The fast-paced world of college coaching hires was on display Monday, as multiple outlets reported that Minnesota will hire Xavier assistant Ben Johnson to be its new men’s basketball leader.
Those reports came hours after KSTP Sports, an ABC affiliate in Saint Paul, Minnesota, reported that Utah State head coach Craig Smith, a Minnesota native, would be interviewing in person for the position.
BREAKING: Minnesota is expected to hire Xavier assistant Ben Johnson as its next head coach, sources told ESPN.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 22, 2021
No. Iowa hoops coach Ben Jacobson interviewed for the #Gophers job over the weekend, sources tell KSTP Sports. We hear at least 1 other in-person interview has already occurred, w/ at least 1 more on the horizon today. Utah St coach Craig Smith is expected to interview in-person.— KSTPSports (@KSTPSports) March 22, 2021
Minnesota fired Richard Pitino last week. He was the Golden Gophers’ coach for eight seasons.
Smith has been the Aggies’ head coach the past three seasons, compiling a 74-23 record during that span. His teams have qualified for the NCAA Tournament every year since he arrived in Logan — Utah State has gone 0-2 in its NCAA Tournament appearances under Smith, and the 2020 tournament was canceled by the pandemic.
Utah State has played well in conference under Smith, twice winning the Mountain West Conference Tournament and never finishing lower than a tie for second in the regular-season standings.
Any Smith move could have an impact on another coaching position in the state of Utah. Smith is widely seen as a candidate for the now-vacant coaching position at Utah, after the school parted ways with Larry Krystkowiak last week. The Athletic’s Tony Jones reported that former Utah Ute Alex Jensen, now an assistant with the Utah Jazz, is initially a leading candidate for the Utes’ job.