Two names have surfaced as the early favorites to take over as the next head coach of the West Virginia Mountaineers.
MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — The West Virginia Mountaineers are searching for a new head coach after Bob Huggins’ resignation over the weekend. Wren Baker, WVU’s Director of Athletics, said following the resignation that he will conduct a “national search” for its next head coach, which seems to eliminate the possibility of the program hiring within or promoting one of its current assistant coaches.
With that said, there are a few names that have gained real traction over the weekend and seem to be the early favorites to become the next head coach of the Mountaineers:
Wren Baker’s Choice:
Ben McCollum, Head Coach, Northwest Missouri State
McCollum, 42, worked for Wren Baker when Baker was the director of athletics at Northwest Missouri State from 2010-2013. It’s easy to say that McCollum is considered the top candidate for the job right now simply because of the familiarity Baker has with him, but the reality is that McCollum has been one of the most spectacular winners over the past several years in college basketball, albeit in Division II.
During his 15 seasons at Northwest Missouri State, McCollum has compiled an impressive 365-86 record (80% winning percentage) and has won the NCAA Division II national championship four times (2017, 2019, 2021 and 2022). So while some will (fairly) say that making the jump from Division II to Power 5 Conference basketball is a massive step, McCollum is really young for a head coach at age 42 and he is a winner.
I believe McCollum is the early favorite to become the next head coach of the Mountaineers and is exactly the head coach that Wren Baker wants to hire.
The Boosters/Donors’ Choice:
Andy Kennedy, Head Coach, UAB
Kennedy, 55, is reportedly the choice of donors of the program. He’s a close friend of Bob Huggins and likely the head coach that Huggins would recommend to take over for him if he has any pull remaining.
Kennedy was the head coach at Ole Miss for 12 seasons, where he compiled a 245-156 record (61% winning percentage) and made it to postseason play 8 times (6 NIT appearances and 2 NCAA appearances). Kennedy has been at UAB for 3 seasons and put together an outstanding 78-25 record (76% winning percentage) during his stint there.
Kennedy, who was an assistant under Huggins at Cincinnati, is a very similar coach to Huggins and would be the best option to keep boosters happy and perhaps keep the talented roster together. Huggins would almost certainly put his stamp of approval on the hire and provide assurance to his former players that Kennedy is the right man to replace him.