Ben Howland reportedly a serious candidate at Mississippi State

Former UCLA and Pittsburgh head coach Ben Howland is reportedly a serious candidate for the vacancy at Mississippi State.
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Ben Howland is a serious candidate for the Mississippi State coaching job, according to a report.

NBC Sports reports that they have heard from multiple sources that Howland is a “serious candidate” for the position, which became vacant when the Bulldogs fired Rick Ray Saturday. Ray was just 37-60 in three seasons in Starkville and was 13-19 this season. Compare that to Howland, who has taken three different programs to the NCAA Tournament a total of 10 times, including five Sweet 16 appearances and three Final Fours (2006-2008 with UCLA).

Howland, 57, has spent the past two seasons out of coaching since being canned by UCLA following the 2013 season. The Bruins actually went 25-10 that season and won the conference, but a first-round tourney exit coupled with decreasing fan support, not to mention a critical story by SI that buried him, led the school to make the move.

Howland enjoyed success at Northern Arizona, Pitt and UCLA, where he turned around struggling programs and made them into serious winners by his third season at each spot. Hiring him would be a serious coup for Mississippi State.

Bulldogs AD Scott Stricklin told the Clarion Ledger they have already begun the process at looking for a new coach.

“I’ve done some homework. I try to stay on top of the marketplace as best I can,” Stricklin said. “I have an idea of some names that interest me more than others. I’ve already started the process in trying to figure out which ones of those were something that maybe fruitful.”

It seems like they’re trying to act swiftly in order to get ahead of the competition.

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