Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall makes remarks during a news conference after practice for an NCAA Tournament game, March 22, 2013, in Salt Lake
Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall makes remarks during a news conference after practice for an NCAA Tournament game, March 22, 2013, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer)

Talk about next man in.

 

Only UCLA's case it's the next hot-name in.

 

Step on up Gregg Marshall; you're the latest name churning in the rumor mill as the Bruins continue their search for a new basketball coach.

 

With Shaka Smart and Brad Stevens reportedly not interested in the job, Marshall became the newest it-coach after guiding Wichita State to Saturday's NCAA West Regional Final against Ohio State.

 

The ink had barely dried on the final box score from the Shockers win over La Salle Thursday when Twitter and the Internet blew up with speculation the Bruins would turn their attention to Marshall.

 

It didn't hurt that Marshall and Wichita State were doing work a mere bounce pass away from Westwood at Staples Center Thursday in the West semifinals, the close proximity to UCLA and the ease with which they entertainingly disposed of La Salle revving up Bruins' fans imagination as they envisioned Marshall walking the sideline at Pauley Pavilion.

 

That's how it works these days, Bruin Nation so desperate for a new leader their heads spin around on a swivel as they seek out the latest flavor of the moment to lock in on.

 

The target this weekend is Edwards, who is bright and talented enough to get a mid-major program like Wichita State this far Bruins fans can only imagine what he's capable of doing at giant like UCLA.

 

Heck, if he pushes the Shockers past Ohio State into the Final Four he might just leapfrog over UCLA all the way to Mike D'Antoni's future replacement with the Lakers.

 

Or maybe the Clippers will give him a look if they don't bring Vinny Del Negro back.

 

Of course if Ohio State wins in a blowout, Edwards might get pushed back to the end of the line.

 

See how this works?

 

Nothing against Marshall, who's been nothing short of sensational while pushing all the right buttons with his Shockers and smoothly handling his media duties, but is reaching Final Eight the new criteria for landing on UCLA's radar?

 

And while he appears an articulate, forthright, commanding presence on the sideline and in front of the camera, what do we really know about him to all of a sudden push him to the front of UCLA's line?

 

Other than his ninth-seed Shockers were better than 13-seed La Salle in a tournament that's inspired no signature moment, revealed no dominant team and captured no one's imagination?

 

Or that the latest leg of their run just happens to be unfolding in Los Angeles, right under the nose of nervous Bruins fans anxiously on the lookout Ben Howland's successor.

 

Is he a worthy candidate or just in the right place at right time?

 

"I've been a head coach for 15 years and at least 10 of those years there's been conjecture like that,' said Marshall, obviously hip to how all this works.

 

He also didn't sound like a guy ready to leave Kansas.

 

"I'm very pleased to be the coach at Wichita State, content, happy,' he said. "And you can't buy happy.'

 

He's absolutely right, of course.

 

Marshall makes a great living, works in a town where his team is beloved by a rabid fan base and faces none of the anxiety that comes with coaching in a pressure-cooker like UCLA.

 

Win or lose Saturday, he'll return home a hero.

 

At UCLA, falling short of the Final Four is perceived as a disappointment.

 

Will a couple more million dollars balance out the added stress of working at a school that just fired the coach who guided three teams to the Final Four in 10 seasons?

 

"Because once you take that money, you accept that pressure too,' said former Michigan and Arizona State coach Bill Frieder.

 

No doubt, UCLA is still a great job. But it's no longer everybody's nirvana, not when mid-major programs in pleasant cities with appreciative fan bases pay their coaches as well as they do nowadays.

 

That is a lesson UCLA is brutally learning as one successful mid-major coach after another politely pulls their name from consideration.

 

That might not sit well with Bruins fans still stuck on the fact Westwood was once the pinnacle of college coaching, but when coaches are choosing to remain in small towns in Virginia and Indiana rather than the bright lights of Los Angeles it becomes painfully obvious this job isn't as highly regarded as it used to be.

 

Yes, Marshall said he still considers UCLA one of the top six jobs in the country when asked about it Friday.

 

"North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and UCLA,' Marshall said.

 

But did you expect him to say anything different sitting in the heart of Los Angeles?

 

Besides, he also quickly added, "Then you've got a lot of folks nipping at their heels.'

 

Not all of whom are named Michigan State or Florida or Ohio State.

 

As we are learning in today's college basketball landscape, there is a place at the big table for programs like Butler and Gonzaga and Virginia Commonwealth.

 

And yes, Wichita State.

 

It all just seems so accidental, anyway.

 

Marshall might be every bit the coach UCLA needs. He might also be a coach riding the hot streak of a team playing in a tournament made up of 64 starless teams.

 

Worthy candidate or just a guy in the right place at the right time at the moment?