Duke basketball: Analyst’s pick to replace Coach K seems most unlikely

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /

Pick any day; chances are someone is picking the next Duke basketball king.

Though Mike Krzyzewski enjoys a “lifetime contract” as Duke basketball head coach, his current payment arrangement expires after next season. With that in mind, also keeping in mind current world conditions, some of both his fans and detractors have questioned whether the 73-year-old is about to begin an unannounced farewell tour.

It’s likely not even Krzyzewski himself knows that answer at this point. Nevertheless, sportswriters and talking heads alike never stop practicing the dark art of predicting his replacement.

ALSO READ: Six reasons Coach K may never retire

On Sunday, Fox Sports analyst Tate Frazier gave his top three candidates. Pitt head coach Jeff Capel and Arizona State’s Bobby Hurley, his No. 3 and No. 2 selections, respectively, both make sense. Both played under Coach K, and neither has a tainted reputation in the college game.

But at No. 1, Frazier (the network’s presumed successor to Skip Bayless?) put forth a name most of his peers have long seen as a long shot: Utah Jazz head honcho Quin Snyder.

Sure, like Capel, Snyder was both a player (1985-89) and an assistant (1993-99) in Durham. However, after leaving the Duke basketball bench and then thriving in his first four seasons as the head man at Missouri, leading to the Tigers starting his fifth campaign (2003-04) at No. 5 in the AP Poll, the good times began to sour.

Following two 16-win seasons, which coincided with 42 NCAA violations, disappointing losses, and no shortage of rumors swirling around campus in regards to the program leader’s personal behavior, Snyder resigned 21 games into the 2005-06 season.

Here’s what Mike Krzyzewski said at the time about his one-time protégé:

“The environment he’s been in and the Missouri people have been in for the last couple years has not been conducive to great success. He still hung in there and fought, and they finally came to a point where it was better to part ways and move on. I know that he’s very much appreciative of the opportunity to work there and the experience he’s gotten there. He’s a good coach, and Missouri’s a good program, but it was time to get on to a different course of action.”

The former Duke basketball point guard would likely pass up the job anyway

Following the troubles at Missouri, Snyder took a brief break before embarking on a journey to restore his image. He began with a successful three-year stop as a head coach in what was then the NBA D-League. Then, spanning the next four years, he held assistant gigs for three NBA franchises and a team in the Russian Professional Basketball League.

Granted, Snyder has a notable work ethic, evident in the J.D. and M.B.A. degrees he earned while working as an assistant under Coach K. Plus, he has again proven his hoops genius across six seasons at the helm in Utah, where he’s managed a 268-206 record despite some ho-hum talent.

On the other hand, a large part of being a college coach revolves around recruiting, which, of course, isn’t in Snyder’s job description in the NBA. And this is where the 53-year-old’s past mistakes could catch up to him whenever Coach K does call it quits.

Plus, considering Snyder seems happy where he’s at — not to mention that Mike Krzyzewski’s replacement will undoubtedly experience unfair pressure from the get-go — he probably gives zero thought to returning to his old stomping grounds to lead the Duke basketball program.

light. Related Story. Ranking all 40 Duke teams under Coach K

Stay tuned to Ball Durham for more news and views regarding Mike Krzyzewski, his possible retirement plans, his likely successor, and all things Duke basketball.