Shaka Smart #1 candidate at Wake Forest?

In case you missed it – Wake Forest and Jeff Bzdelik parted ways yesterday and the Demon Deacons have now joined Boston College and Virginia Tech as the Atlantic Coast Conference institutions searching for a new head basketball coach. (If you want to follow various coaching carousel discussions as well as a variety of other basketball topics then we highly encourage you to click here.)

Obviously, the Wake Forest job is the best one currently available in the league. So, is it good enough to ultimately land one of the best and most promising coaches in America? We’ll soon find out as is reporting that VCU’s Shaka Smart is Ron Wellman’s leading candidate.

Virginia Commonwealth coach Shaka Smart is the No. 1 candidate for the Wake Forest head coach vacancy, according to sources.

Smart is 137-45 in five years with the Rams. He’s taken VCU to the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2011. VCU is a No. 5 seed in this year’s tournament.

The Wake Forest administration has labeled Smart as an ideal fit. In addition to his success at VCU, Wake Forest believes Smart carries the same values it wishes to portray. Among those are an emphasis on academics and integrity. Smart’s style of play — which includes a fast tempo and an aggressive, pressing defense — is also appealing to the administration.

It’s unclear how much interest Smart has in the job. It’s believed that he is holding out for one of the truly elite college basketball jobs in the country, and he would have to determine if Wake Forest presents that opportunity.

Smart reportedly turned down multiple offers in excess of $2 million per year in recent years. In 2012, he signed a contact with VCU that guaranteed him $1.36 million per year with winning incentives that could amount to around $400,000 of supplemental income. Former coach Jeff Bzdelik earned a total compensation of $1.39 million in 2011.

Included in Smart’s contract is a clause that he would owe VCU $600,000 if he leaves before April 30, 2014.

Former UCLA coach Ben Howland is also one of the top candidates on Wake Forest’s radar, sources said. He led the Bruins to a 398-205 record and three consecutive Final Four appearances from 2003-13.

Duke assistant coach Jeff Capel is pursuing the Wake Forest job, but he is not a serious candidate at this time, sources said. Capel was most recently a head coach at Oklahoma from 2006-11, where he compiled a 175-110 record.

We’ll have more on like in WolfpackLand a little later after we’ve emotionally picked up the pieces a little more.

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Home Forums Shaka Smart #1 candidate at Wake Forest?

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    In case you missed it – Wake Forest and Jeff Bzdelik parted ways yesterday and the Demon Deacons have now joined Boston College and Virginia Tech as t[See the full post at: Shaka Smart #1 candidate at Wake Forest?]


    Smart would be a slam dunk hire, obviously.

    Howland is interesting. Not sure how I feel about that one.

    Greg Marshall is probably not a candidate.

    Archie Miller has to be on the list.

    This is a good job in what will be the best conference in America once Louisville joins. Wake has won big before. Wellman clearly struck out on Bzz. Doubt he swings and misses again.


    Wake will never be the powerhouse in football – a big season here or there but not even Grobe could make them the powerhouse. So basketball is their best bet to make a big name for the school, and basketball has been there before.

    The point of my comment above is Wake should open the checkbook and spend for b-ball. Howland has been an absolute nightmare at UCLA in terms of management and team unity. Smart is not necessarily seeking the bucks – he could have had that already somewhere else. I dont think he leaves VCU unless it is an elite program calling. Will be an interesting search though.


    Shaka will listen because the contract would be long and he apparently likes a stable opportunity. Money won’t be the deciding factor for him since he is still in demand.

    Archie….I hope not because I’m still hoping for the pipe dream that one of the Miller brothers end up in Raleigh. Plus I only see Wake hiring a “splash” coach since the drama with Blitz has been non stop as a bad hire.

    Interesting for sure. The ACC is appealing right now with all the expansion and big name coaches. I say Shaka is a 50/50 shot due to timing.


    Already had a Wake alum laugh at me when I asked if they’d take Gott. Similar to Herb, everyone lauds Gotts mediocrity (NCAA bids) but no one would actually hire him.


    We don’t need Archie we have Gott for the next 20 years. Errrr yikes that doesn’t sound appealing does it? Wait till he stops recruiting well then the wheels will really come off. No NCAA bids.


    Archie’s resume and credentials will continue (IMHO) to grow…

    Whether he is interested or not….don’t know. He MIGHT be better served to stay and finish the job for the Flyers. Plenty of time in the future to get the REALLY big bucks with a team that has some talent (not that BZZ did not have that). Who knows.

    Shaka…..looks like the VCU fans will have to take out MORE home equity lines or the wives (daughters?) of the heavy hitters will have to go on the “Street” again to earn the bucks to keep him there.

    The VCU fans, according to a friend in Richmond, are a little tired of playing “Lets make a NEW deal” every March/April.

    Shaka has set the tone that he is NOT a stable commodity. We (many reliable sources) had his PERSONAL commitment and our lawyers and his agent (lawyers) stayed up all night in a motel room in Richmond on Saturday night hammering out the details of his contract. THEN, his overly PG wife said….”I ain’t leaving Richmond”. Each year, the VCU folks hold their breath as a new suitor comes along.

    Will be bolt? Will his wife be happy in WS? WHO KNOWS….but her ability to control his career moves is a MAJOR negative (again opinion).

    Ron Wellman has ONE shot to revive WF’s BB program…and if he fails at this, then Ron will be fishing with Lee (I KNOW BB) Fowler and be unemployed.

    The Coaching Carousel has started up…..VERY slowly. As each team departs the NCAAT, then there will be more folks reaching out to grab the MANY Brass Rings that will be dangled from various heights and positions.

    Shaka in WFU. He would probably RIDE THE HARLEY HIMSELF….and the Demon Deacon would not be the person that aphiaxates the crowd…


    $$ is always a factor. Wake can pay an extra million a year and he knows he can win there. Plus Gary Williams approves of Ron Wellman.


    Howland would be very interesting … I’m not sure if he would be interested in the job, but it may fall that way.


    With this list of names leaking out publically I can’t help but think they’re going to embarass themselves, which I fully support.

    Unless of course, it’s all a smokescreen. And we know about those…


    If I were Ron Wellman, I would be trying to get Bob Hoffman’s cellphone number.

    I really feel a LOT better since watching this game.

    Only saw the second half, but the body language on the Dukie side was UGLY. Also notice that Mikey chose (I suppose he had the option) of sitting on the Visitor’s Side as he always does in Raleigh.

    Charles Barkley sounds like he has a REAL head on his shoulder in his comments about Mercer.


    Pun filled thought of the day: Smart to WF would be a smart hire if WF could pull it off. I suspect Smart thinks it would be smart to leave VCU while bigger suitors are still calling. Eventually the big suitors smarten up and decide someone just wants to stay at a “lesser” job. As a NC State fan (or member of the administration), it would really smart if Smart took the WF job.

    In all seriousness, I expect Wellman to swing for the fences. What does he really have to lose?

    Howland is not that guy though. He ran a train wreck at UCLA and seems too blue collar for WF.

    Arch is much too green. I think he’s a good coach and will be a great one. I don’t think that’s the hire that saves Wellman’s hide. I’m really hoping that he’ll end up at NC State, but that is looking less likely. We’ll have Gott a long time given the way the contract is structured.

    You heard it here first — Tommy Amaker. Wake will “steal” one from Harvard, which is what they aspire to be. He’ll be a hot name after what appears will be a Sweet 16 run. You have to think he’s itching to prove himself again at a a high major.

    Off topic, but the Duke loss leaves me mixed. Does it take some heat off of State short term? Yep. Am I happy on some level to watch the Rat go down? Yep.

    It’s bad for the league, just like us blowing a huge lead was. Indirectly, that hurt us.

    It is probably good for Duke long term, because the last few Duke teams have really been hurt by going for the 1 and done type players. I think they’ll go back to their traditional model and actually be better. What’s good for Duke is typically not good for State.


    I’ll say he ends up in Atlanta one day soon. Too good a fit.


    ^^ rye humor… exactly what we all need today… “>}

    yes… it hurts all of the ACC schools… in the backpocket…

    And I’m 99.99% sure that’s the Bell Tower on Hillsborough Street in today’s body background image here on but…

    Is anybody else asking the question…

    “Why is the color of the sky “DOOK BLUE” ???”

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    SHAKA at WFU would truly be a WtF


    I can’t imagine Shaka Smart taking the Wake Forest job as long as Ron Wellman is the AD there. Wellman’s tenure is almost a mirror image of Lee Fowler’s tenure here. Neither HWSNBN or Jeff Bzdilek, both immensely unpopular with a huge part of their teams’ fan base, left on their own accord when they should have been fired long ago. And those two weren’t the only coaches who overstayed their welcome at those schools under these two ADs.

    Reminiscent of many if not most of NCSU’s hires in revenue sports, I believe Wake will end up taking who they can get, not who they want.

    Also, I don’t think Duke’s loss makes State’s loss last night any easier to take for Wolfpack fans. Duke will simply re-load next season, but what in the world will State have next season? After what I saw last night, I wish the entire State team AND coaching staff would not be back next season. I’ve followed State basketball since the late 1950s and this one ranks up there with the worst loss ever in terms of defining a program and its direction. This ship ain’t coming in because it ain’t gonna sail.

    Until fundamental changes are made in recruiting and coaching hires, I honestly don’t think things are ever going to get any better for State sports, especially in basketball and football. And with ACC expansion putting smaller fish like State and Wake in a larger pond, the futures of sports at these two schools are at best not good.


    Well Smart is now free to talk.

    ^13. I’ve been following State basketball since only ’97 and although last night’s meltdown made me feel sick (literally), I can name 2 or 3 others that were worse.


    “After what I saw last night, I wish the entire State team AND coaching staff would not be back next season.”

    I’ve read some zingers the last two days, but that one takes takes the cake.


    ^13. While you have been watching pack bb much longer than I have, I think your statements are a little dramatic. Does our coaching staff have weaknesses? God,yes. But they can’t make kids hit free throws, you just have to make sure they practice them (which I’m almost certain gott does). Fact is college basketball is a different sport now, 15 point leads get blown all the time. It’s still gut wrenching for me that we are the only 12 seed not in the round of 32, but I would rather watch this team again and again than watch last year’s team. Our lack of defense is disheartening at times, and is by far my biggest complaint of our coaching staff. But his staff is still the best since I’ve had the pleasure (and pain) of being an avid NCSU fan (granted only since 05, so my view is somewhat limited).

    I’ll love the Wolfpack win or lose, I just always prefer we win.


    Not sure if it’s news or not, but Buzz Williams to va tech.

    Lunatic Fringe

    After what I saw last night, I wish the entire State team AND coaching staff would not be back next season.

    VCU was up 10 with 3 mins left, went into OTm, and lost to Stephen F Austin…due to missed FTs and bonehead plays/fouls. Hell – they were up 4 with 10 secs left. The icing on the cake was fouling 3pt shooter up 4 with time running down.

    I guess this sh!t happens even to the great and powerful Shaka.


    Va Tech did well with Buzz. That’s a better hire than I expected them to pick up. He got a 7 year deal as well.


    Love all the negativity toward Gott, when the previous coach never got us in the dance ever. Gott 3 years at State and 3 years in the NCAA. The coach can’t shoot FTs for players. Our loss to St. Louis was on them, more so on the great POY Warren. Absolutely terrible at the FT line, he should give his award back. And if he aspires to make the NBA, he owes us at least one more year, after the St Louis game, shooting 4 of 14 from the FT stripe. And the team was 20 of 37. Thus a loss after leading by 16. Hope the loss sticks in their crawl. Just totally inexcusable, and certainly not the coaches fault.


    I HOPE all of this negativity is just a reaction to the pain we are currently feeling. As with all things, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

    Nonetheless — we DON’T want Shaka at Wake Forest.

    Additionally, I am very surprised at the strength of the hire at VPI. Never thought they could get someone of Buzz Williams’ stature. Goes to show there is a sea-change going on with major conferences.


    Shaka to GT does make a ton of sense. And Howland would be a GREAT backup plan for Wake. He’s essentially a better version of Jamie Dixon, and that would qualify as a massive upgrade for the Deacs. They need to get respectable fast.

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