke needs to carry on their strong tradition of coaches who have incredibly difficult names to spell and pronounce! Without that, they will definitely lose their competitive edge.
hopefully he coaches one day...he's got a good basketball mind!!!
brad stevens butler
brad stevens butler
A lot depends on how long Coach K goes on and even more on who he recommends I would guess. I suppose that his loyalty might be to one of his assistants but Duke could even take an Head Coach who had worked in the NBA or a top NBA Assistant if they wanted as a lighter college season would probably be very attractive to some NBA Coaches or Assistants who could be worn down by the long NBA season and Duke could pay a very competitive salary.