One intriguing candidate for the Gophers head coaching vacancy is former Timberwolves head coach Flip Saunders. One of the factors working against Saunders is his lack of coaching experience at the college level, but here are the other factors he brings to the table:

Coaching Experience-

  • Minnesota Timberwolves: 1995-2005
  • Detroit Pistons: 2005-2008
  • Washington Wizards 2009-2012
  • Career record: 638–526, 47-51 playoff record
  • 4 first place finishes (2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008)
  • Reached the NBA Conference Finals 4 times (2003-2004, 2005-2006, 2006-2007, 2007-2008)

Pros brought to table-

  • Saunders is a Gopher alum and would appeal to fans and other alumni.
  • Saunders can appeal to recruits due to his NBA coaching experience
  • Saunders knows the area, has current U of M ties, and is a great talent evaluator.


  • No previous college coaching experience.
  • Not as big of a name as some other candidates.
  • May be more interested in returning to the NBA.

My thoughts-

Flip could be a great hire should the Gophers be unable to land Shaka Smart. Flip could appeal to recruits looking to get into the NBA due to his past experience as a head coach. Saunders could be motivated to coach the team due to his current and previous ties to the university. But due to that previous NBA experience, Saunders could also be waiting for another opportunity to get back into the NBA. Saunders could come at a cheaper price than other coaches too due to the fact that he is not currently under contract for any other coaching jobs. I would rate him as the second leading candidate for the job.