The Search Continues


By the time the 2016-2017 season tips off, the Jackrabbit huddle will look very different after several coach and player departures. 

Top candidates emerging for men’s basketball head coach

A lot can change in a week, especially when it comes to finding a head coach. For South Dakota State, the head coach search appears to have gotten even murkier than it was this time last week. 

In last week’s issue, the Collegian looked at four potential coaching candidates, including Rob Klinkefus, the last remaining assistant for Scott Nagy’s staff. Though Klinkefus still has the edge of familiarity with the men’s basketball program, the list of other potential candidates has grown and expanded into more national territory. 

University of Nevada-Las Vegas Assistant Coach Ryan Miller and Augustana University Tom Billeter are still among the candidates, but according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Iowa State University Assistant Coach T.J. Otzelberger and Texas Tech University Assistant Vince Taylor have emerged as potential candidates as well. 

Though current and former players would like to see Klinkefus get the job, it’s becoming increasingly unlikely he’ll get the gig, though many hope to see him stay with the program in the assistant coach role. 

Players met with Taylor and Otzelberger within the past few days. Of these two candidates, Otzelberger reportedly made the biggest impression on the team and has quietly moved his name up the list of candidates. 

Otzelberger has spent much of his career in Ames, Iowa with the Cyclones but also served a stint as an assistant at the University of Washington. He was considered to be the favorite to earn the head coaching job at Iowa State when former coach Fred Hoiberg left to lead the Chicago Bulls, but the job ultimately went to Steve Prohm. 

According to a source close to the coach, Otzelberger seems to be closing in on being named the head coach, though it has not become official yet. 

Taylor is currently an assistant coach with Texas Tech under Tubby Smith. The Red Raiders went to the NCAA Tournament this past year. A former Duke player, Taylor spent time with the University of Minnesota, also under Smith, and even spent two years as an assistant for the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Athletic Director Justin Sell will not share information on coaches being considered for the job, as is customary with any coaching search, so this isn’t something special SDSU is doing to keep information close to the vest. Names will only circulate based on speculation and information obtained from other sources. 

Season ticket holders and fans still consider Miller as the favorite to get the job. Though Sell won’t comment publicly on Miller’s — or any other coach’s candidacy, the brother of South Dakota hero Mike Miller has made it known through social media that he wants the job. 

In the social media age, coaching searches can often be boiled down to who candidates follow and unfollow on Twitter. This is where Miller’s name becomes even more interesting. 

Since the job became open last week, Miller has spent some time following people on Twitter, most of which are linked to SDSU. Miller has followed Sell, Senator John Thune, wrestling coach Chris Bono, women’s basketball coach Aaron Johnston, the SDSU women’s basketball, baseball and wrestling official Twitter accounts, current SDSU players Mike Daum, Reed Tellinghuisen and Skyler Flatten and the Sanford Pentagon, where the Jacks have held games in each of the past two seasons. 

Those inside and outside of the program expect the search to heat up over the next few days, some even going so far as to say that a decision will come by the end of the week.