Could NMSU’s Chris Jans Become the Next East Tennessee State Coach?
Reports flew around Monday involving New Mexico State head coach Chris Jans linked to the head coaching vacancy at East Tennessee State.
And as the day rolled along, the reports had some legs to it. Mid-Major Madness reported on the mutual interest on both sides.
East Tennessee State's coaching vacancy stems from their former head coach Steve Forbes accepting the Wake Forest job last week. The head coaching job for the Buccaneers seems like a two-man race between Jans and Jason Shay, who served as an assistant coach under Forbes.
On one hand, Jans has been absolutely dominant with the Aggies over his three seasons as their head coach. During the stretch, NMSU won three straight WAC titles and a strong record of 83-17. This March, the group was on its way to their third NCAA Tournament in the same amount of years. The three seasons of dominance made Jans a hot commodity among the mid-major ranks.
On the other side, Forbes built ETSU into a Southern Conference power, finishing with a 130-43 overall record after five seasons. The Buccaneers were first in the league this past season and if it wasn't for the pandemic, they could've made their third postseason appearance under Forbes, finishing the 2019-20 season with a 30-4 record.
Both coaches also have some background together as well. Under Gregg Marshall at Wichita State, both Forbes (2013-15) and Jans (2007-14, 2015-17) served as bench coaches for the Shockers.
However, let's get to the real reason for these reports of Jans to ETSU: the money.
Jans is currently under contract until 2023 with a base salary of $290,000 and a $216,000 retention bonus, as reported by Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun. He also collects bonus incentives for beating rivals (UTEP & New Mexico), defeating Power-5 opponents, winning the WAC title, winning WAC Coach of the Year and an NCAA Tournament appearance, along with other performance-based bonuses.
ETSU paid Forbes a total of $650,000, including his base salary, retention bonus and a yearly stipend. If the Buccanneers want to continue their winning tradition in their basketball program and offer a competitive deal to Jans, how could he refuse? The Southern Conference isn't anything remarkable but if Jans was able to compete at a high level with ETSU, he could catapult right up to the Power-5 coaching ranks. Though, some NMSU fans have argued that Jans could've made the jump from the WAC to a Power-5 school.
If it's the money, a league that is a step better than the WAC and a pathway to a premier coaching job, it makes a lot of sense for Jans on the outside. Either way, we should have some clarity within the next week.