Elon just can’t stay out of the news. No, not that one.
And yes, this news is pretty niche relative the world’s richest man trying to buy Twitter.
Now that the lede is well-buried, CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander first reported news of Billy Taylor accepting a job to lead the Phoenix after their head coach, Mike Schrage, accepted an assistant coach position with the Duke Blue Devils.
Breaking, per sources to @CBSSports: Elon is hiring Iowa assistant Billy Taylor to be its next men’s b-ball coach. Taylor, 48, was previously head coach at Lehigh from ’02-07 and took Lehigh to the ’04 NCAAs. He coached Ball State from ’07-13 and D-II Belmont Abbey from ’16-19.— Matt Norlander (@MattNorlander) April 15, 2022
Taylor’s credentials are what one would expect for a program like the Phoenix to hire, considering they have been a D-1 program since 1999 and never made the NCAA tournament. 214-210 record across three programs (Lehigh, Ball State, and D-II Belmont Abbey) with a single NCAA tournament performance in his second season at Lehigh. Before joining Fran’s staff in 2019, he took BA’s record from 14-15 to 23-8 across three season.
He endeared himself to the Hawkeye faithful by guiding them to a win in one of the most important games of the season, a 71-59 victory over Minnesota after a three-losses-in-four slump with Fran McCaffery out due to COVID protocols. SirNicholas rhapsodized it well this time last week.
The ties between Taylor & Fran run deep. He played at Notre Dame while Fran was an assistant there (later joining the staff after a brief accountancy career) and followed him at UNC-Greensboro as an assistant. After spreading his wings in Bethlehem and Muncie, he returned to Fran’s staff in 2013. At 48 years old, he was the youngest assistant on the staff.
Going forward, a couple things to monitor: will Taylor take anybody from the Iowa program with him? Courtney Eldridge (a guard at UNC-Greensboro while Fran/Taylor were there who’s currently director of recruiting and player development) seems like a candidate for his staff, as well the opening Billy leaves. Then there are outgoing transfers in Austin Ash & Josh Ogundele who could head to North Carolina with him.
Iowa will also look to backfill his position and I suspect Eldridge is the guy who will take over recruiting duties in the interim. Though he doesn’t have head coaching experience like Iowa’s other two assistants, he’s been around long enough to demonstrate his value. Another name to watch might be Matt Gatens, currently an assistant at Drake. Fran could also use the opportunity to bring in a more defensive mind to mesh a system with Iowa’s preferred up tempo game.
Good luck to Billy Taylor on his new adventure. We wish him well at Elon and hope to see them in their first NCAA tournament.
One final question: will your staff wear suits?