ormer University of Massachusetts head basketball coach Bruiser Flint may not stay unemployed long.
Northeastern dismissed coach Rudy Keeling Tuesday, and reportedly has Flint as its top choice for the vacancy.
Northeastern has already contacted Flint about the position, and an offer could come as early as next week.
Northeastern athletic director Ian McCaw said a search for Keeling's successor would begin next week, and he hopes to have a coach named within a month.
Flint said he would be interested in the Northeastern job.
``I've never been fired before, so this process is new to me,'' he told The Boston Globe. ``This is the first time I've been able to sleep past 6 a.m. in a long time, and I enjoyed it (Tuesday) morning. But I'm anxious to get out there and be employed again.''
Another possibility for the Northeastern job is Chris Ford, former Celtics star and coach.
``At this stage of my career, I'd like to move into college coaching,'' Ford, 52, of Lynnfield, told the Globe. ``I'm very interested in staying in this area, and both Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts would be very appealing. Of course, there has to be mutual interest.''
The Globe quoted sources as saying other candidates for the Northeastern job include Ohio State assistant Paul Biancardi, a former Boston college assistant, and Brown head coach Glenn Miller, a former assistant under Jim Calhoun at Connecticut.
The Huskies finished 10-19 last season and never finished above .500 in Keeling's five years.
``It was something that we talked about, and agreed on,'' Keeling, who lives in Londonderry, N.H., told the Boston Herald Tuesday night. ``I enjoyed my time at Northeastern. The people were very good to me, and I think that the team is going to be very good in the future. I really enjoyed my players and staff.''
Keeling, who coached at Maine for eight seasons before coming to Northeastern, compiled a record of 48-and-92 with the Huskies, including a 10-19 mark this season. His best season was a 14-14 finish in 1997-98.
Northeastern's ability to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament will improve next year, since four of America East's best teams - Hofstra, Delaware, Towson and Drexel - are leaving to join the Colonial Athletic Conference.
Flint may also be a candidate for the La Salle position, in his hometown of Philadelphia.
ortheastern made the expected move yesterday by firing men's basketball coach Rudy Keeling, but the bigger story may be the names being considered to succeed him.
According to sources, former University of Massachusetts coach Bruiser Flint and former Celtics coach Chris Ford are the top candidates for the job. In addition, Ford said he has had his agent contact UMass officials to express interest in the post vacated by Flint this week.
''At this stage of my career, I'd like to move into college coaching,'' said Ford, 52, who resides in Lynnfield. ''I'm very interested in staying in this area, and both Northeastern and the University of Massachusetts would be very appealing. Of course, there has to be mutual interest.''
Flint, meanwhile, said he'd be very interested in Northeastern if the call came.
''I've never been fired before, so this process is new to me,'' said Flint, who technically resigned his position Monday. ''This is the first time I've been able to sleep past 6 a.m. in a long time, and I enjoyed it this morning. But I'm anxious to get out there and be employed again.
''It's nice to hear my name associated with Northeastern. I grew up a Philadelphia 76ers fan, so I hated Boston for a long time, but I've been in the area for 12 years, and I love Boston now. It would be great to stay in the area.''
NU athletic director Ian McCaw said the process of finding a successor to Keeling would begin next week, and he hopes to have a coach named within a month.
According to sources close to the situation, other candidates McCaw will consider are Ohio State assistant Paul Biancardi (a former Boston College assistant), and Brown head coach Glenn Miller, a former assistant under Jim Calhoun at Connecticut.
McCaw said he will look not only for a strong ''X's and O's'' coach, but one who finds players that fit the student-athlete profile at Northeastern, is an effective recruiter, and ''has a flair for marketing.''
McCaw said he and his staff went through a thorough evaluation of the Huskies program ''over the last 7-10 days'' and decided it was time for a change. He would not speak about the tenure of Keeling except to say, ''Rudy and I agreed not to speak about the past but only the future. Our goal is to definitely reestablish the pride and tradition of Northeastern basketball that was established with Jim Calhoun and Reggie Lewis.''
Ford's high profile as a former NBA player and coach undoubtedly would help in recruiting.
''Recruiting is obviously a big part of the college job,'' said Ford. ''I haven't done it, but I would love to do it and I think I could do a good job at it. I think a lot of strong recruiting is a result of the people you hire around you. If you surround yourself with a strong staff, I think that's a big plus.''
Flint said he appreciated the support he has received from BC coach Al Skinner, Temple coach John Chaney, and others who have called.
''In times like these, you find out how many friends you have,'' said Flint. ''There's been an outpouring of support. I'm very touched. The local and national medias have been very good to me, and I think the people in the business know I did a good job, and the best job I could.''
Keeling, who went 10-19 this season and reached the semifinals of the America East tournament, issued no statement, and efforts to reach him were unsuccessful. He went 48-92 in five seasons at NU. McCaw said Keeling handled the firing ''very professionally.''
Two NU players, senior Marcus Blossom and junior captain Jean Bain, were somewhat surprised when they heard the news.
''I wouldn't say it was a shock, but we had played better toward the end of the season, and I thought they might keep things the same,'' said Blossom. ''It's sad to see him go. I've been with him four years, and I know we could have been better.''
''Rudy had good relationships with certain guys, but I think it just came down to wins and losses,'' said Bain.
Mark Blaudschun of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.
s he investigates possible job opportunities, Bruiser Flint started hearing from people yesterday, officially and unofficially.
The former University of Massachusetts basketball coach, who resigned Monday, was contacted officially by Drexel, and unofficially by representatives of La Salle, Rhode Island, and Northeastern.
''Drexel called and wanted to talk,'' said Flint from his home yesterday morning. ''We're just playing phone tag now. And I've heard from a lot of people at La Salle telling me how they hear I'm at the top of their list. I have to sort it out.''
Flint also heard from boosters at Rhode Island, who wanted to know if he would consider getting into the mix as a replacement for Jerry DiGregorio.
But the job opening that Flint seems to be focusing on is Northeastern, which has not officially contacted him yet.
''We're still in the gathering stage,'' said Northeastern athletic director Ian McCaw, who thought he wouldn't start paring down the list until sometime next week.
Flint has talked to several friends and people familiar with Northeastern, which fired Rudy Keeling Tuesday, and feels of all the openings, it offers the quickest chance to win.
''I've looked at the roster and I think they can win there right away,'' said Flint, who will head to Memphis over the weekend to spend some time with Memphis (and former UMass) coach John Calipari. ''That's important. I'm anxious to get back into it.''
Sources close to the situation at Northeastern say McCaw is focusing on Flint and an assortment of assistants at major schools, such as Ohio State's Paul Biancardi, UConn's Karl Hobbs, and Boston College's Tim O'Shea.
Flint's trump card is his experience as a head coach, a factor that has him in the mix at Drexel and La Salle.
But while Flint grew up in Philadelphia and still has strong roots in the area, it is not a slam-dunk that he would return.
La Salle is kicking up its program a notch after firing Speedy Morris last week and is reportedly focusing on Flint and Siena coach Louis Orr. And yesterday it reportedly made contact with former Ohio State coach Randy Ayers, who is now on Larry Brown's staff with the Philadelphia 76ers.
While Flint goes about his job search, UMass athletic director Bob Marcum remains in a holding pattern in his quest for a replacement.
UNC-Greensboro's Fran McCaffery remains a prime candidate and O'Shea could also be part of that group, as well as St. Bonaventure's Jim Baron. There remains interest in former Seton Hall coach P.J. Carlesimo, although word is filtering back that Carlesimo has shown no inclination to pursue the job.
Two more wild-card names appeared on the radar screen yesterday: former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins and Hofstra coach Jay Wright. And Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard's stock no doubt rose after the Crusaders' 72-68 loss to Kentucky in the East Regional.
Cremins, who retired from Georgia Tech a year ago after complaining of burnout, reportedly wants to coach again. Wright is the rising star among mid-major schools, but he reportedly has his eyes focused on a Big East job when it opens.
Both seem to be long shots, but the odds can change quickly.
The timetable for all of this now seems like sometime around the Final Four, which will be held in Minneapolis March 31-April 2.
AN DIEGO - In one of the first moves to find a replacement for Rudy Keeling, Northeastern has contacted Bruiser Flint and set up a meeting to discuss the possibility of bringing the former Massachusetts basketball coach to Boston.
''They called me,'' said Flint yesterday, ''and we're probably going to meet sometime within the next 10 days.''
The meeting will not take place next week because Northeastern athletic director Ian McCaw has other business to attend to and Flint's schedule also is full.
Flint is headed to Memphis today to spend some time with his former boss at UMass, Memphis coach John Calipari. Next week he will fly to Phliladelphia to meet with officials at Drexel, the only other school to contact him about a job opening thus far.
Although Flint said he will explore all possibilities, he is most intrigued by the Northeastern job, because he feels it offers him the quickest opportunity to win.
One reason for Flint's optimism about the Northeastern program is that the Huskies' conference, America East, is in transition. Four of its schools - Hofstra, Delaware, Drexel, and Towson - are leaving, possibly as soon as next season. The league already has added Stony Brook and Albany, and next season may add Binghamton, which recently elevated to Division 1.
Although there was a movement in America East to toss the defecting schools immediately, the latest word was that the league might let them remain for a final season.
Flint's former school, UMass, also is poised to begin its search for a new coach. ''We're going to go out and contact some people,'' said athletic director Bob Marcum, reached by telephone in his office. ''The problem is that most of them are in transit.''
Although Marcum refused to say who is the focus of his attention, sources close to the situation say North Carolina-Greensboro coach Fran McCaffery will receive a call. McCaffery's team was eliminated from the NCAA tournament Thursday by Stanford, the No. 1 seed in the West Regional. ''I would be interested and flattered if they talked to me,'' said McCaffery, who has guided UNC-Greensboro to two winning seasons and one NCAA berth in his two years there. ''I will certaintly listen to them if they do call.''
Also sure to get a call will be Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard, who has done an impressive rebuilding job in Worcester. The Crusaders took Kentucky to the limit Thursday before losing, 72-68, to the No. 2 seed in the East. ''They certainly did a good job, didn't they?'' said Marcum.
Also reportedly on Marcum's list will be St. Bonaventure coach Jim Baron and, possibly, former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins. The latter has mentioned to friends a desire to get back into coaching, a year after reigning at Georgia Tech.
While UMass and Northeastern were looking for coaches, Boston College again made it clear that it is intent on keeping Al Skinner. ''We're going to be proactive,'' said athletic director Gene DeFilippo, who has heard scattered reports of Skinner possibly being pursued for openings at Michigan and South Carolina. ''As I've said all along, when the season is over, we will sit down and do something for Al and his staff.''
That something almost certainly will be a contract extension and a bump in pay. Just how much and how long will be up for discussion among DeFilippo, Skinner, and the coach's agent, Dennis Coleman.
Skinner also has said he likes it at BC and expects to be part of the program for the immediate future, if not longer. ''I'm happy here, and I think everyone is happy with where the program is going,'' he said recently. ''We just need to sustain it.''