On Friday, UNLV fired head basketball coach Marvin Menzies after just three seasons. Menzies was 48-48 during his tenure with the Runnin’ Rebels.
Menzies effectively replaced Dave Rice, who led the program to two NCAA Tournament berths in his first two seasons, 2012 and 2013. UNLV has not gone dancing since.
However, he clearly wasn’t the first choice. For 19 days, Chris Beard held the job after Rice’s firing midway through the 2015-16 season, but he resigned to take over at Texas Tech, where he has built the Red Raiders into a Big 12 contender.
UNLV may only be a Mountain West program, but it is one with a pretty storied history. Expectations are likely closer to most Power Five programs, and only raised by the recent success at rival Nevada.
The targets for the job are expected to be pretty big names, but perhaps the biggest name technically available won’t be getting a look.
Despite rumors, UNLV will reportedly not considered former Louisville and Kentucky head coach Rick Pitino.
Pitino is coming off of a successful coaching stint in Greece, but he likely wants to come back to the United States for a big job.
It won’t be in Las Vegas, though, per the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
One coach who won’t be considered is Rick Pitino, who won national championships at Louisville and Kentucky. He was fired by the Cardinals in October 2017 after the program was implicated in a federal corruption investigation. Pitino’s name has surfaced in the past with UNLV openings.
Pitino has previously denied interest in the potential UNLV opening, while Menzies, who previously coached under Pitino at Louisville, was still employed.
Even beyond Pitino, there could be some big names involved for the Runnin’ Rebels job. On Friday, Aaron Torres of The Athletic and FOX Sports Radio said that longtime Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is the “overwhelming favorite” for the job.
Have asked a bunch of people about the UNLV job since it opened yesterday. Consensus is Thad Matta is the overwhelming favorite. Dont know if he will take it, but its likely his if he wants it. And no, Rick Pitino is not a real option there, as entertaining as it might be
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) March 16, 2019
Jeff Goodman of Stadium has some interesting names listed as options, including NBA great and former Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd, Cleveland Cavaliers’ championship-winning coach Ty Lue, South Carolina’s Frank Martin, and Nevada’s Eric Musselman.