Though Steve Forbes did not actually coach in the 2020 NCAA Tournament, he was going to have that opportunity. The Buccaneers were headed for March Madness after winning the Southern Conference Tournament.
Interestingly enough, East Tennessee State beat Wofford in the SoCon final on March 9. Wofford finished its first season following the loss of former coach Mike Young, who went to Virginia Tech a year ago.
When Wake Forest finally decided to cut Danny Manning loose, guess where the Demon Deacons went for their new head coach? East Tennessee State.
You can add two and two together and get four: Wake Forest followed Virginia Tech’s playbook. It makes sense.
If there was any real debate about Wake’s next basketball coach, that debate featured the Southern Conference: If Forbes was not going to be the choice, the other choice which made complete sense was Wes Miller of SoCon competitor UNC-Greensboro. Yes, there was some discussion of bringing in John Beilein, and to be sure, Wake needed to see if Beilein was available, but in terms of a realistic outcome — and an attainable coach who was likely to say yes — the two SoCon coaches on the market were Wake’s top options.
The Deacs smartly went for one of them, and got one.
There is one more parallel between Mike Young and Steve Forbes which needs to be noted: These are not young coaches at the start of their career arcs. Young was 55 years old when Virginia Tech hired him in April of 2019. Forbes is 55 years old, having spent decades as an assistant coach before his successful five-year run at East Tennessee State.
Year 1 of the Young era in Blacksburg generated optimism about the Hokies’ future. I would bet that Year 1 of the Forbes era — which will be rough due to roster attrition — will nevertheless create hope about the road ahead for the Demon Deacons.
Two ACC schools both used the same thought process with new hoops hires. We now get to see how these parallel approaches to basketball will work out in Blacksburg and Winston-Salem.